Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Myth of Sexual Selection?

In the latest issue of Science Joan Roughgarden has written a review that challenges current ideas about sexual selection.

"Theories about sexual selection can be traced back to Darwin in 1871. He proposed that males fertilize as many females as possible with inexpensive sperm, whereas females, with a limited supply of large eggs, select the genetically highest quality males to endow their offspring with superior capabilities. Since its proposal, problems with this narrative have continued to accumulate, and it is our view that sexual selection theory needs to be replaced. We suggest an approach that relies on the exchange of direct ecological benefits among cooperating animals without reference to genetic benefits. This approach can be expressed mathematically in a branch of game theory that pertains to bargaining and side payments."

Science 17 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5763, pp. 965 - 969
Reproductive Social Behavior: Cooperative Games to Replace Sexual Selection
Joan Roughgarden, Meeko Oishi, Erol Akçay
(link-science) (link- free pdf)

There is another article describing Roughgarden's theory in California wild called "The Myth of Sexual Selection" and a response by Michael T. Ghiselin: "Sexual Selection"

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