Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fittest Males Don't Always Get The Girl

Date:
April 16, 2008
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
The fittest males don't always get the girl, biologists report. Study tackles a paradox in species from fruit flies to humans: If warriors win the spoils, why don't males evolve towards super-aggressiveness? Female fruit flies sometimes choose males who win fights, sometimes choose males who do not fight, and sometimes choose males for no obvious reason, say biologists.

The fittest males don't always get the girl, USC biologists report. Study tackles a paradox in species from fruit flies to humans: If warriors win the spoils, why don't males evolve towards super-aggressiveness?

Related Articles


There is more to mating than beating up the competition, according to a new study.

Female fruit flies sometimes choose males who win fights, sometimes choose males who do not fight, and sometimes choose males for no obvious reason, say biologists from the University of Southern California; Cal State University, Sacramento; and the University of California, Davis.

The findings help explain the large variation in aggressiveness in most species, including humans.

"If aggression makes you more likely to father children, all males should be selected to be very aggressive. Male fruit flies (like humans and other animals) show a lot of genetic variation in aggression, and we wanted to find out why," explained study leader Brad Foley, a post-doctoral researcher at USC.

One reason for the variation, according to the study and to previous research on lizards by other groups, may be that no fighting strategy works all the time, just as in the game rock-scissors-paper.

"We showed in fruit flies that even the most genetically aggressive flies can have an Achilles heel, and lose against males who are (for the most part) wimps," Foley wrote.

"There's no single way to win a fight, or win mates," he added. "Females didn't necessarily prefer aggressive males -- some males mated less when they lost fights, but some males mated more if they didn't fight. Moreover, different females preferred different males."

"Unexpected interactions between individuals can define winners and losers (so-called 'chemistry')," Foley concluded. "In order to understand why flies, and humans, and other animals, are so genetically different from each other, we need to stop imagining there's a 'best' kind of strategy."

So while Hamlet was described to have "the courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, sword," it is not clear which part drove Ophelia mad.

Journal reference: Cabral LG, Foley BR, Nuzhdin SV (2008) Does Sex Trade with Violence among Genotypes in Drosophila melanogaster?. PLoS One 3(4): e1986.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001986

The other member of the research team were Larry Cabral of Cal State Sacramento (co-corresponding author with Foley), and Foley's supervisor Sergey Nuzhdin, professor of molecular and computational biology at USC. The paper was written at USC based on experiments conducted at the University of California, Davis, where Foley and Nuzhdin worked previously.

Funding for the study came from the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Fittest Males Don't Always Get The Girl." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080415210626.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2008, April 16). Fittest Males Don't Always Get The Girl. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080415210626.htm
Public Library of Science. "Fittest Males Don't Always Get The Girl." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080415210626.htm (accessed April 21, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deepwater And Dolphins: The Oil Spill's Impact 5 Years On

Deepwater And Dolphins: The Oil Spill's Impact 5 Years On

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2015) Five years on, the possible environmental impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill includes a sustained die-off of bottlenose dolphins, among others. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Five Years Later, the BP Oil Spill Is Still Taking Its Toll

Five Years Later, the BP Oil Spill Is Still Taking Its Toll

AFP (Apr. 20, 2015) On April 20, 2010, an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico started the biggest oil spill in US history. BP recently reported the Gulf is recovering well, but scientists paint a different picture. Duration: 02:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thai Customs Seize African Elephant Tusks Worth $6 Mn

Thai Customs Seize African Elephant Tusks Worth $6 Mn

AFP (Apr. 20, 2015) Thai customs seize four tonnes of African elephant ivory worth $6 million at a Bangkok port in a container labelled as beans. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 17, 2015) A truck carrying honey bees overturns near Lynnwood, Washington, spreading boxes of live bees across the highway. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins