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The Measurement of Sexual Selection Using Bateman's Principles: An Experimental Test in the Sex-Role-Reversed Pipefish Syngnathus typhle.


Angus J. Bateman's classic study of sexual selection in Drosophila melanogaster has had a major influence on the development of sexual selection theory. In some ways, Bateman's study has served a catalytic role by stimulating debate on sex roles, sexual conflict and other topics in sexual selection. However, there is still considerable disagreement regarding whether or not "Bateman's principles" are helpful in the study of sexual selection. Here, we test the idea that Bateman's principles provide the basis for a useful method to quantify and compare mating systems. In this study, we focus on the sex-role-reversed pipefish Syngnathus typhle as a model system to study the measurement of sexual selection. We set up artificial breeding assemblages of pipefish in the laboratory and used microsatellite markers to resolve parentage. Three different sex-ratio treatments (female-biased, even and male-biased) were used to manipulate the expected intensity of sexual selection. Measures of the mating system based on Bateman's principles were calculated and compared to the expected changes in the intensity of sexual selection. We also compare the results of this study to the results of a similar study of Bateman's principles in the rough-skinned newt, a species with conventional sex roles. The results of this experiment show that measures of the mating system based on Bateman's principles do accurately capture the relative intensities of sexual selection in the different treatments and species. Thus, widespread use of Bateman's principles to quantify mating systems in nature would facilitate comparative studies of sexual selection and mating system evolution.

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