Emerging issues in the evolution of animal nuptial gifts

Sara M. Lewis, Karim Vahed, Joris M. Koene, Leif Engqvist, Luc F. Bussière, Jennifer C. Perry, Darryl Gwynne, Gerlind U. C. Lehmann

Abstract

Uniquely positioned at the intersection of sexual selection, nutritional ecology and life-history theory, nuptial gifts are widespread and diverse. Despite extensive empirical study, we still have only a rudimentary understanding of gift evolution because we lack a unified conceptual framework for considering these traits. In this opinion piece, we tackle several issues that we believe have substantively hindered progress in this area. Here, we: (i) present a comprehensive definition and classification scheme for nuptial gifts (including those transferred by simultaneous hermaphrodites), (ii) outline evolutionary predictions for different gift types, and (iii) highlight some research directions to help facilitate progress in this field.

  • Received April 23, 2014.
  • Accepted June 26, 2014.
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