Darwinian sex roles confirmed across the animal kingdom

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Science Advances  12 Feb 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 2, e1500983
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500983

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  • A plea for understanding diversity in sexual selection
    • Tim Janicke, Centre d’Écologie Fonctionnelle et Évolutive, UMR 5175, CNRS, Montpellier, France.
    • Other Contributors:
      • Ines K. Häderer, Animal Evolutionary Ecology Group, Institute for Evolution and Ecology, University of Tübingen, Germany.
      • Marc J. Lajeunesse, Department of Integrative Biology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA.
      • Nils Anthes, Animal Evolutionary Ecology Group, Institute for Evolution and Ecology, University of Tübingen, Germany.

    In an eLetter comment of our meta-analysis on sexual selection in the animal kingdom (1), Ahnesjö and Bussière question our findings, criticize our applied sex role concept, and claim that we advocate a unidimensional view of sex roles. Here we aim to address these criticisms.

    First, Ahnesjö and Bussière challenge the overall scientific merit of our study by arguing that “The occurrence of a common pattern in nature is interesting, but it is neither Darwinian, nor advancing science to make this pattern a universal rule across animals.” Researchers including ourselves but also Ahnesjö and Bussière have often argued that sexual selection is generally stronger in males than females without providing a source (2) or by simply referring to Darwin’s and Bateman’s original work to back this claim (3). Our study aims to provide a source for this claim by offering a formal empirical test for this theory-derived pattern. We believe our study is the first to systematically review and combine the available empirical support for this widely held assumption, thus informing the long-lasting debate on sex roles (4). We also believe that phylogenetic meta-analysis offers a scientifically robust and repeatable approach to taking an aggregate view of evolutionary patterns occurring in nature. In fact, identifying central tendencies in nature through research synthesis is crucial to advancing science, given that it offers a robust baseline for comparison as new studies emerge, while al...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Response on the Darwinian sex roles
    • Ingrid Ahnesjö, Prof, Department of Ecology and Genetics/Animal Ecology, Uppsala University, Sweden
    • Other Contributors:
      • Luc F Bussière, Dr/Lecturer, Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Stirling, UK

    See the full eLetter as an uploaded pdf below.

    Competing Interests: None declared.

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