The Evolution of Primary Sexual Characters in Animals

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Janet Leonard, Alex Cordoba-Aguilar
Oxford University Press, Jul 16, 2010 - Science - 552 pages
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Primary sexual traits, those structures and processes directly involved in reproduction, are some of the most diverse, specialized, and bizarre in the animal kingdom. Moreover, reproductive traits are often species-specific, suggesting that they evolved very rapidly. This diversity, long the province of taxonomists, has recently attracted broader interest from evolutionary biologists, especially those interested in sexual selection and the evolution of reproductive strategies. Primary sexual characters were long assumed to be the product of natural selection, exclusively. A recent alternative suggests that sexual selection explains much of the diversity of "primary" sexual characters. A third approach to the evolution of reproductive interactions after copulation or insemination has been to consider the process one of sexual conflict. That is, the reproductive processes of a species may reflect, as does the mating system, evolution acting on males and on females, but in different directions. In this volume, authors explore a wide variety of primary sexual characters and selective pressures that have shaped them, from natural selection for offspring survival to species-isolating mechanisms, sperm competition, cryptic female choice and sexual arms races. Exploring diverse reproductive adaptations from a theoretical and practical perspective, The Evolution of Primary Sexual Characters will provide an unparalleled overview of sexual diversity in many taxa and an introduction to the issues in sexual selection that are changing our view of sexual processes.

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About the author (2010)

Janet L. Leonard is a research associate at the Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California - Santa Cruz. Throughout her career her research has focused on animal behavior, particularly in invertebrates, working on topics from neuroethology to evolutionary biology. At present she divides her time between theoretical and practical work, the latter focusing on the reproduction and evolution of banana slugs. Alex Córdoba-Aguilar is a researcher at the Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He studies the evolutionary forces that operate on the form and function of genitalic structures in invertebrates, mainly insects, and is the editor of Dragonflies and Damselflies: Model Organisms for Ecological and Evolutionary Research (OUP, 2008).

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