Sexual interactions are often rife with conflict. Conflict between members of the same sex over opportunities to mate has long been understood to effect evolution via sexual selection. Although conflict between males and females is now understood to be widespread, such conflict is seldom considered in the same light as a general agent of sexual selection. Any interaction between males or females that generates variation in fitness, whether due to conflict, competition or mate choice, can potentially influence sexual selection acting on a range of male traits. Here we seek to address a lack of direct experimental evidence for how sexual conflict influences sexual selection more broadly. We manipulate a major source of sexual conflict in the black field cricket, Teleogryllus commodus, and quantify the resulting changes in the nature of sexual selection using formal selection analysis to statistically compare multivariate fitness surfaces. In T. commodus, sexual conflict occurs over the attachment time of an external spermatophore. By experimentally manipulating the ability of males and females to influence spermatophore attachment, we found that sexual conflict significantly influences the opportunity, form, and intensity of sexual selection on male courtship call and body size. When males were able to harass females, the opportunity for selection was smaller, the form of selection changed, and sexual selection was weaker. We discuss the broader evolutionary implications of these findings, including the contributions of sexual conflict to fluctuating sexual selection and the maintenance of additive genetic variation.
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Vol. 62 • No. 9