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Review Article
Nature 350, 33 - 38 (07 March 1991); doi:10.1038/350033a0

The evolution of mating preferences and the paradox of the lek

Mark Kirkpatrick & Michael J. Ryan

Department of Zoology, University of Texas, Austin, Texas 78712, USA.

Why do females prefer elaborate male mating displays in species where they receive little more from males than their sperm? Here we review three hypotheses for the evolution of mating preferences: direct selection, the runaway process and the parasite mechanism. There is growing support for direct selection, in which preferences evolve because of their direct effects on female fitness rather than the genetic effects on offspring resulting from mate choice.

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