Keast Lecture: Beauty and the beast - the evolutionary ecology of male reproductive antics

10 May 2013

Dr Bob Wong (Biological Sciences, Monash University) presents the 2013 Keast Lecture.

Dr Bob Wong, Keast lecturer for 2013.
Dr Bob Wong, Keast lecturer for 2013.

The reproductive interests of males and females rarely coincide. The idea of reproduction as a cooperative and harmonious venture between the sexes is a fallacy - the animal world is, in fact, rife with sexual conflict. So how does this conflict play out when it comes to finding a suitable mate?

Traditionally, males are thought to maximise their reproductive pay offs by mating with as many females as possible. Indeed, in most species, males will compete vehemently with each other for access to mating opportunities. For females, however, it's more a case of quality rather than quantity, with evidence suggesting that females maximise their reproductive success by being selective over their choice of mating partners.

Both mechanisms - male competition and female mate choice - underpin sexual selection, the process first proposed by Charles Darwin to explain the evolution of elaborate secondary sexual traits, such as the beautiful plumes of the male bird of paradise and the claw waving antics of the fiddler crab.

So how do the two processes of sexual selection operate in practice? Are the biggest and most dominant males the best suitors for choosy females (as Darwin himself had originally surmised)? And are males as permissive when it comes to sex as traditionally thought? This talk will provide answers by drawing on recent insights into male reproductive strategies from the sexual selection literature.

Time: 1-2pm

Location: DT Anderson lecture theatre, Heydon-Laurence Building A08

Contact: Cecily Oakley

Phone: 02 9351 4543

Email: 5b05200803101938404c2903223d0152301d41280d