Re: sexual selection and memes

From: Chris Taylor (
Date: Wed Jun 20 2001 - 15:32:40 BST

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    Vincent Campbell wrote:
    > 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 agree you'd expect cheaters that always display large badges, but I'm
    not sure if there wouldn't still be a difference between well cared for
    and otherwise (this wasn't really gone into in any depth in the paper).
    As for the investment of sons reflecting that of fathers, the authors
    did state fairly strongly that this was indeed the case.

    I think the thing is that most of these sexually selected indicators are
    just a facility to display a trait, whereas the 'degree' to which that
    trait is displayed is always a measure of realised fitness (i.e. fitness
    of other genes, or in our case, fitness of memes). I think to lose the
    parental behaviour after having experienced it would only be possible if
    the sparrows lost their general learning ability, which would reduce
    their overall fitness considerably; so perhaps this is why there don't
    appear to be any cheaters (not that they looked particularly hard
    actually). Also I should mention that birds born early in the season
    tended to always have larger badges than late birds because life is
    generally better for the earlier broods. If I could get the bloody
    Nature site to work properly (gits) then I'd send round a PDF of it (I
    will if you like when I finally get one, because it's been a few months
    since I last read it).

     Chris Taylor ( »people»chris

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