Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

pp 1-4

Date: Latest Version

Polygyny Threshold (Behavioral Ecology)

  • Renato C. Macedo-RegoAffiliated withBECO do Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade de São PauloPrograma de Pós-graduação em Ecologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade de São Paulo
  • , Eduardo S. A. SantosAffiliated withBECO do Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade de São Paulo Email author 

Synonyms

Polygamy threshold

Definition

The polygyny threshold is the minimum difference in quality of male territories that is sufficient to make a female choose to mate with a male that is already mated, instead of mating with a male that has no mates.

Introduction

For decades, polygynous mating systems – in which a male is paired to two or more females – were seen as a reflection of the population sex ratio. Under this rationale, a 1:1 adult sex ratio (one male for each female in the population) would predict that males would mate, on average, with one female during the breeding period, and females would behave the same way; i.e., the mating system would be monogamous. Following this rationale, in a biased sex ratio scenario of 1:3 (one male for three females), it would be expected that males would acquire more than one mating partner; i.e., a polygynous mating system would be predicted. However, through the accumulation of data on sex ratios and mating system characteristics, it was note ...

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