Current Perspectives on Sexual Selection: What's left after Darwin? (History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences, Volume 9)

Current Perspectives on Sexual Selection: What's left after Darwin? (History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences, Volume 9)

Language: English

Pages: 322

ISBN: 9401779902

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This root-and-branch re-evaluation of Darwin’s concept of sexual selection tackles the subject from historical, epistemological and theoretical perspectives. Contributions from a wealth of disciplines have been marshaled for this volume, with key figures in behavioural ecology, philosophy, and the history of science adding to its wide-ranging relevance. Updating the reader on the debate currently live in behavioural ecology itself on the centrality of sexual selection, and with coverage of developments in the field of animal aesthetics, the book details the current state of play, while other chapters trace the history of sexual selection from Darwin to today and inquire into the neurobiological bases for partner choices and the comparisons between the hedonic brain in human and non-human animals.

Welcome space is given to the social aspects of sexual selection, particularly where Darwin drew distinctions between eager males and coy females and rationalized this as evolutionary strategy. Also explored are the current definition of sexual selection (as opposed to natural selection) and its importance in today’s biological research, and the impending critique of the theory from the nascent field of animal aesthetics. As a comprehensive assessment of the current health, or otherwise, of Darwin’s theory, 140 years after the publication of his Descent of Man, the book offers a uniquely rounded view that asks whether ‘sexual selection’ is in itself a progressive or reactionary notion, even as it explores its theoretical relevance in the technical biological study of the twenty-first century.













to the selection by evolving. Experimental evolution is similar to artificial selection where selection is directly applied to the organism (Edward et al. 2010). Examples are the traditional breeding of domestic animals for particular traits such as size, appearance or productivity. A frequently used approach is to only allow the largest (or smallest) 20 % of individuals each generation to breed (Mackay et al. 2009). This typically produces rapid evolution in the trait selected for. Experimental

Hoelzer GA (1989) The good parent process of sexual selection. Anim Behav 38:1067–1078 Hoffmann CM, Cronin TW, Omland KE (2008) Evolution of sexual dichromatism. 1. Convergent losses of elaborate female coloration in new world orioles (Icterus spp.). The Auk 125:778–789 Holveck M-J, Riebel K (2007) Preferred songs predict preferred males: consistency and repeatability of zebra finch females across three test contexts. Anim Behav 74:297–309 Houston AI (1997) Natural selection and

an important part in the formation of races, and sexual selection has always been a subject which has interested me much.” (Marchant 1916, t. I, p. 182). And again, on 29 April 1867: “in my Essay upon Man I intend to discuss the whole subject of sexual selection, explaining as I believe it does much with respect to man.” (t. I, p. 183). Darwin and Wallace disagreed on the importance of sexual selection in the evolution of secondary sexual characteristics, and also on the question of human

have noted that, for a period of several decades before and to some extent after 1900, Darwin’s version of evolution by natural selection was out of favor with many biologists, who supported other types of evolutionary theory: Lamarckism, theistic evolution, mutationism, orthogenesis (Bowler 1983, 1988). While Darwin’s sexual selection is often considered merely an expression of Victorian prejudice, Bowler claims that, “during the eclipse of Darwinism, sexual selection was even less popular among

ornament in this species has nothing to do a runaway process. 5.2.6 Sexual Selection 3.0: NESCent Definition #3 To clarify the definitional status of sexual selection, in July 2013 I organized a catalyst meeting at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) in Durham, North Carolina. I coined the phrase “sexual selection studies” to serve as an umbrella referring to studies of courtship and mating, parent-offspring relations, family organization, and the interrelations among these.

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