BIOLOGY 402/502 SEXUAL SELECTION

Drs. R. Thornhill and P. Watson

Spring 2000, Thursday 12:30 - 2:20 p.m.
Room 19, Castetter Hall
Two Credits.


This course will examine the modern study of sexual selection, one of the
major areas of current research in evolutionary biology. General topics
considered will be the general mechanisms bringing about sexual selection.
Current important research regarding each mechanism will be discussed.

I. Intrasexual selection

A. Male-male competition mechanisms

1. Acting before mating

2. Acting during mating

3. Acting after mating, but before fertilization (e.g., sperm competition)

4. Acting after mating and after fertilization (infanticide; abortion induction)

B. Female-female competition mechanisms (female birds, females in other taxa, including women)

II. Intersexual selection (mate and sire choice)

A. Acting before mating (pre-mating or Darwinian mate choice)

B. Choice during mating (in part, so-called cryptic choice)

C. Choice after mating, but before fertilization (in part, cryptic choice)

D. Choice after mating and after fertilization (in part, cryptic choice)

Other current hot topics will be discussed:

I. Sexual conflict co-evolutionary races (W. Rice; G. Arnqvist; rape)

II. Evolution of extravagant display traits (A. Zahavi; T. Getty; A. Kodric-Brown and J. Brown; handicaps)

III. Evolution of genitalia (G. Arnqvist)

IV. Fluctuating asymmetry and sexual selection (recent empirical reviews and models)

V. Sexually antagonistic traits (W. Rice; human finger ratios)

VI. Recent empirical work on viability-based sexual selection and related ideas (stalk-eyed flies; tree frogs; spiders; biparental birds; humans; evidence for the parasite model of sexual selection)

VII. Recent theoretical work on sexual selection (toxins and viability-based sexual selection; sexual selection and cultural evolution; condition-dependent ornaments; evolution of multiple ornaments)

VIII. Advances in understanding mating system diversity

IX. Sex ratio and sexual selection

X. Alternative strategies and tactics (M. Gross; others)

XI. Sexual coercion (after long neglect, currently receiving attention by biologists as an important form of sexual selection)

XII. Status of various models of evolution by mate choice (Fisher; sensory-bias; good parent, good genes)

Highly recommended texts:
1. Andersson, M. 1994. Sexual Selection. Princeton.
2. Eberhard, W.G. 1996. Female Control: Sexual Selection, by Cryptic Female Choice.
3. Geary, D. 1998. Male, Female: The Evolution of Human Sex Differences.

Class size will be limited to about 20 (first come, first serve basis).
Each student will give a class presentation that reviews and critically analyzes a topic of choice.

Randy Thornhill
277-2804
rthorn@unm.edu
rm 112 Castetter Hall

Paul Watson
277-2515
pwatson@unm.edu
rm 110A, Castetter Hall
Office hours by appointment.