The stereotypical view of males and females has been considered to be largely supported by scientific studies showing elaborate male traits used during combat for access to, or to attract, females. Traditional evolutionary theory predicts that females will be choosy and only mate with males of high quality as females invest more in reproduction (for example during pregnancy); while males will be indiscriminate and eager to mate with any female.

Sandra South investigates mate choice and the evolution of the elaborate feather-like leg ornaments in a brightly coloured Neotropical mosquito. South finds that males of this species not only compete for mates, but also choose between them. These results and similar findings in many other animals- from primates to fruit flies- provided the motivation for South to build on traditional evolutionary theory using mathematical modelling.

South highlights that there is no reason to assume that “beggars can’t be choosers”. Even when males are competing for access to females they should rarely be expected to mate indiscriminately.

“These results challenge explanations for human male behaviours, such as infidelity and rape, that are based on the assumption that males should be more eager to mate and care less about obtaining and maintaining a pair bond with a high-quality mate”, says Sandra South.

For more information, please contact: Sandra Helen South, mobile number: +46 733 58 02 08, e-mail: sandra.south@ebc.uu.se
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