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UCLA biologists reveal potential 'fatal flaw' in iconic sexual selection study
Date:6/26/2012

A classic study from more than 60 years ago suggesting that males are more promiscuous and females more choosy in selecting mates may, in fact, be wrong, say life scientists who are the first to repeat the historic experiment using the same methods as the original.

In 1948, English geneticist Angus John Bateman published a study showing that male fruit flies gain an evolutionary advantage from having multiple mates, while their female counterparts do not. Bateman's conclusions have informed and influenced an entire sub-field of evolutionary biology for decades.

"Bateman's 1948 study is the most-cited experimental paper in sexual selection today because of its conclusions about how the number of mates influences fitness in males and females," said Patricia Adair Gowaty, a distinguished professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCLA. "Yet despite its important status, the experiment has never been repeated with the methods that Bateman himself originally used, until now.

"Our team repeated Bateman's experiment and found that what some accepted as bedrock may actually be quicksand. It is possible that Bateman's paper should never have been published."

Gowaty's study was published June 11 in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and is scheduled for publication in an upcoming print edition.

The original experiment on Drosophila melanogaster, also known as the common fruit fly, was performed by creating multiple, isolated populations with either five males and five females or three of each gender in a jar. The insects mated freely in the experimental populations, and Bateman examined the children that made it to adulthood. To count the number of adult offspring engendered by each of his original insect subjects, Bateman needed a reliable way to match parents with children.

Nowadays, modern geneticists would use molecular evidence to determine the ge
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Contact: Stuart Wolpert
swolpert@support.ucla.edu
310-206-0511
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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