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Effects of female preference intensity on the permissiveness of sexual trait polymorphisms

  • Author(s): Ponkshe, A
  • Endler, JA
  • et al.

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Recent developments in sexual selection theory suggest that on their own, mate preferences can promote the maintenance of sexual trait diversity. However, how mate preferences constrain the permissiveness of sexual trait diversity in different environmental regimes remains an open question. Here, we examine how a range of mate choice parameters affect the permissiveness of sexual trait polymorphism under several selection regimes. We use the null model of sexual selection and show that environments with strong assortative mating significantly increase the permissiveness of sexual trait polymorphism. We show that for a given change in mate choice parameters, the permissiveness of polymorphism changes more in environments with strong natural selection on sexual traits than in environments with weak selection. Sets of nearly stable polymorphic populations with weak assortative mating are more likely to show accidental divergence in sexual traits than sets of populations with strong assortative mating. The permissiveness of sexual trait polymorphism critically depends upon particular combinations of natural selection and mate choice parameters.

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