Assessing sexual conflict in the Drosophila melanogaster laboratory model system
We describe a graphical model of interlocus coevolution used to distinguish between the interlocus sexual conflict that leads to sexually antagonistic coevolution, and the intrinsic conflict over mating rate that is an integral part of traditional models of sexual selection. We next distinguish the 'laboratory island' approach from the study of both inbred lines and laboratory populations that are newly derived from nature, discuss why we consider it to be one of the most fitting forms of laboratory analysis to study interlocus sexual conflict, and then describe four experiments using this approach with Drosophila melanogaster. The first experiment evaluates the efficacy of the laboratory model system to study interlocus sexual conflict by comparing remating rates of females when they are, or are not, provided with a spatial refuge from persistent male courtship. The second experiment tests for a lag-load in males that is due to adaptations that have accumulated in females, which diminish male-induced harm while simultaneously interfering with a male's ability to compete in the context of sexual selection. The third and fourth experiments test for a lag-load in females owing to direct costs from their interactions with males, and for the capacity for indirect benefits to compensate for these direct costs. © 2006 The Royal Society.