The evolution of mating preferences and the paradox of the lek

  title={The evolution of mating preferences and the paradox of the lek},
  author={Mark Kirkpatrick and Michael J. Ryan},
Why do females prefer elaborate male mating displays in species where they receive little more from males than their sperm? Here we review three hypotheses for the evolution of mating preferences: direct selection, the runaway process and the parasite mechanism. There is growing support for direct selection, in which preferences evolve because of their direct effects on female fitness rather than the genetic effects on offspring resulting from mate choice. 

The evolution of female mate choice by sexual conflict

A quantitative genetic model is developed showing that sexual conflict over mating indeed results in the joint evolution of costly female mate choice and exaggerated male traits under a wide range of circumstances.

Sexual Selection and the Evolution of Advertisement Signals

The initiation of signaling systems may also be constrained phylogenetically; in particular, ancestral biases in perception may serve as preadaptations that select for specific signaling properties.

A Paradox of Human Mate Preferences and Natural Selection

Abstract Though both sexes need one another but rarely they have exactly the same priorities for mate selection. Females have been selected with a variety of traits. Theory suggests that one choose

Can older males deliver the good genes?

Mating success in lekking males: a meta-analysis

This work has shown that in lekking species, a male's mating success can be estimated as the number of females that he copulates with, and habits that are correlated with mating success are likely to be subject to sexual selection.

On the Evolution of Female Mating Preferences as Pleiotropic Byproducts of Adaptive Evolution

  • M. Noor
  • Biology, Psychology
    Adapt. Behav.
  • 2000
It is found that recessivity of the new female preference can allow it to spread as a pleiotropic byproduct of adaptive evolution even when the novel preference is initially extremely detrimental.

Female mate preferences in Drosophila simulans: evolution and costs

This work selected on female preference for ebony‐males in replicate Drosophila simulans lines, and generated a rapid evolutionary response in both replicates, with the proportion of females mating with ebony-males increasing from approximately 5% to 30% after five generations of selection.


Abstract We introduce models for the runaway coevolution of female mating preferences and male display traits. The models generalize earlier results by allowing for direct natural selection on the



Asymmetry in the evolution of female mating preferences

A two-locus population–genetic model is described that embodies the idea that where genetic or developmental constraints on the expression of a trait prevent male and female fitnesses from being maximized simultaneously, female mating preferences should evolve to favour males who exhibit variants of the trait that confer relatively low fitness on males but relatively high fitness on females.


  • M. Kirkpatrick
  • Biology, Psychology
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 1982
The primary conclusion of the present paper is that the initial selective advantages for the female preference assumed by Fisher, O'Donald, and many later authors are not necessary for either the origin or subsequent elaboration of mating preferences for traits associated with reduced survivorship.

Models of speciation by sexual selection on polygenic traits.

  • R. Lande
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1981
The models elucidate genetic mechanisms that can initiate or contribute to rapid speciation by sexual isolation and divergence of secondary sexual characters in polygamous species.

Genetics and evolution of female choice

The demonstration of a simple genetic basis to female mating preferences in A. bipunctata implies that sexual selection by female choice is not only important in the evolution of male sexual adornments in sexually dimorphic species, but may also maintain polymorphisms that are not sex-limited.

Costs and Benefits of Female Mate Choice: Is There a Lek Paradox?

It is argued that, although females are expected to pay lower costs in noneconomic mating systems, this need not translate into examining fewer males or spending less time in this activity, and there may be no lek paradox.

The costs of choice in sexual selection.

Genetic Models of Sexual Selection

The author uses particular examples of mating behaviour and mate selection in insects and birds to construct general models giving probabilities that males with different sexual characteristics are chosen as mates, which are analysed in genetical terms and their evolutionary consequences deduced.

The evolution of mate choice in a fluctuating environment.


  • J. Seger
  • Biology
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 1985
Lande's (1981) criterion for the stability of the equilibria in quantitative‐genetic models of sexual selection applies exactly and in general to the related family of simple population‐genetically models.

Evolution of Female Choice and Male Parental Investment in Polygynous Species: The Demise of the "Sexy Son"

These models address the "sexy son" hypothesis of Weatherhead and Robertson (1979), which contends that selection can create an equilibrium at which females on the average mate with certain attractive types of males that give them inferior material resources and therefore decrease the females' immediate reproductive success.