, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 1-21

A long-term genetic model for the evolution of sexual preference: the theories of Fisher and Zahavi re-examined

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 Long-term co-evolution of male's sexual extravagance and female's preference for it is studied. Fisher's ``Sexy Son'' principle is checked against Zahavi's Handicap Principle. It is shown that although both principles are equally likely to explain this sort of co-evolution in the short run, only the second one allows for a long-term evolutionarily stable females' preference for costly male's extravagance. It is shown, however, that Fisher's argument, although not sufficient on its own to explain long-term persistence of females' choice, may tacitly appear as an indispensable component for the application of Zahavi's theory to the important case of dense polygenous populations.

Received: 7 March 2001 / Revised version: 15 November 2001 / Published online: 26 June 2002