Sexual selection as a consequence of pathogen avoidance behaviors

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The current theory that sexual selection results from female choice for good genes suffers from several problems. An alternative explanation is proposed. The pathogen avoidance hypothesis argues that the primary function of showy traits is to provide a reliable signal of current disease status so that sick individuals may be avoided during mating. Our studies shown that a significant risk of pathogen transmission occurs during mating and that showy traits are reliable indicators of current disease status. The origin of female choosiness is argued to lie in a general tendency to avoid sick individuals, even in the absence of showy ... continued below

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34 p.

Creation Information

Loehle, C. & Logofet, D.O. August 1, 1997.

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  • Loehle, C. Argonne National Lab., IL (United States)
  • Logofet, D.O. Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow (Russian Federation). Laboratory of Mathematical Ecology

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Description

The current theory that sexual selection results from female choice for good genes suffers from several problems. An alternative explanation is proposed. The pathogen avoidance hypothesis argues that the primary function of showy traits is to provide a reliable signal of current disease status so that sick individuals may be avoided during mating. Our studies shown that a significant risk of pathogen transmission occurs during mating and that showy traits are reliable indicators of current disease status. The origin of female choosiness is argued to lie in a general tendency to avoid sick individuals, even in the absence of showy traits. The showy traits are argued to originate as simple exaggerations of normal traits that are indicative of good health (bright feathers; vigorous movement; large size). Thus the origins of both showy traits and female choosiness are not problematic in this theory. A game theory analysis is employed to formalize the theory. Results of the game theory model support the theory. In particular, when the possession of male showy traits does not help reduce disease in the female, then showy traits are unlikely to occur. This case corresponds to the situation in large flocks or herds in which every animal is thoroughly exposed to all group pathogens on average. Such species do not exhibit showy traits. The good genes model does not make this prediction. The pathogen avoidance model can also lead to the evolution of showy traits even when selection is not effective against a given pathogen (e.g., when there is no heritable variation for resistance) but will lead to selection for resistance if such genes are present. Overall, the pathogen avoidance hypothesis provides a complete alternative to the good genes theory.

Physical Description

34 p.

Notes

OSTI as DE97008533

Source

  • Other Information: PBD: [1997]

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  • Other: DE97008533
  • Report No.: ANL/ER/PP--86548
  • Grant Number: W-31109-ENG-38
  • DOI: 10.2172/519133 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 519133
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc698347

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Creation Date

  • August 1, 1997

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Aug. 14, 2015, 8:43 a.m.

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  • Dec. 15, 2015, 12:12 p.m.

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Loehle, C. & Logofet, D.O. Sexual selection as a consequence of pathogen avoidance behaviors, report, August 1, 1997; Illinois. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc698347/: accessed September 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.