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Content archived on 2024-05-29

Mutual Mate Choice in Arena-breeding Topi Antelopes


Recently, it has been highlighted that most previous theoretical work on mating systems has been flawed, ignoring the profoundly simple fact that each offspring has a mother and a father (Kokako & Jenison, TREE in press). Now it has become clear that under certain conditions mutual mate choice, where both males and females choose, is to be expected. The arena-breeding (\'leek\') system of topic antelopes offers a unique opportunity for an empirical investigation of the topic. Extraordinarily clear evidence of active female mate choice from a wild-living mammal is the applicant\'s demonstration of aggressive mate competition between females on topic leeks (Bro-Jorgensen 2002 PNAS 99/cover story). Such competition suggests that the visibly exhausted preferred males become sperm depleted and might benefit from choosiness as well. The project will build models of sperm depletion, which clarify the basis for mating behaviour and mate choice unreal-life systems. Earlier abstract formulations will be replaced by biological realistic relationships, which take into account that where mating peaks are brief, costs that appear minor can have profound consequences.
Using the topic as a model species, we will explore and parameterise the prospect, that in a liking mammal both sexes can be choosy. Also we will construct spatially explicit individual-based models (IBM’s) of a mammalian mating system, which forth first time integrate resource dispersion, individual quality, mate choice, and the feedback between these factors.
Again the models will be developed based on field data from topic. Broadening the focus to all ungulates (antelopes and deer), the explanatory power of the IBM’s will be tested using data from the literature. Specifically, these models might explain lekevolution by positive feedback from female mate choice on an ideal free distribution of unequal males, when high quality males initially are slightly clustered due to a clumped female.

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