RE: sexual selection and memes

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Wed Jun 20 2001 - 14:20:14 BST

  • Next message: Chris Taylor: "Re: sexual selection and memes"

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: sexual selection and memes
    Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2001 14:20:14 +0100
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    Very interesting.

    Can one assume, or does the study consider that offspring receiving high
    male parental investment conduct high mpi themselves?

    Maybe all they get is the appearance of high mpi from being well looked
    after, and subsequently get the females regardless of how they then behave
    as parents.

    I don't know if that problematises your idea or not....


    > ----------
    > From: Chris Taylor
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2001 4:35 pm
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: sexual selection and memes
    > Here's a great example of memes exploiting phenotypic plasticity (the
    > effect of varying environments on a standard genotype) in the sparrow. I
    > don't mention it for any particular reason, I just think it's rather
    > interesting because this is meme-to-meme communication via phenotype,
    > with a dollop of sexual selection - but for memes not genes.
    > Basically, male (UK) sparrows have a 'badge' on their chest (a large
    > brown splodge); this is indicative of how well raised they are (i.e. it
    > correlates with the degree of parental care, rather than being
    > inherited). Females select for large chest patches, because male
    > sparrows with such large chest patches are good carers of offspring
    > (i.e. make a large parental investment of time and energy rather than
    > being the classic deadbeat dad). What this amounts to is 'good memes'
    > sexual selection. This is a version of the classic 'good genes' reason
    > for sexual selection (my bright orange arse indicates I'm carrying high
    > fitness alleles); but in this case, the badge indicates that the
    > potential father has experienced extensive paternal care as a young
    > bird, and will therefore repeat this learned behaviour when it is itself
    > a parent. However apart from the ability to display this phenotypic
    > plasticity, no actual genes are being selected for here, even though
    > this is undeniably sexual selection.
    > -----
    > Here's the abstract just in case anyone cares...
    > Nature 400, 358 - 360 (1999) © Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
    > Environmental determination of a sexually selected trait
    > Models of sexual selection usually assume that variation in the
    > expression of sexual ornaments is determined largely by genetic, rather
    > than environmental, factors. However, empirical support for this
    > assumption comes from studies of species with little parental care, in
    > which the influence of environmental factors may be limited, and from
    > studies of just two species, with parental care, in both of which
    > heritability estimates vary hugely between years or populations,. In the
    > remaining studies of species with parental care, it is not known whether
    > resemblance in sexual ornamentation between relatives was due to shared
    > genes or shared patterns of care. Here we use cross-fostering
    > experiments in house sparrows, Passer domesticus, to examine the
    > relative roles of these effects. We demonstrate that, although sons
    > resemble their fathers with respect to sexual ornamentation, this
    > resemblance is mainly due to post-hatching environmental effects rather
    > than shared genes. We also show that sons hatching early in the year
    > have the largest ornaments. These results support models that emphasize
    > the importance of environmental sources of variation, such as direct
    > paternal effects, on the expression of sexual ornaments, and agree with
    > the general observation that sexually selected traits tend to be
    > condition dependent. We urge the incorporation of gene-environment
    > interactions into future models of sexual selection.
    > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    > Chris Taylor (
    > »people»chris
    > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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    > see:

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