On the Evolution of Mating Systems in Birds and Mammals

  title={On the Evolution of Mating Systems in Birds and Mammals},
  author={Gordon H. Orians},
  journal={The American Naturalist},
  pages={589 - 603}
  • G. Orians
  • Published 1 November 1969
  • Biology
  • The American Naturalist
Predictions from a theory assuming mate selection on the part of females, which maximizes reproductive success of individuals, are found to accord closely, though not completely, with known mating patterns. These predictions are that (1) polyandry should be rare, (2) polygyny should be more common among mammals than among birds, (3) polygyny should be more prevalent among precocial than among altricial birds, (4) conditions for polygyny should be met in marshes more regularly than among… 

Testosterone and Polygyny in Birds

Recognition has grown that various strategies and selective pressures result in the monogamy/polygamy/promiscuity division and that breeding strategies are not dicrete entities but form a continuum of relationship between the sees.

The Evolution of Mating Systems in Grouse

The intent of this paper is to examine Wiley's (1974) hypothesis and present an alternative based on the assumption that female choice determines the evolution of grouse mating systems, which reverses the usually accepted causal relationship between delayed breeding and polygamy.

Sexual Dimorphism in Mammals: Avian Models and Unanswered Questions

  • K. Ralls
  • Biology
    The American Naturalist
  • 1977
An adequate mammalian model will have to include another set of factors which oppose the evolution of polygyny by increasing the spacing or mobility of females, and explain why sexual dimorphism has evolved more frequently in large mammals than in small ones.

The evolution of avian mating systems: a phylogenetic analysis of male and female polygamy and length of pair bond

The authors' analyses show a concentration of transitions to polygamy and short bonds, respectively, in the two monophyletic groups of Struthionidae-Anatidae and Pteroclidae-Laridae, whereas non-passerines are extensively analysed, whereas a survey of the situation in passerines is given.

Avian polygyny is most likely in populations with high variability in heritable male fitness

  • M. PetrieM. Lipsitch
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences
  • 1994
It is shown that polygynous mating systems are most likely in populations and species in which there is high heritable variation in male genetic quality, and the invasion and stability conditions for female choice and male display are satisfied whenmale genetic quality is highly variable.

Birds of Paradise and Mating System Theory — Predictions and Observations

Information from the birds of paradise supports the notion that male emancipation is associated with small clutch-size and contradicts the assumption that the species depending most heavily on fruit will show the greatest potential for polygynous mating behaviour.

Poor reproductive success of polygynously mated female birds with obligatory bi-parental care: a result of deceptive behaviour of males?

It was showed that polygyny in Eurasian kestrels is frequent when food is abundant facilitating males to provision their two or more females during courtship feeding, and reproductive success of secondary females was significantly reduced in comparison to monogamous females laying simultaneously.

Variation in Mate Fidelity in Monogamous Birds

The purpose of this review is to extend the knowledge of monogamous birds by examining the extent to which individuals of monogamy species practice various strategies of mate infidelity as a means to increase their reproductive success.

Bill morphology reflects female independence from male parental help

It is argued that females with stronger bills are better adapted to exploit the abundance of large food items in rich territories and thus to raise young on their own and provide evidence for an extended version of the ‘constrained–female hypothesis’.

The mating systems of ratites and tinamous: an evolutionary perspective

It is shown that these birds are very little known, in the main, and urged that caution be exercised in the use of what information is available, and an interpretation of parental care and pair-bond patterns in these birds is offered.




It is pointed out that if sexual selection results in sexual dimorphism expressed during the period of parental care, there may be a change in average expenditure per sex with a consequent change in sex ratio, and mate preference, which in my opinion should have a profound influence on the mating system, may also have an effect on the sex ratio.

The Influence of Habitats on Mating Systems of North American Passerine Birds

Regardless of sex ratio, a polygynous mating is expected to be adaptive for the females as well as for the male, and marshes and prairies are more likely than forests to present the minimum requisite food supply and sufficiently great differences in available food between territories for selection to favor polygyny.

On Mating Systems and Sexual Selection

The fact that sympatric hybridization is more frequent among non-monogamous species than among those having a monogamous mating system is attributed in part to the higher sex "drive" and the lower thresholds of response of males to feminine releasers, which arise through strong sexual selection in polygamous and promiscuous mating systems.


  • M. Cody
  • Biology
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 1966
This paper is an attempt to show that this and other existing hypotheses when taken singly are inadequate in some respect to account for all the data, that each holds for some particular set of con- ditions, and that each is but a part of the complete explanation.


Three species of Cotingidae of differenit genera were briefly studied: the White Bellbird (Procnias alba), the Greenheart Bird (Lipaugus cineraceuts), and the Calf or Capuchin Bird (Perissocephalus tricolor).


Criteria of age in the Boat-tailed Grackle (Cassidix mexicanus prosopidicola) derived from examination of specimens from central Texas is concerns, based on 328 males and 165 females collected over a 16-month period in 1956 and 1957.

The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex

I.IF Mr. Darwin had closed his rich series of contributions to Science by the publication of the “Origin of Species,“he would have made an epoch in Natural History like that which Socrates made in

Animal Dispersion in Relation to Social Behaviour.

Wynne-Edwards has written this interesting and important book as a sequel to his earlier (1962) Animal Dispersion in Relation to Social Behaviour. Reviewing it has proven to be a valuable task for

The Mechanism of Natural Selection for the Sex Ratio

A population model is presented which quantifies and extends the mechanism described by R. A. Fisher for the natural selection of the sex ratio and shows that this mechanism can affect the mean of a population's sex ratio, but not the variance.

Birds of Paradise and Bower Birds

Birds of Paradise and Bower BirdsBy Tom Iredale. Pp. xii + 239 + 33 plates. (Melbourne: Georgian House Pty., Ltd.; London: Phoenix House, Ltd., 1950.) 105s. net.