Female mammals follow their noses to the right mates
March 18, 2009
Female birds often choose their mates based on fancy feathers. Female mammals, on the other hand, may be more likely to follow their noses to the right mate. That's one conclusion of Cambridge zoologist Tim Clutton-Brock and Harvard researcher Katherine McAuliffe, whose review of evidence for female mate choice is published in the March 2009 issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology.
Historically, most examples of female mate choice and its evolutionary consequences are found in birds. The classic case is the peacock's tail. The ornate tails do nothing to help peacocks survive. Rather, they emerged because peahens prefer to mate with males that have showy plumage.
Such vivid examples of female preferences in mammals are harder to find, leading to an assumption that mate choice plays a smaller role in mammals than in birds. But that's not necessarily the case, Clutton-Brock and McAuliffe conclude. Female mating preferences are likely to be just as important in mammals, though they may not be as obvious to human observers.
The researchers point out several factors that complicate the study of mammalian mate choice. One factor is the very nature of mammalian mating systems. Males compete fiercely with each other for access to female partners. Since the dominant males often chase away other males, it's hard to tell if females are choosing to mate with certain males, or are merely mating with them by default.
"The most convincing evidence for female mate choice in mammals comes from studies of captive mammals -carried out under controlled conditions where the effects of male competition can be excluded -," Clutton-Brock and McAuliffe write.
Lab studies of olfactory signaling, they say, may provide the best evidence for female mate choice in mammals. Unlike birds, many mammal species are sexually active at night. So mammals may be less inclined than birds to base preferences on visual cues. Instead, females of many mammalian species may be more likely to choose males using olfactory cues.
Research has shown that female mammals commonly investigate scent marks left by males. Females also show a preference to mate with males who scent mark more frequently.
Just what can a female learn about a male through his scent? Plenty, say Clutton-Brock and McAuliffe.
Recent studies have shown that mammalian females use scent to pick out genetically dissimilar males. Parents with dissimilar genes in a certain part of the genome tend to produce healthier offspring. So male mammals advertise their genotype via scent, and females pick up the signal and preferentially mate with dissimilar males. This ability to sniff out a good genetic match has been found in mice and humans.
Other studies of several rodent species have found that females dislike odors of males who are infected with parasites, and may avoid mating with them. Since resistance to parasites is often a genetic trait, choosing a parasite-free mate may be beneficial to offspring.
Study of olfactory mating cues is still in its infancy, Clutton-Brock and McAuliffe say. But they believe that this line of research will continue to reveal much about mammalian mate choice.
"[I]t is possible that in some mammals, males produce olfactory signals that match the elaboration and complexity of the peacock's tail - or the sedge warbler's song -," Clutton-Brock and McAuliffe write.
University of Chicago Press Journals
Related Mate Choice Current Events and Mate Choice News ArticlesFirst impressions: When the mating market resembles a super market
Two things people always need in life: food and love. According to psychologists, understanding the forces that drive both our hunger and our desire could help us eat healthier and have more satisfying relationships. Evolution in action: Mate competition weeds out GM fish from population
Purdue University research found that wild-type zebrafish consistently beat out genetically modified Glofish in competition for female mates, an advantage that led to the disappearance of the transgene from the fish population over time. Big butts aren't everything to male baboons
While the female baboon's big red bottom may be an eyesore to some, it has an aphrodisiac effect on her mates. Biologists have long thought that baboon males prefer females with bigger backsides as the mark of a good mother, but new research suggests it isn't so simple. How does fertility affect women's desire for variety in products?
Women seek a greater variety of products and services when they are ovulating, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.Female mice do not avoid mating with unhealthy males
Female mice are attracted more strongly to the odour of healthy males than unhealthy males. Secret wing colors attract female fruit flies
Bright colours appear on a fruit fly's transparent wings against a dark background as a result of light refraction. Researchers from Lund University in Sweden have now demonstrated that females choose a mate based on the males' hidden wing colours.How female flies know when to say 'yes'
A fundamental question in neurobiology is how animals, including humans, make decisions. A new study publishing in the open access journal PLOS Biology on October 7 reveals how fruit fly females make a very important decision: to either accept or reject male courtship.Skin coloring of rhesus macaque monkeys linked to breeding success, new study shows
Skin colour displayed amongst one species of monkey provides a key indicator of how successfully they will breed, a new study has shown.The genes tell crows to choose partners that look alike
Crows like to select mates that look alike. In a large-scale genomic study, published in Science today, a team of researchers led by Uppsala University found that this behaviour might be rooted in their genetic make-up, revealing a likely common evolutionary path that allows for separating populations into novel species. Study finds wild coho may seek genetic diversity in mate choice
A new study by researchers at Oregon State University suggests that wild coho salmon that choose mates with disease-resistant genes different from their own are more likely to produce greater numbers of adult offspring returning to the river some three years later.
More Mate Choice Current Events and Mate Choice News Articles
Pierce's Choice (Pack Mates Book 5)|
by Lynn Tyler
The fifth book in the Pack Mates series is finally back on the shelves!
After having been removed from his parents' home for his own safety, Pierce Nevitt has lived his entire life at someone else’s whim. The tiger omega has been protected and coddled from the outside world, denied the one thing he wants more than anything: Gavin.
Gavin Jackson ran away from Pierce, terrified of getting too attached, only to discover it was too late. Freshly graduated, he’s been assigned as one of Pierce’s bodyguards when he is moved to Smooth Rock Falls.
Now, someone is trying to kidnap omegas, and the two of them need to figure out who and why before their newly re-kindled love is torn apart forever in Lynn Tyler’s newest addition to the bestselling Pack Mates series.
by Patrick Bateson (Editor)
Animals may be careful in their choice of mates for a variety of reasons. The ideal mate may have to hold valuable resources as well as being highly fertile or fecund. As likely as not, it should be neither too closely related nor too distantly related, and it should be maximally attractive. All these aspects of a member of the opposite sex may influence how many descendants the pair could produce, but the importance of each will usually depend on the sex and the species of the individual making the choice. This book brings together modern thinking on the various functions of mate choice and its role in evolution. The ways in which finely tuned preferences for a particular member of the opposite sex develop are described, as is the importance of compatibility between mates in long-lived...
Ride: Choices (Puca Mates) (Volume 6)|
by A.C. James (Author)
Cynthia Becket is seriously falling for the sexy Chieftain of the púca clan. This curvy girl gets more than she bargained for when confronted with a paranormal Realm, its close-knit shifter community, and the possibility of gaining a daughter and family she never imagined.
Fallon O’Leary argues with his stallion who wants Cyn as their mate and queen. He’s completely taken with the plus size model. However, the circumstances regarding how Cyn stumbled into the Realm make it impossible for him to claim her.
Will Cyn become his queen or choose her life in London?
How to Marry the Man of Your Choice|
by Margaret Kent (Author)
The first truly prescriptive guide to attracting and marrying the right man, this book offers a detailed, step-by-step program with advice on how to dress, behave in public, mix praise and criticism, guide a good relationship into a solid marriage and much more! Advertising in major national magazines.
A Forever Kind of Love (Choices Series Book 2)|
Book Two: Jax’s Story
I believe in soul mates. Why? Because I have one and her name is Lily Madison.
I’ve loved Lily my whole life; she’s all I’ve ever known. I didn’t realize how deeply she was ingrained into the fabric of my soul until I felt her absence.
Sometimes in life, once choices are made and paths are altered, it is often impossible to go back.
I know this because I stand here with a two-carat engagement ring in my hand, waiting to ask someone to be my wife. I’m ready to love and cherish her ‘til death do us part. But, there’s just one problem.
She isn’t Lily.
Will the choices that have been made change our path forever or can fate find its way?
*This is the second and final book in...
Mate Choice in Plants (MPB-19): Tactics, Mechanisms, and Consequences. (MPB-19) (Monographs in Population Biology)|
by Nancy Burley (Author), Mary F. Willson (Author)
This book maintains that higher plants manifest some degree of sexual selection, and it begins to build a framework that unifies many features of plant reproduction previously considered unrelated. Reviewing evidence for sexual selection in plants, the authors discuss possible male-female interactions, concluding with an extensive set of hypotheses for testing. Mechanisms that could be employed in sexual selection in plants include various cellular mechanisms, such as both nuclear and cytoplasmic genetics, B chromosomes, and paternal contributions to the zygote, as well as abortion, double fertilization, delayed fertilization, and certain forms of polyembryony. This study compares the consequences of these processes for the evolution of mate choice in "gymnosperms" and...
Barbarian's Choice: A SciFi Alien Romance (Ice Planet Barbarians Book 12)|
I might be the only unmated female in my tribe, but it doesn’t mean I’ve given my heart. I’m waiting. I want resonance, and I won’t settle for anything less.
But when an alien ship lands and a handsome stranger steps out, I know he’s the one. His name’s Mardok and he’s fascinatingly different – and distractingly appealing. But Mardok can’t stay on the ice planet, and he says he can take me with him.
Now, I must make a choice. Do I stay and lose my mate forever? Or do I follow him to the stars and leave behind everything I know?
The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World - and Us|
by Richard O. Prum (Author)
A major reimagining of how evolutionary forces work, revealing how mating preferences—what Darwin termed "the taste for the beautiful"—create the extraordinary range of ornament in the animal world.
In the great halls of science, dogma holds that Darwin's theory of natural selection explains every branch on the tree of life: which species thrive, which wither away to extinction, and what features each evolves. But can adaptation by natural selection really account for everything we see in nature?
Yale University ornithologist Richard Prum—reviving Darwin's own views—thinks not. Deep in tropical jungles around the world are birds with a dizzying array of appearances and mating displays: Club-winged Manakins who sing with their wings, Great Argus Pheasants who...
Date or Soul Mate?: How to Know if Someone is Worth Pursuing in Two Dates or Less|
by Neil Clark Warren (Author)
He feels a strong attraction to her. She wonders if he could be "the one." In the glamorous haze of early romantic attraction it's hard to know whether a relationship will lead to true love-or to a negative or even catastrophic relationship. This book helps men and women who want healthy and satisfying marriages identify the early warning signs of an unhealthy relationship. Dr. Warren shows readers how to hold out for God's best for their lives instead of settling for the first one to come along and outlines the factors that increase the chances for marital success. For those who want to become wiser in their relationship choices, this practical guide will help them find the love they want and avoid the pain they don't need. Revised edition of How to Know If Someone Is Worth Pursuing...
Terik (A Sci Fi Alien Weredragon Romance) (Drackon Mates)|
Terik found his match, but she belongs to his enemy. But it’s never too late…
Dr. Adriana Adams is a geologist with a chance to study a rock from an
alien world. But the only way to get to the alien world is to register as a
bride to a Drackon weredragon. She finds a registration match in Captain
Mordikye Nezis and follows him to Sala, but she was not expecting to fall
for another weredragon, Land Sentinel Terik Vuna in the process. His long
dark hair, rugged looks, muscular form and a passion for land have her torn
between two desires – her career aspirations and her heart.
Land Sentinel Terik Vuna has never found a human female
match, but when he sees a photo of Dr. Adriana Adams he
knows that she is the one for him....