Evol Ecol Res 9: 145-156 (2007)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Conflict between the sexes and cooperation within a sex can alter classic predictions of mating systems theory

Suzanne H. Alonzo

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, PO Box 208106, New Haven, CT 06520-8106, USA


Question: How does the inclusion of conflict between the sexes alter classic predictions of mating systems theory?

Mathematical method: A game theoretical model of male and female behaviour was used to examine how interactions between the sexes alter the expected distribution of males and females among reproductive sites.

Assumptions: Male and female fitness are affected by the abundance of resources in a site, interactions within and between the sexes, expected survival, and reproductive success. I examine the possibility that interactions with males decrease female survival. Individuals are assumed to adopt the evolutionarily stable distribution strategy based on expected fitness.

Predictions: The inclusion of conflict between the sexes alters classic predictions of mating system theory. When the frequency of males in a site affects female survival, neither males nor females are predicted to exhibit resource matching. Furthermore, conflict between the sexes can be masked by the effect of resources and even accentuated by positive interactions among females. In general, the results reported here show that without the simultaneous consideration of how resources and interactions within and between the sexes affect fitness, one is likely to come to a false conclusion regarding the importance of resources, the extent of sexual conflict, and even the pattern of selection among sites.

Keywords: game theory, ideal free distribution, mating system, reproductive strategies, sexual conflict.

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        © 2007 Suzanne H. Alonzo. 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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