Acta Biotheoretica

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 23–35 | Cite as

An Ecological Theory of Sexual Dimorphism in Animals

  • Joseph N. Abraham


Both male ornamentation and male combat result in increased male mortality. Because population sizes are limited by a carrying capacity, increased age-specific adult male mortality will result in decreased age-specific adult female mortality, as well as decreased juvenile mortality. As intersexual competition is one form of intraspecific competition, through choosing to mate with ornamented and/or combative males, females in polygamous systems reduce intraspecific competition. Because average male fitness must exactly equal average female fitness, male fitness will paradoxically rise with increasing male mortality. This theory also offers new perspectives on peripheral problems to sexual theory, such as mate location, resource guarding, leks, harems, and others.


Population Size Sexual Dimorphism Intraspecific Competition Ecological Theory Mate Location 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph N. Abraham
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Mississippi, University
  2. 2.Health Information ManagementUniversity of Southwestern LouisianaLafayette

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