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The Evolution of Mate Preferences for Multiple Sexual Ornaments

Yoh Iwasa and Andrew Pomiankowski
Evolution
Vol. 48, No. 3 (Jun., 1994), pp. 853-867
DOI: 10.2307/2410492
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410492
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Evolution of Mate Preferences for Multiple Sexual Ornaments
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Abstract

Males of many species use multiple sexual ornaments in their courtship display. We investigate the evolution of female sexual preferences for more than a single male trait by the handicap process. The handicap process assumes that ornaments are indicators of male quality, and a female benefits from mate choice by her offspring inheriting "good genes" that increase survival chances. A new handicap model is developed that allows equilibria to be given in terms of selection pressures, independent of genetic parameters. Multiple sexual preferences evolve if the overall cost of choice is not greatly increased by a female using additional male traits in her assessment of potential mates. However, only a single preference is evolutionarily stable if assessment of additional male traits greatly increases the overall cost of choice (more than expected by combining the cost of each preference independently). Any single preference can evolve, the outcome being determined by initial conditions. The evolution of one preference effectively blocks the evolution of others, even for traits that are better indicators of male quality. Comparison is made with sexual selection caused by Fisher's runaway process in which male traits are purely attractive characters. This shows that sexual preferences for multiple Fisher traits are likely to evolve alongside preference for a single handicap trait that indicates male quality. This is a general difference in the evolutionary outcome of these two causes of sexual selection.

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