Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


School of Biological Sciences

Committee Chair

Benjamin M Sadd

Committee Member

Scott K Sakaluk


The operational sex ratio (OSR) is a key component influencing the magnitude of sexual selection driving the evolution of male sexual traits, but males often also retain the ability to plastically modulate trait expression depending on the current environment. Here we employed an experimental evolution approach to determine whether the OSR affects the evolution of male calling effort in decorated crickets, a costly sexual trait, and whether plasticity in calling effort is altered by the OSR under which males have evolved. Calling effort of males from two selection regimes maintained at different OSRs over 18-20 generations (male- versus female-biased) was recorded at two different levels of perceived competition, in the absence of rivals or in the presence of an experimentally muted competitor. The effect of the OSR on the evolution of male calling effort was modest, and in the opposite direction predicted by theory. Instead, the immediate competitive environment strongly influenced male calling effort as males called more in the presence of a rival, revealing considerable plasticity in this trait. This increased calling effort came at a cost, however, as males confined with a muted rival experienced significantly higher mortality.


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