Rodrigues, L., Torralba Sáez, M., Alpedrinha, J., Lefèvre, S., Brengues, M., Magalhães, S. & Duncan, A. (2021) Consequences of population structure for sex allocation and sexual conflict.Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 34(3), 525-536. DOI:10.1111/jeb.13755 (IF2021 2,516; Q2 Evolutionary Biology)
Both sex allocation and sexual conflict can be modulated by spatial structure. However, how the interplay between the type of dispersal and the scale of competition simultaneously affects these traits in sub-divided populations is rarely considered. We investigated sex allocation and sexual conflict evolution in meta-populations of the spider mite Tetranychus urticae evolving under budding (pairing females from the same patch) or random (pairing females from different patches) dispersal and either local (fixed sampling from each subpopulation) or global (sampling as a function of subpopulation productivity) competition. Females evolving under budding dispersal produced less female-biased offspring sex ratios than those from the random dispersal selection regimes, contradicting theoretical predictions. In contrast, the scale of competition did not strongly affect sex allocation. Offspring sex ratio and female fecundity were unaffected by the number of mates, but female fecundity was highest when their mates evolved under budding dispersal, suggesting these males inflict less harm than those evolving under random dispersal. This work highlights that population structure can impact the evolution of sex allocation and sexual conflict. Moreover, selection on either trait may reciprocally affect the evolution of the other, for example via effects on fecundity.