Mate choice is one of the primary mechanisms under which evolution can occur. The evaluation will then incur a response of some sort. These mechanisms are a part of evolutionary change because they operate in a way that causes the qualities that are desired in a mate to be more frequently passed on to each generation over time. For example, if female peacocks desire mates who have a colourful plumage, then this trait will increase in frequency over time as male peacocks with a colourful plumage will have more reproductive success. Mate choice is one of two components of sexual selection , the other being intrasexual selection. Ideas on sexual selection were first introduced in , by Charles Darwin , then expanded on by Ronald Fisher in At present, there are five sub mechanisms that explain how mate choice has evolved over time.
Thus, males who have a high-quality diet will have brighter red plumage. In a manipulation experiment, female house finches were shown to prefer males with brighter red patches.
Also, males with naturally brighter patches proved better fathers and exhibited higher offspring-feeding rates than duller males. Genetic compatibility refers to how well the genes of two parents function together in their offspring.
Choosing genetically compatible mates could result in optimally fit offspring and notably affect reproductive fitness.
However, the genetic compatibility model is limited to specific traits due to complex genetic interactions e. The choosy sex must know their own genotype as well as the genotypes of potential mates in order to select the appropriate partner. A controversial but well-known experiment suggests that human females use body odor as an indicator of genetic compatibility. In this study, males were given a plain T-shirt to sleep in for two nights in order to provide a scent sample.
College women were then asked to rate odors from several men, some with similar MHC major histocompatibility complex genes to their own and others with dissimilar genes. MHC genes code for receptors that identify foreign pathogens in the body so that the immune system may respond and destroy them. Since each different gene in the MHC codes for a different type of receptor, it is expected that females will benefit from mating with males who have more dissimilar MHC genes.
This will ensure better resistance to parasites and disease in offspring. Researchers found that women tended to rate the odors higher if the male's genes were more dissimilar to their own. They concluded that the odors are influenced by the MHC and that they have consequences for mate choice in human populations today. Similar to the humans of the odor-rating experiment, animals also choose mates based upon genetic compatibility as determined by evaluating the body odor of their potential mate s.
Some animals, such as mice, assess a mate's genetic compatibility based on their urine odor. In an experiment studying three-spined sticklebacksresearchers found that females prefer to mate with males that share a greater diversity of major histocompatibility complex MHC and in addition possess a MHC haplotype specific to fighting the common parasite Gyrodactylus salaris.
The genetic diversity of animals and life reproductive success LRS at the MHC level is optimal at intermediate levels rather than at its maximum,   despite MHC being one of the most polymorphic genes. As long as a heritable component exists in expression patterns, natural selection is able to act upon the trait.
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Therefore, gene expression for MHC genes might contribute to the natural selection processes of certain species and be in fact evolutionarily relevant.
In species where mating biases exist, females are typically the choosy sex because they provide a greater parental investment than males. However, there are some examples of sex role reversals where females must compete with each other for mating opportunities with males. Species that exhibit parental care after the birth of their offspring have the potential to overcome the sex differences in parental investment the amount of energy that each parent contributes per offspring and lead to a reversal in sex roles.
For many years it has been suggested that sexual isolation caused by differences in mating behaviours is a precursor for reproductive isolation lack of gene flowand consequently speciationin nature. Speciation by this method occurs when a preference for some sexual trait shifts and produces a pre-zygotic barrier preventing fertilisation.
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These processes have been difficult to test until recently with advances in genetic modelling. There is evidence of early speciation through mate preference in guppies. Guppies are located across several isolated streams in Trinidad and male colour patterns differ geographically. Female guppies have no coloration but their preference for these colour patterns also vary across locations.
In a mate choice study, female guppies were shown to prefer males with colour patterns that are typical of their home stream. There is a similar trend shown in two species of the wood white butterfly, L. Female L. This female mate choice has encouraged speciation of the two wood whites. The black-throated blue warblera North American bird, is another example. Asymmetric recognition of local and non-local songs has been found between two populations of black-throated blue warblers in the United States, one in the northern United States New Hampshire and the other in the southern United States North Carolina.
In contrast, southern males respond equally to both local and non-local songs. The fact that northern males exhibit differential recognition indicates that northern females tend not to mate with "heterospecific" males from the south; thus it is not necessary for the northern males to respond strongly to the song from a southern challenger.
A barrier to gene flow exists from South to North as a result of the female choice, which can eventually lead to speciation. In humans, males and females differ in their strategies to acquire mates and focus on certain qualities. There are two main categories of strategies that both sexes utilize: short-term and long-term. While there are a few common mating systems seen among humans, the amount of variation in mating strategies is relatively large.
This is due to how humans evolved in diverse niches that were geographically and ecologically expansive. This diversity, as well as cultural practices and human consciousness, have all led to a large amount of variation in mating systems. Below are some of the overarching trends of female mate choice.
Dating coupling and mate selection
Although, in humans, both males and females are selective in terms of whom they decide to mate with, as is seen in nature, females exhibit even more mate choice selection than males. However, relative to most other animals, female and male mating strategies are found to be more similar to one another than they are different. According to Bateman's principle of Lifespan Reproductive Success LRShuman females display the least variance of the two sexes in their LRS due to their high obligatory parental investmentthat is a nine-month gestational period, as well as lactation following birth in order to feed offspring so that their brain can grow to the required size.
Human female sexual selection can be examined by looking at ways in which males and females are sexually dimorphic, especially in traits that serve little other evolutionary purpose.
For example, male traits such as the presence of beards, overall lower voice pitch, and average greater height are thought to be sexually selected traits as they confer benefits to either the women selecting for them, or to their offspring.
Experimentally, women have reported a preference for men with beards and lower voices. Female mate choice hinges on many different coinciding male traits, and the trade-off between many of these traits must be assessed. The ultimate traits most salient to female human mate choice, however, are parental investment, resource provision and the provision of good genes to offspring. Many phenotypic traits are thought to be selected for as they act as an indication of one of these three major traits.
The relative importance of these traits when considering mate selection differ depending on the type of mating arrangement females engage in. Human women typically employ long-term mating strategies when choosing a mate, however they also engage in short-term mating arrangements, so their mate choice preferences change depending on the function of the type of arrangement.
Women do not always seek out and engage in long-term mating arrangements. This is evidenced by factors such as the evolved male tendency to seek out multiple sexual partners-a trait that could not have evolved if women were not also historically engaging in short-term arrangements  -and by the tendency of some women to pursue affairs outside of their long-term couple pairings. David Buss outlines several hypotheses as to the function of women's short-term mate choices:.
While there has been evidence and research to support the existence of short term mating in women, it has nevertheless been shown that women prefer long term partners over short term mates. This preference is due to women's tendency to invest and require more energy for parental care.
In long-term mating arrangements, women typically look for males who will provide a high level of parental investment, and who can provide resources to the woman or to her offspring.
These include older age-older males have had more time to accrue resources-industriousness, dependability and stability-if a woman's long-term partner is not emotionally stable or is not dependable then their provision of resources to her and her offspring are likely to be inconsistent. Additionally, the costs associated with an emotionally unstable partner such as jealousy and manipulation may outweigh the benefits associated with the resources they are able to provide.
Women's mate choice is not as straightforward as selecting a mate that displays all of her desired qualities. Often, potential mates will possess some qualities that are desirable and some that are not, so women must assess the relative costs and benefits of their potential partners' traits and 'trade off'. Women's mate choices will also be constrained by the context in which they are making them, resulting in conditional mate choices.
Generally, it is unusual for males within a species to be the choosy sex. There are many reasons for this. In humans, following sexual reproductionthe female is obliged to endure a nine-month pregnancy and childbirth.
Conversely, female humans are born with a fixed amount of egg cells which are not restocked over the lifespan. Despite not being the typically choosy gender, human males can be influenced by certain traits of females when making decisions about a potential mate: .
When finding a short-term mate, males highly value women with sexual experience and physical attractiveness. Although from an evolutionary perspective women are usually the choosy sex, if a human male has the desire to reproduce he may seek certain qualities in a potential mate who could be the mother of his offspring.
Humans have the ability to rely on biological signals of reproductive success and non-biological signals, such as the female's willingness to marry. The parasite-stress theoryotherwise known as pathogen stress, states that parasites or diseasesstress the development of organisms, leading to a change in the appearance of their sexually attractive traits. It indicates that physical attractiveness serves as a method by which humans can determine resistance to parasites, as it's believed that parasites and diseases would lower the ability to portray attractive traits of those who are suffering or have suffered from a disease, and would also limit the number of high-quality pathogen-resistant mates.
The Hamilton-Zuk hypothesis  see Indicator traits has greatly influenced research regarding human mate choice. The initial research showed that, within one species brightly colored birdsthere was greater sexual selection for males that had brighter plumage feathers. In addition, Hamilton and Zuk showed that, between multiple species, there is greater selection for physical attributes in species under greater parasitic stress.
In cultures where parasitic infection is especially high, members of that society use cues available to them to determine the physical health status of the potential mate. Gangested and Buss say that research indicates that parasite stress may have only influenced mate choice through females searching for "good genes" which show parasite resistance, in areas which have high prevalence of parasites. Major histocompatibility complex MHC or, in humans, human leukocyte antigen HLA produces proteins that are essential for immune system functioning.
The genes of the MHC complex have extremely high variability, assumed to be a result of frequency-dependent parasite-driven selection and mate choice. This is believed to be so it promotes heterozygosity improving the chances of survival for the offspring. In experiments using rats, MHC-associated mate choice indicated that odor cues played a role.
It was found that when processing MHC-similar smells were processed faster. The study concludes that there is no correlation in attraction between men and women of dissimilar HLA proteins.
A review article published in June concluded that there is no correlation between HLA and mate choice. By using the larger data set to conduct analysis on 30 couples of European descent, they generate findings contrary to previous studies that identified significant divergence in the mate choice with accordance to HLA genotyping. Additional studies have been conducted simultaneously on African and European populations that only show correlation of MHC divergence in European but not African populations.
In the late 19th century, Charles Darwin proposed that cognition, or " intelligence ," was the product of two combined evolutionary forces: natural selection and sexual selection. Cognition may be functioning to attract mates in taxa extending beyond humans. Female preference for males with enhanced cognitive ability "may be reflected in successful males' courtship displaysforaging performance, courtship feeding or diet-dependent morphological traits.
Instead, researchers generally investigate female choice by reason of morphological traits correlated with cognitive ability. Although there is some evidence that females assess male cognitive ability when choosing a mate, the effect that cognitive ability has on survival and mating preference remain unclear. Some discrepancies also need to be resolved.
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For example, inCatchpole suggested that in songbirdsfemales preferred males with larger song repertoires. Learned song repertoire was correlated with the size of the High Vocal Center HVC in the brain; females may then use song repertoire as an indicator of general cognitive ability.
Rather than a general cognitive ability, male songbirds were found to have specific cognitive abilities that did not positively associate. As ofmore research was needed on what extent cognitive abilities determine foraging success or courtship displays, what extent behavioural courtship displays rely on learning through practice and experience, what extent cognitive abilities affect survival and mating success, and what indicator traits could be used as a signal of cognitive ability.
One possible research direction would be on the indirect benefits of mating with males with enhanced spatial cognition in mountain chickadees.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. See also: Mating call. Main articles: Fisherian runaway and Sexy son hypothesis. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Main article: Major histocompatibility complex and sexual selection. Animal Behaviour.
Sexual Selection. Princeton University Press. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences. The American Naturalist. R In Bateson, Patrick ed.
Mate Choice. John Murray, London.
Eugenic Review. Adaptation and Natural Selection. Sex and evolution.
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Get started today! Edit a Copy. Study these flashcards. Alexis W. A form of courtship involving a series of appointed meetings for social interaction and activities during which an exclusive relationship may evolve between two people.
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