Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 443-449

Sexual selection and the evolutionary effects of copying mate choice

  • Mark KirkpatrickAffiliated withDepartment of Zoology, University of Texas
  • , Lee Alan DugatkinAffiliated withCenter for Evolutionary Ecology, TH Morgan School of Biological Sciences, University of Kentucky

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We examine the evolutionary consequences of copying mate choice using models in which the preferences of younger females are affected by the mate choices that they observe older females making. We introduce two models of copying, termed “single mate copying” and “mass copying”, corresponding to situations in which immature females imprint on the choices of only one or of a very large number of older females, respectively. Female mating preferences are assumed to evolve only through cultural evolution, while the male trait on which they act is inherited either via a haploid autosomal or a Y-linked locus. Results show that the preference and male trait can rapidly coevolve, with a positive frequencey-dependent advantage to the more common male trait allele. This process can cause a display trait that lowers male viability to increase in a population. Mass copying results in stronger frequency dependence than does single mate copying. Mass copying and, under some conditions, single mate copying lead to two alterative stable equilibria for the male trait. Neither copying model supports variation at the male trait locus, and copying makes it more difficult for a novel male trait phenotype to spread.

Key words

Copying Mete choice Sexual selection Social learning