, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 235-241

Genetic evidence for the “good genes” process of sexual selection

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Abstract

The adaptive nature of female mate choice remains one of the most contentious issues in the study of sexual selection. Here, I provide evidence that mate choice by females of the ovoviviparous cockroach Nauphoeta cinerea influences the rate at which offspring develop and provides both direct and indirect benefits to the female. Males that are more attractive to females produce offspring with shorter development times than less preferred males. Development time is heritable and apparently unconstrained by antagonistic pleiotropy. Male attractiveness and rate of offspring development are genetically correlated. Offspring gain an indirect benefit from their mother's mate choice because, on average, individuals that hatch faster reach sexual maturity more quickly. Females that discriminate among males gain a direct benefit because N. cinerea is ovoviviparous and the time between clutches is decreased by producing offspring with shorter development. In addition to providing evidence for beneficial consequences of mate choice, this study highlights how genetic data provide insights into the process of sexual selection not gained in a purely phenotypic study.