Intraspecific evidence from guppies for correlated patterns of male and female genital trait diversification

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences





First Page


Last Page





sexual selection, genitalia, coevolution, sexual conflict


The role of sexual selection in fuelling genital evolution is becoming increasingly apparent from comparative studies revealing interspecific divergence in male genitalia and evolutionary associations between male and female genital traits. Despite this, we know little about intraspecific variance in male genital morphology, or how male and female reproductive traits covary among divergent populations. Here we address both topics using natural populations of the guppy, Poecilia reticulata, a livebearing fish that exhibits divergent patterns of male sexual behaviour among populations. Initially, we performed a series of mating trials on a single population to examine the relationship between the morphology of the male's copulatory organ (the gonopodium) and the success of forced matings. Using a combination of linear measurements and geometric morphometrics, we found that variation in the length and shape of the gonopodium predicted the success of forced matings in terms of the rate of genital contacts and insemination success, respectively. We then looked for geographical divergence in these traits, since the relative frequency of forced matings tends to be greater in high-predation populations. We found consistent patterns of variation in male genital size and shape in relation to the level of predation, and corresponding patterns of (co) variation in female genital morphology. Together, these data enable us to draw tentative conclusions about the underlying selective pressures causing correlated patterns of divergence in male and female genital traits, which point to a role for sexually antagonistic selection.