Publication Year: 2014
The evolution of leks--clusters of small territories where males congregate and display in order to attract mates--is of central issue in behavioral ecology, because of the insights it offers into female mate choice, sexual selection, and the evolution of mating systems. In the first book on the subject, Jacob Höglund and Rauno Alatalo draw together existing knowledge on two main aspects of lekking. Why do leks evolve in some species and not in others? Why do females of certain lekking species select their mates even though such behavior reaps few or no material benefits for them? In each case they emphasize the importance of understanding the selective forces that act on individuals in natural populations.
Höglund and Alatalo synthesize the available information on lekking in all animal groups and suggest new areas of research.
Originally published in 1995.
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Published by: Princeton University Press
Series: Princeton Legacy Library
Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright
List of Drawings at Part Openings
Two main aspects of lekking are of interest to evolutionary biologists. The first is that Ieks seem to offer ample oppurtunity for sexual selection. Many studies of sexual selection in lekking species have asked questions about adaptation and how selection molds phenotypes, and seek to answer how bizarre and superficially maladaptive structures, such as elaborate display...
1. What Are Leks?
Some animals, such as the black grouse, mate in arenas, or so-called leks. The terms "lek" and "lekking behavior" were first used for the mating arenas of birds (L. Lloyd 1867), but more or less similar mating aggregations occur in a wide variety of taxa (chapter 2). The main attribute of leks is that the males are aggregated in one area and display close together. On a typical...
2. A Taxonomic Overview
In this chapter we review the taxonomic occurrence of leks. What is a Iekking species? Mating systems can be seen as the result of behavior of individuals in a population. As we will stress in chapter 9, different populations of the same species can have different mating systems. Moreover, the same population of a given species can change mating systems when conditions...
3. Determinants of Male Mating Success
The study of sexual selection in lekking species has received considerable attention during the last decades (see reviews in Balmford 1990, Harvey and Bradbury 1991, Wiley 1991). Interest in this kind of research has to a large extent been motivated by the assumptions that female choice of particular kinds of males is the major cause of nonrandom mating in males and...
4. Female Mating Adaptations
Until recently, studies of sexual selection on Ieks have focused on males. The question being asked has preferentially been the following: Is the variation in male mating success nonrandom, and if so are successful males in any way different from unsuccessful ones? Much attention has been directed toward identifying possible traits that identify males with high mating...
5. Black Grouse: A Case Study
As reviewed above, detailed studies of Ieks have indicated that morphological, spatial, and behavioral traits can be related to male mating success. In some cases these relationships have been confirmed experimentally, indicating that sexual selection is operating directly on the trait in question. In reality, many male traits are likely to be targets of sexual selection and...
6. Comparative Studies
The alternative to direct observation and experimentation to obtain evidence of sexual selection on Ieks is by means of comparative methods (Harvey and Bradbury 1991). Many workers have postulated a relationship between lekking and sexual dimorphism (e.g., Darwin 1871, Lack 1968, Payne 1984). There are, however, few rigorous tests of this relationship. A...
7. A Review of Hypotheses
Though Ieks have evolved, they are not adaptations. Adaptations evolve because the genes for the trait have been favored by natural and/or sexual selection. Leks are the outcome of the behavior of many individuals in a population, and these behaviors are selected to maximize reproductive success at the level of the individual. Selection does not work directly on the...
8. Intraspecific Variation
There is a long tradition in animal ecology of using interspecific comparisons to understand the variation in and evolution of animal mating patterns (e.g., Crook 1964, Emlen and Oring 1977, Clutton-Brock 1989). The basic approach has been to look for similarities in ecology that may explain similarities in mating systems across different species. While using this...
9. Game Theory Models of Leks
Neo-Darwinian doctrine states that all individuals are selected to behave in order to maximize their reproductive success. In doing so they have to compete with other members of the same species and overcome the problems of finding food and avoiding enemies. In many species, including the lekking ones, much of the variance in male lifetime reproductive success...
10. Concluding Remarks and Prospects for Future Studies
In any imaginary species, what are the factors that will lead it to mate on leks, and how do these factors relate to the models we have outlined? The problem in all empirical biology is that in explaining an observed phenomenon, in this case a mating aggregation, we have to make inferences based on our observations. Thus we have to interpret our often sketchy knowledge...
Subject and Species Index
About the Author
Jacob Höglund is Associate Professor in the Department of Zoology at Uppsala University in Sweden. Rauno V. Alatalo is Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland.