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Arnqvist (2004) raises some concerns with several of the points made by Pizzari and Snook (2003) on the study of sexually antagonistic coevolution (SAC) generated by sexual conflict, arguing that: (1) sexual conflict cannot be expressed in terms of average male and female fitness; (2) our criticism of current experimental approaches, particularly interpopulation crosses, is unjustified; and (3) the alternative experimental approach we proposed is problematic. Here we discuss and respond to these criticisms by: (1) clarifying that we can distinguish between SAC and mutualistic sexual coevolution by measuring changes in the average fitness of the reproducing subsamples of males and females of a population across generations, (2) maintaining that testing SAC using interpopulation crosses is undermined by the lack of a priori knowledge of what traits mediate SAC across isolated populations, and (3) reinforcing the advantages of our experimental approach to distinguish between sexually mutualistic and antagonistic selection.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1389 - 1393