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Polygamy hurt 19th century Mormon wives' evolutionary fitness
Date:2/22/2011

e disparity among male 'reproductive' haves and have-nots can become quite great."

So if polygamy (or the female equivalent, polyandry) is disadvantageous to most of the sequestered sex and most of the mate-sequestering sex, why should such systems survive?

"The complete answer is still forthcoming," Wade said. "One thing we know now, based on rigorous studies in many species, particularly the fruit fly, is that selection can be so strong on males that it can drag the entire species off of a naturally selected viability optimum."

Wade points to a familiar example.

"Take the peacock," Wade said. "Its tail is magnificent for attracting females and bad for attracting predators. It is believed that in some situations there is a "predator hard cap" on the fitness of sexual characteristics. But there's also research suggesting even the predator hard cap can be overpowered if sexual selection on males is strong enough. That is, males trade high risks to their lives in order to gain large numbers of mates and thereby offspring."


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Contact: David Bricker
brickerd@indiana.edu
812-856-9035
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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