Theoretical Ecology

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 225–244 | Cite as

Mate search and mate-finding Allee effect: on modeling mating in sex-structured population models

  • Luděk BerecEmail author


Many demographic and other factors are sex-specific. To assess their impacts on population dynamics, we need sex-structured models. Such models have been shown to produce results different from those predicted by asexual models, yet need to explicitly consider mating dynamics. Modeling mating is challenging and no generally accepted formulation exists. Mating is often impaired at low densities due to difficulties of individuals in locating mates, a phenomenon termed a mate-finding Allee effect. Widely applied models of this Allee effect assume either that only male density determines the rate at which females mate or that male and female densities are equal. Contrarily, when detailed models of mating dynamics are sometimes developed, the female mating rate is rarely reported, making quantification of the mate-finding Allee effect difficult. Here, we develop an individual-based model of mating dynamics that accounts for spatial search of one sex for another, and quantify the rate at which females mate, depending on male and female densities and under a number of reasonable mating scenarios. We find that this rate increases with male and female densities (hence observing a mate-finding Allee effect), in a decelerating or sigmoid way, that mating can be most efficient at either low or high female densities, and that the mate search rate may undergo density-dependent selection. We also show that mate search trajectories evolve to be as straight as possible when targets are sedentary, yet that when targets move the search can be less straight without seriously affecting the female mating rate. Some recommendations for modeling two-sex population dynamics are also provided.


Allee effect Correlated random walk Density-dependent selection Evolution Mating behavior Two-sex population model 


Funding Information

This study was funded by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (15-24456S) and institutional support RVO:60077344

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

12080_2017_361_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.1 mb)
(PDF 1.08 MB)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Entomology, Department of EcologyČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic
  2. 2.Institute of Mathematics and Biomathematics, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of South BohemiaČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic

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