In some promiscuous species, sexual conflict runs in reverse, reveals a new study published online on November 29th in Current Biology, a publication of Cell Press. Among African topi antelopes, females are the ones who aggressively pursue their mates, while males play hard to get.
The classical view of sexual conflict holds that males, for whom reproducing is cheap, will mate as much as possible. On the other hand, females, who must pay a heftier price, are choosier about their mating partners.
When biologists talk about the Battle of the Sexes, they often tacitly assume that the battle is between persistent males who always want to mate and females who dont, said Jakob Bro-Jrgensen of University of Jyvskyl in Finland. However, in topi antelopes, where females are known to prefer to mate with males in the center of mating arenas, weve found a reversal of these stereotypic sex roles.
Such role reversals may occur in species where females benefit from mating multiply, either because it increases their chances of conception with high-quality males or simply because it increases the probability that they conceive at all, Bro-Jrgensen added. He noted that this reversed sexual conflict might not be a rarity in the animal kingdom, as topi are in many ways a very typical mammalian species characterized by male mate competition and female choice.
In promiscuous speciesthose in which individuals mate with multiple partners within a short time periodBro-Jrgensens group suspected that females might sometimes have higher optimum mating rates than their mating partners. Topi antelope offered an ideal opportunity for studying the dynamics of sex roles in promiscuous mammals, Bro-Jrgensen said, because over a month and a half, individual females become receptive to mating for roughly one day, when they mate several times with each of about four males on average. Females prefer to mate with those males who have succeeded in acquiring territo
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