New research published in the journal Nature shows that sexual selection - when males compete and females choose over reproduction - improves population health and protects against extinction, even in the face of genetic stress from high levels of inbreeding. The findings help explain why sex persists as a dominant mechanism for reproducing offspring.

"Sexual selection was Darwin's second great idea, explaining the evolution of a fascinating array of sights, sounds and smells that help in the struggle to reproduce - sometimes at the expense of survival," lead researcher Professor Matt Gage, from UEA's School of Biological Sciences, said.

"Sexual selection achieves this by acting as a filter to remove harmful genetic mutations, helping populations to flourish and avoid extinction in the long-term," Gage added.

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