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Thus, sexual selection is maintained as a unique subset of natural selection, defined not only by the identity of competing parties (e.g., individuals of the same sex and species) but also by the component of fitness that is affected by competition, as described by Darwin (1859, 1871).

A second key point regarding the definition of sexual selection is whether it is sufficiently broad to include the myriad ways in which individuals compete for mates (Andersson and Iwasa 1996), without inherent sex biases.

Moreover, female–female aggression has been widely studied in a range of natural and experimental conditions across the animal kingdom, but these data have not yet been synthesized to uncover the evolutionary mechanisms promoting competition among females.

This review emphasizes female–female aggressive interactions in the context of mating competition, including examples that clearly fall within the purview of sexual selection as well as others that comprise the crux of the debate over sexual selection in females.

I employ a broad definition of sexual selection, whereby traits that influence competition for mates are sexually selected, whereas those that directly influence fecundity or offspring survival are naturally selected.

Drawing examples from across animal taxa, including humans, I examine 4 predictions about female intrasexual competition based on the abundance of resources, the availability of males, and the direct or indirect benefits those males provide.

These patterns reveal a key sex difference in sexual selection: Although females may compete for the number of mates, they appear to compete more so for access to high-quality mates that provide direct and indirect (genetic) benefits.

As is the case in males, intrasexual selection in females also includes competition for essential resources required for access to mates.

In spite of recent interest in sexual selection in females, debate exists over whether traits that influence female–female competition are sexually selected.

This review uses female–female aggressive behavior as a model behavioral trait for understanding the evolutionary mechanisms promoting intrasexual competition, focusing especially on sexual selection.

Under this view, if a trait influences competition for mates, then this trait is sexually selected.

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