Evol Ecol Res 2: 493-508 (2000)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Towards a theory of mutual mate choice: Lessons from two-sided matching

Carl T. Bergstrom and Leslie A. Real

Department of Biology, Emory University, 1510 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: lreal@biology.emory.edu


Theoretical models of mate choice and sexual selection typically make one of two simplifying assumptions. Either mate preferences are assumed to be uniform (e.g. all females have the same preferences with respect to males), or mate choice is assumed to be a one-sided affair (e.g. females do all the choosing). Recent empirical studies suggest that, in many cases, neither assumption holds. In this paper, we show how two-sided matching – a branch of game theory developed in the economics literature – can be used to model mutual mate choice with non-uniform mate preferences. The economics literature is reviewed, and a number of biological applications are suggested. We characterize a systematic conflict of interest between males and females over the optimal matchings in mutual mate choice systems. Moreover, we observe that the component of choice that confers the most benefit in this conflict is not choice in the conventional sense of accepting or rejecting courtships, but instead the power to choose the individuals to whom one displays.

Keywords: assortative mating, coalitions, game theory, group formation, mating systems, sexual selection.

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        © 2000 Leslie A. Real. All EER articles are copyrighted by their authors. All authors endorse, permit and license Evolutionary Ecology Ltd. to grant its subscribing institutions/libraries the copying privileges specified below without additional consideration or payment to them or to Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. These endorsements, in writing, are on file in the office of Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. Consult authors for permission to use any portion of their work in derivative works, compilations or to distribute their work in any commercial manner.

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