Environmental conditions experienced by a female prior to reproducing may be influenced by her mate. Part of such an indirect effect of a male on his partner's reproduction may be genetic (indirect genetic effect). However, a female's direct and a male's indirect genetic effects need not align. We analyzed 10,652 records of seasonal timing of laying, an important reproductive trait in many organisms, of 1864 male and 1916 female common gulls Larus canus collected during 37 years. We show that there is both a direct (female) and an indirect (male) genetic effect (explaining 14.5% and 4.8% of the REML estimated variance in laying date, respectively), but these are significantly negatively correlated (−0.53 ± 0.22 SE), indicating that genes for early laying in females are associated with genes for a delaying male effect on his partner's laying date (and vice versa). There is strong selection for laying early in this population, and these sexually antagonistic genetic effects may contribute in maintaining the variation in laying date. Our findings provide an empirical demonstration of a hitherto largely unstudied level of conflict between mates, with important ramifications for our understanding of evolutionary dynamics and mate choice in nature.
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Vol. 62 • No. 9