, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 231-237

Sexual selection on alleles that determine body size in the swordtail Xiphophorus nigrensis

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Summary

In a natural population, we document changes in the frequencies of alleles influencing body size and size-correlated alternative male reproductive tactics, and we examine the possible role of sexual selection in producing these changes. Male swordtails (Xiphophorus nigrensis, Rio Choy) exhibit three body size classes (small, intermediate, and large) that primarily derive from allelic variation (s, I, L) at the Y-linked pituitary (P) locus. Some XX individuals are male. They are small and can be fathered either by XX or XY males. We compared the frequencies of Y-linked P alleles across two generations in a natural population. There was a significant decrease in the Y-s genotype relative to Y-I and Y-L genotypes. Laboratory experiments suggest that the disadvantage of Y-s resulted, at least in part, from female preference for larger courting males relative to small chasing males. All larger courting males are of the Y-I or Y-L genotypes. Although the frequency of Y-linked P alleles changed across generations, there was no change in the distribution of male body size classes. The stability of the phenotypic distribution across generations, despite changes in P allele frequencies, was maintained by the production of small XX sons by Y-I and Y-L males.

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