The geography of sex-specific selection, local adaptation, and sexual dimorphism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Local adaptation and sexual dimorphism are iconic evolutionary scenarios of intraspecific adaptive differentiation in the face of gene flow. Although theory has traditionally considered local adaptation and sexual dimorphism as conceptually distinct processes, emerging data suggest that they often act concurrently during evolutionary diversification. Here, I merge theories of local adaptation in space and sex-specific adaptation over time, and show that their confluence yields several new predictions about the roles of context-specific selection, migration, and genetic correlations, in adaptive diversification. I specifically revisit two influential predictions from classical studies of clinal adaptation and sexual dimorphism: (1) that local adaptation should decrease with distance from the species’ range center and (2) that opposing directional selection between the sexes (sexual antagonism) should inevitably accompany the evolution of sexual dimorphism. I show that both predictions can break down under clinally varying selection. First, the geography of local adaptation can be sexually dimorphic, with locations of relatively high local adaptation differing profoundly between the sexes. Second, the intensity of sexual antagonism varies across the species’ range, with subpopulations near the range center representing hotspots for antagonistic selection. The results highlight the context-dependent roles of migration versus sexual conflict as primary constraints to adaptive diversification.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2333-2344
Number of pages12
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Adaptation
  • clines
  • gene flow
  • sexual antagonism
  • sexual dimorphism

Cite this