Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 277–281

Imperfect female choice and male mating skew on leks of different sizes

  • Rufus A. Johnstone
  • David J. D. Earn

DOI: 10.1007/s002650050562

Cite this article as:
Johnstone, R. & Earn, D. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1999) 45: 277. doi:10.1007/s002650050562


We present a model of error-prone female choice on leks, and investigate the effects of different degrees of error on the distribution of mating success among males present at leks of different sizes. At higher levels of error, the best male is predicted to gain a smaller share of matings, while low-ranking males gain a larger share. Males who are of high rank but not the most desirable on the lek do best at intermediate levels of error, since the top-ranked male does not then claim all the matings, but assessment is still sufficiently accurate for females to discriminate between high-ranking and low-ranking competitors. The effects of error are shown to be more pronounced on larger leks, due to smaller expected differences in mating value between males of adjacent ranks. This interaction between lek size and error suggests that observed negative relationships between lek size and mating skew need not be attributed solely to intrasexual competition, as previously suggested, but could also be a result of imperfect choice.

Key words Mate choice Sexual selection Lekking 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rufus A. Johnstone
    • 1
  • David J. D. Earn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EJ, UK e-mail: Tel.: +44-1223-336685, Fax: +44-1223-336676GB

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