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.
Beat Müller | idw
Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen
23.02.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Atomic Design by Water
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy