What is Sexual Conflict

As with any relatively new field, there is considerable debate over the definitions, assumptions, and models of sexual conflict (Hosken and Snook 2005; Tregenza et al. 2006). Of course, the notion that male and female reproductive styles do not always coincide perfectly has a long history in evolutionary thinking, beginning with Darwin's (1871) exposition of sexual selection, demonstrated by Bateman's (1948) study of Drosophila reproduction, and elaborated by Williams's (1966) "battle of the sexes" metaphor. But it was Trivers (1972) who spotlighted the potential for sexual conflict with an ostensibly simple point: sex differences in parental investment, originating with anisogamy, but amplified in mammals by gestation, lactation, and postnatal care, will generate different reproductive strategies for the males and females, maximizing quantity vs. quality of offspring, respectively. The implication is that reproductive strategies of the sexes not only diverge, but may comprise elements that are incompatible. This incompatibility is crucial because different fitness optima for males and females will not generate conflict if they can be achieved simultaneously (Parker 2006). Sexual conflict emerges when strategies among members of one sex impose fitness costs on the other sex. In the resulting evolutionary dialectic, each sex attempts to mitigate these

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