Quantifying male attractiveness

JM McNamara, AI Houston, MMLS dos Santos, H Kokko, R Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Genetic models of sexual selection are concerned with a dynamic process in which female preference and male trait values coevolve. We present a rigorous method for characterizing evolutionary endpoints of this process in phenotypic terms. In our phenotypic characterization the mate-choice strategy of female population members determines how attractive females should find each male, and a population is evolutionarily stable if population members are actually behaving in this way. This provides a justification of phenotypic explanations of sexual selection and the insights into sexual selection that they provide. Furthermore, the phenotypic approach also has enormous advantages over a genetic approach when computing evolutionarily stable mate-choice strategies, especially when strategies are allowed to be complex time-dependent preference rules. For simplicity and clarity our analysis deals with haploid mate-choice genetics and a male trait that is inherited phenotypically, for example by vertical cultural transmission. The method is, however, easily extendible to other cases. An example illustrates that the sexy son phenomenon can occur when there is phenotypic inheritance of the male trait.
Translated title of the contributionQuantifying male attractiveness
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1925 - 1932
JournalPhilosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences
Volume270 (1527)
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2003

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Royal Soc London
Other identifier: IDS number 724HQ

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