January 2, 2021 at 4:00 pm

Quantitative Biology Seminar | A Game Theory Approach to Evolution of Mating Systems, Feb. 2

Dr. Donald Miles, portrait

Dr. Donald Miles

The Quantitative Biology Seminar series presents Dr. Donald Miles discussing “A game theory approach to the evolution of mating systems” on Feb. 2 at 4 p.m. on Zoom.

  • Zoom: 834 0163 5589 and passcode: Y70pUY

The seminar is sponsored by the Quantitative Biology Institute. Miles is Professor of Biological Sciences at Ohio University.

Abstract: Mating system theory based on economics of resource defense has been applied to describe social system diversity across taxa. We suggest an alternative explanation based on frequency dependent competition among genetically determined alternative behavioral strategies characterizing many social systems (polygyny, monogamy, sneak). We modeled payoffs for competition, neighborhood choice, and paternal care to determine evolutionary transitions among mating systems. Our model predicts 4 stable outcomes driven by the balance between cooperative and agonistic behaviors: promiscuity (2 or 3 strategies), polygyny, and monogamy. Phylogenetic analysis of 288 rodent species support core assumptions of our model and is consistent with patterns of evolutionarily stable states and mating system transitions. Both the model and phylogenetic analyses demonstrate monogamy and polygyny evolve from promiscuity, monogamy and polygyny occur in sister taxa more often than chance, and paternal care and monogamy, an assumption of our model, co-evolved in rodents. Transitions to monogamy also favor higher speciation rates in subsequent lineages, relative to polygynous sister lineages. Taken together, our results suggest that genetically based neighborhood choice behavior and paternal care can drive transitions in mating system evolution. While our genic mating system theory could complement resource based ecological explanations, it can explain mating system transitions regardless of resource distribution and provides alternative explanations such as evolutionary inertia when resource ecology and mating systems mismatch.

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