ABSTRACT: In many non-monogamous systems, males invest less in progeny than do females. This leaves males with higher potential rates of reproduction, and a likelihood of sexual conflict, including, in some systems, coercive matings. If coercive matings are costly, the best female strategy may be to avoid male interaction. We present a model that demonstrates female movement in response to male harassment as a mechanism to lower the costs associated with male coercion, and the effect that female movement has on selection in males for male harassment. We found that, when females can move from a habitat patch to a refuge to which males do not have access, there may be a selection for either high, or low harassment male phenotype, or both, depending on the relationship between the harassment level of male types in the population and a threshold level of male harassment. This threshold harassment level depends on the relative number of males and females in the population, and the relative resource values of the habitat; the threshold increases as the sex ratio favours females, and decreases with the value of the refuge patch or total population. Our model predicts that selection will favour the harassment level that lies closest to this threshold level of harassment, and differing harassment levels will coexist within the population only if they lie on the opposite sides of the threshold harassment. Our model is consistent with empirical results suggesting that an intermediate harassment level provides maximum reproductive fitness to males when females are mobile.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 05/2012; 279(1741):3209-16. · 5.41 Impact Factor