In typical sexual conflict scenarios, males best equipped to exploit females are favored locally over more prudent males, despite reducing female fitness. However, local advantage is not the only relevant form of selection. In multigroup populations, groups with less sexual conflict will contribute more offspring to the next generation than higher conflict groups, countering the local advantage of harmful males. Here, we varied male aggression within-and between-groups in a laboratory population of water striders and measured resulting differences in local population growth over a period of three weeks. The overall pool fitness (i.e., adults produced) of less aggressive pools exceeded that of high aggression pools by a factor of three, with the high aggression pools essentially experiencing no population growth over the course of the study. When comparing the fitness of individuals across groups, aggression appeared to be under stabilizing selection in the multigroup population. The use of contextual analysis revealed that overall stabilizing selection was a product of selection favoring aggression within groups, but selected against it at the group-level. Therefore, this report provides further evidence to show that what evolves in the total population is not merely an extension of within-group dynamics.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/omar-eldakar/22/