Journal of Mathematical Biology

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 1–21 | Cite as

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

  • Ilan Eshel
  • Emilia Sansone
  • Frans Jacobs


 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.


Sexual Preference Genetic Model Important Case Indispensable Component Handicap Principle 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ilan Eshel
    • 1
  • Emilia Sansone
    • 2
  • Frans Jacobs
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Statistics and OR, School of Mathematics, Tel Aviv University, Israel. e-mail:
  2. 2.Department of Mathematics and its Applications, University of Naples, Federico II, Naples, Italy. e-mail: esansone@unina.itIT
  3. 3.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-1610, USAUS

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