The “Bateman gradient” provides a means for estimating the strength of sexual selection. Although widely used for this purpose, this approach has not been applied to examine the covariance between mate numbers and offspring numbers among alternative mating strategies. Differences in this covariance could exist if the average fitnesses of different mating phenotypes were unequal, as has been suggested for “alternative mating tactics.” We tested this hypothesis in Paracerceis sculpta, a sexually dimorphic marine isopod in which three male morphs coexist. We found no significant differences in sexual competency and no significant differences in Bateman gradients among morphs, that is, the average morph fitnesses were equivalent. However, with data pooled among morphs, we found a significant sex difference in Bateman gradients, as expected for dimorphic species; females gained no additional fitness from mating with multiple males, whereas male fitness increased with increasing mate numbers. In nature, the fitnesses of the three morphs are variable due to differences in the availability of receptive females. Our results suggest that differences in mate availability, not differences in sexual competency, are responsible for observed variance in fitness within, and for the equality of fitnesses among, the three male morphs in this species.
Part of the book: Crustacea