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Columbia River salmon are adapting to climate change
Date:12/1/2011

of Aposematic Signals." http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/662667


Can sexual selection's bizarre creations sometimes set evolution on a path to novel survival strategies?

Living organisms pursue a dazzling diversity of ecological strategies for surviving in and extracting resources from their environments, but how does such diversity come about? Because natural selection is shortsighted, unable to see potentially advantageous strategies for which no variation is immediately available, it will tend to keep populations doing what they do, ecologically speaking. So how do novel ecological strategies evolve? Most attempts to resolve this long-standing evolutionary puzzle have invoked a stochastic evolutionary process, genetic drift, which can sometimes pull very small populations away from their local phenotypic optimum. But an article by (University of New South Wales) Russell Bonduriansky explains an alternative process capable of displacing populations from their ecological comfort-zone: sexual selection. Darwin famously proposed sexual selection as an explanation for the evolution of bizarre traits that often seem to hinder prospects for survival and foraging. Perhaps the perverse tendency for sexual selectionand its more recently identified corollary, sexual conflictto act at cross purposes to survival and foraging needs might also, in the evolutionary long run, facilitate ecological diversification. The author brings together theory and evidence to make the case that sexual selection and conflict could act as engines of ecological diversification. Bizarre traits that evolve under sexual selection can, on occasion, furnish preadaptations for novel ecological functionsand can evolve to be expressed in both sexes, a process termed ecological co-optation. A variety of examples that implicate this process are discussed, along with suggestions for future research. '/>"/>

Contact: Kevin Stacey
kstacey@press.uchicago.edu
401-284-3878
University of Chicago Press Journals
Source:Eurekalert  

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