The coevolution of sexual imprinting by males and females

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    Sexual imprinting is the learning of a mate preference by direct
    observation of the phenotype of another member of the population. How
    preferences are learned can affect trait evolution and speciation rates.
    Sexual imprinting can be paternal, maternal or oblique if individuals learn
    to prefer the phenotypes of their fathers, mothers or other members of the
    population, respectively. Models of polygynous systems suggest that
    females should evolve to imprint on their fathers, because paternal
    imprinting helps females to choose mates that will provide offspring that
    are both viable and sexy. Sexual imprinting by males has also been
    observed, but a theory for the evolution of sexual imprinting by males does
    not exist. We developed a model to study the conditions under which
    sexual imprinting by males or by both sexes can evolve, and to ask which
    sexual imprinting strategies maximise the fitness of the choosy sex. We
    found that when only males imprint, maternal imprinting is the most
    advantageous strategy. When both sexes imprint, it is most advantageous
    for both sexes to use paternal imprinting. Previous theory suggests that, in
    a given population, either males or females but not both will evolve
    choosiness in mating. We show how environmental change can lead to the
    evolution of sexual imprinting behaviour by both sexes in the same
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)7113–7125
    JournalEcology and Evolution
    Issue number19
    Early online date14 Sept 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2016


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