International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 877–904 | Cite as

Sexual Selection and Mate Choice

  • Andreas Paul


After a long period of dormancy, Darwin's theory of sexual selection in general, and mate choice in particular, now represents one of the most active fields in evolutionary research. After a brief overview of the history of ideas and a short introduction into the main mechanisms of sexual selection, I discuss some recent theoretical developments and empirical findings in the study of mate choice and review the various current models of mate choice, which can be grossly divided into adaptive models and nonadaptive models. I also examine whether available primate evidence supports various hypotheses concerning mate choice. Although primatologists were long aware that nonhuman primates have preferences for certain mating partners, until recently the functions and evolutionary consequences of their preferences remained obscure. Now there is growing evidence that mate choice decisions provide primates with important direct or indirect benefits. For example, several observations are consistent with the hypothesis that by direct or indirect mate choice female primates lower the risk of infanticide or enhance the chance of producing viable offspring. Nevertheless, there are also significant holes in our knowledge. How the male mandrill, one of Darwin's famous examples, got his brightly colored face, is still unknown.

sexual selection sex roles mate choice polyandrous mating nonhuman primates 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Paul
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Zoologie und AnthropologieUniversität GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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