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Evolutionary conflict arises between reproductive partners when alternative reproductive opportunities are available. Sexual conflict can generate sexually antagonistic selection, which mediates sexual selection and intersexual coevolution. However, despite intense interest, the evolutionary implications of sexual conflict remain unresolved. We propose a novel theoretical approach to study the evolution of sexually antagonistic phenotypes based on quantitative genetics and the measure of social selection arising from male-female interactions. We consider the phenotype of one sex as both a genetically influenced evolving trait as well as the (evolving) social environment in which the phenotype of the opposite sex evolves. Several important points emerge from our analysis, including the relationship between direct selection on one sex and indirect effects through selection on the opposite sex. We suggest that the proposed approach may be a valuable tool to complement other theoretical approaches currently used to study sexual conflict. Most importantly, our approach highlights areas where additional empirical data can help clarify the role of sexual conflict in the evolutionary process.

Original publication




Journal article


Am Nat

Publication Date



165 Suppl 5


S88 - S97


Animals, Biological Evolution, Conflict (Psychology), Female, Genetic Variation, Male, Models, Genetic, Phenotype, Reproduction, Sex Characteristics, Sexual Behavior, Animal