Precopulatory sexual selection is the association between fitness and traits associated with mate acquisition. Although sexual selection is generally recognized to be a powerful evolutionary force, most investigations are limited to characters belonging to individuals. A broader multilevel perspective acknowledges that individual fitness can be affected by aspects of mating success that are characters of groups, such as families. Parental mating success in polygynous or polyandrous human societies may exemplify traits under group-level sexual selection. Using fitness measures that account for age-structure, I measure multilevel selection for mate number over 55 years in a human population with declining rates of polygyny. Sexual selection had three components: individual-level selection for ever-mating (whether an individual mated) and individual- and family-level selection for polyandry and polygyny. Family- and individual-level selection for polygyny was equally strong, three times stronger than family-level selection for polyandry and more than an order of magnitude stronger than individual-level selection for polyandry. However, individual-level selection for polyandry and polygyny was more effective at explaining relative fitness variance than family-level selection. Selection for ever-mating was the most important source of sexual selection for fitness; variation for ever-mating explained 23% of relative fitness variance.
- maternal effect
- reproductive strategies