Life-history (LH) theory predicts that selection will optimize the trade-off between reproduction and somatic maintenance. Reproductive ageing and finite life span are direct consequences of such optimization. Sexual selection and conflict profoundly affect the reproductive strategies of the sexes and thus can play an important role in the evolution of life span and ageing. In theory, sexual selection can favor the evolution of either faster or slower ageing, but the evidence is equivocal. We used a novel selection experiment to investigate the potential of sexual selection to influence the adaptive evolution of age-specific LH traits. We selected replicate populations of the seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus for age at reproduction (“Young” and “Old”) either with or without sexual selection. We found that LH selection resulted in the evolution of age-specific reproduction and mortality but these changes were largely unaffected by sexual selection. Sexual selection depressed net reproductive performance and failed to promote adaptation. Nonetheless, the evolution of several traits differed between males and females. These data challenge the importance of current sexual selection in promoting rapid adaptation to environmental change but support the hypothesis that sex differences in LH—a historical signature of sexual selection—are key in shaping trait responses to novel selection.
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Vol. 63 • No. 10