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Aggressive male mating behavior can endanger species
Date:5/16/2011

This release is available in German.

Aggressive male mating behavior might well be a successful reproductive strategy for the individual but it can drive the species to extinction, an international research team headed by evolutionary biologist Daniel Rankin from the University of Zurich has demonstrated in a mathematical model.

Evolutionary biologists have long debated whether the behavior of the individual is able to influence processes on a population or species level. The possibility of selection at species level is still contro-versial. Using a mathematical model, an international team of researchers led by Daniel Rankin, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Zurich, has now demonstrated that aggressive male sexual behavior not only harms the female, but can also cause entire populations to die out. The paper re-cently published in the journal The American Naturalist was made possible by funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

For their study, the scientists concentrated on the extreme sexual conflict of seed beetles, which are considered as pests in agriculture. Male seed beetles have barbed penises which make it impossible for the female to shake off an unwelcome mate. The aggressive males have a higher reproductive rate as they are more successful than less aggressive males; however, they harm the female during the mating process. The researchers have now shown that the greater mating success of aggressive males can result in the males of a species becoming more aggressive in general. The aggression spiral has dramatic consequences for the population and species: More females are harmed during mating and die from their injuries. This means the females become scarcer as a resource for the males and the species eventually dies out. Individual interests and the interests of the population co
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Contact: Daniel J. Rankin
daniel.rankin@ieu.uzh.ch
41-446-356-148
University of Zurich
Source:Eurekalert

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