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Sexual selection is a pivotal force driving the evolution of diverse behavioral, anatomical, and physiological traits in nearly all organisms. Unlike traits that merely offer a survival advantage, sexually selected traits are those that enhance an individual’s relative reproductive fitness. For nearly 150 years, the traditional Darwinian view of sexual selection has focused on traits that enhance mating success. Yet quite often females will mate with multiple males, so post-mating processes are also essential contributors to each male’s reproductive success for most creatures. Such post-mating sexual selection can arise via male sperm competition or female sperm choice (also called cryptic female choice). In our research, we embrace this integrative view of sexual selection as the basis for building a more comprehensive understanding of the evolution of sexual traits and behaviors. Our studies of fireflies and flour beetles have used this approach to provide new insights into this key evolutionary process.
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