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Department of Zoology


Bursts of rapid evolutionary diversification are widely observed, but their underlying causes are controversial. Nathan Bailey, University of St Andrews, Sonia Pascoal, Department of Zoology and  Fernando Montealegre-Z, University of Lincoln, tested whether secondary loss of sexual traits could play a role in rapid diversification by releasing variation in vestigial signalling structures, which then facilitates the rapid evolution of novel signal values. We found evidence to support such an evolutionary model in the field cricket Teleogryllus oceanicus, which has recently lost the ability to sing. Trait reversals are widespread and may play an underappreciated role in determining the pattern and rate of macroevolutionary change.

Their results have just been published by PNAS:  Testing the role of trait reversal in evolutionary diversification using song loss in wild crickets

A parallel study has also just been published by Proceedings of the Royal Society B Release from intralocus sexual conflict? Evolved loss of a male sexual trait demasculinizes female gene expression