Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Aggressive male mating behavior can endanger species

16.05.2011
Aggressive male mating behavior might well be a successful reproductive strategy for the individual but it can drive the species to extinction, an international research team headed by evolutionary biologist Daniel Rankin from the University of Zurich has demonstrated in a mathematical model.

Evolutionary biologists have long debated whether the behavior of the individual is able to influence processes on a population or species level. The possibility of selection at species level is still controversial.

Using a mathematical model, an international team of researchers led by Daniel Rankin, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Zurich, has now demonstrated that aggressive male sexual behavior not only harms the female, but can also cause entire populations to die out. The paper recently published in the journal The American Naturalist was made possible by funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

For their study, the scientists concentrated on the extreme sexual conflict of seed beetles, which are considered as pests in agriculture. Male seed beetles have barbed penises which make it impossible for the female to shake off an unwelcome mate. The aggressive males have a higher reproductive rate as they are more successful than less aggressive males; however, they harm the female during the mating process. The researchers have now shown that the greater mating success of aggressive males can result in the males of a species becoming more aggressive in general.

The aggression spiral has dramatic consequences for the population and species: More females are harmed during mating and die from their injuries. This means the females become scarcer as a resource for the males and the species eventually dies out. Individual interests and the interests of the population contrast greatly in the present case.

In economics, such clashes of individual and group interests are referred to as the “tragedy of the commons”. The principle refers to the overexploitation of collective resources and serves, among other things, to describe human dilemmas related to environmental pollution and global warming. In nature, the tragedy of the commons is limited as aggressive behavior is costly for the individual. This also explains why such severe sexual conflicts as in the case of the seed beetle cannot be observed everywhere. Species with too high an injury rate during reproduction have driven themselves to ex-tinction in the course of evolution. In the case studied, the female’s tactical response is to steer clear of aggressive males.

“In nature, there are many examples of tragedies of the commons,” says Daniel Rankin. What he means is that understanding how nature solves the tragedy of the commons could also inspire solu-tions to human problems.

Further reading:
Daniel J. Rankin, Ulf Dieckmann and Hanna Kokko: Sexual conflict and the tragedy of the commons. In: The American Naturalist. Vol 177, June 2011. http://www.zora.uzh.ch/42049/
Contact:
Dr. Daniel J. Rankin
University of Zurich
Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Tel.: + 41 44 635 61 48
Cell: +41 78 648 99 05
Email: daniel.rankin@ieu.uzh.ch

Beat Müller | idw
Further information:
http://www.uzh.ch/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bacteria as pacemaker for the intestine
22.11.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Researchers identify how bacterium survives in oxygen-poor environments
22.11.2017 | Columbia University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>