Special Reviews

Sexual Selection, Receiver Biases, and the Evolution of Sex Differences

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Science  25 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5385, pp. 1999-2003
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5385.1999

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Abstract

REVIEW

Recent approaches to analyzing the evolution of female mating preferences emphasize how historical influences on female receiver systems can bias the evolution of male traits that females find attractive. These studies combine animal behavior, sensory biology, phylogenetics, and artificial neural network models. They attempt to understand why specific phenotypes involved in sexual selection have evolved, rather than merely determining whether such traits and preferences are adaptive. It is now clear that traits and preferences often do not coevolve via genetic correlations, that female mating preferences for a given male trait are influenced by adaptations and constraints outside of the context of female responses to that particular trait, and that receiver biases can explain much of the diversity in male signaling phenotypes. It also appears that an understanding of historical effects will prove valuable in investigating why neural and cognitive systems respond to sensory stimuli as they do.

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