Interspecific aggression originating from mistaken species recognition may cause selection on secondary sexual characters, but this hypothesis has remained untested. Here we report a field experiment designed to test directly whether interspecific aggression causes selection on secondary sexual characters, wing spots, in wild damselfly populations. Males of Calopteryx virgo are more aggressive toward males of C. splendens with large than with small wing spots. This differential interspecific aggression may cause negative selection on wing spot size. Indeed, our results show that directional survival selection on wing spot size of C. splendens males was changed by experimental removal of C. virgo males. Without removal, directional selection went from positive to negative with increasing relative abundance of C. virgo males. In populations where C. virgo males were removed, this relationship disappeared. These results verify that interspecific aggression can cause negative selection on sexual characters. Thus, interspecific aggression has the potential to cause divergence on these characters between two species offering an alternative explanation for reinforcement for generating character displacement in secondary sexual characters.
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Vol. 59 • No. 8