Title

Mate choice for non-additive genetic benefits: A resolution to the lek paradox

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2008

Publication Title

Journal of Theoretical Biology

Volume

254

Issue

1

First Page

147

Last Page

155

DOI

10.1016/j.jtbi.2008.05.019

Keywords

directional selection, genetic quality, heritability, inbreeding, mate choice, overdominance, sexual selection

Abstract

In promiscuous mating systems, females often show a consistent preference to mate with one or a few males, presumably to acquire heritable genetic benefits for their offspring. However, strong directional selection should deplete additive genetic variation in fitness and consequently any benefit to expressing the preference by females (referred to as the lek paradox). Here, we provide a novel resolution that examines non-additive genetic benefits, such as overdominance or inbreeding, as a source of genetic variation. Focusing on the inbreeding coefficient f and overdominance effects, we use dynamic models to show that (I) f can be inherited from sire to offspring, (2) populations with females that express a mating preferences for outbred males (low f ) maintain higher genetic variation than populations with females that mate randomly, and (3) preference alleles for outbred males can invade populations even when the alleles are associated with a fecundity cost. We show that non-additive genetic variation due to overdominance can be converted to additive genetic variation and becomes "heritable" when the frequencies of alternative homozygous genotypes at fitness loci deviate from equality. Unlike previous models that assume an infinite population size, we now show that genetic drift in finite populations can lead to the necessary deviations in the frequencies of homozygous genotypes. We also show that the "heritability of f," and hence the benefit to a mating preference for non-additive genetic benefits, is highest in small populations and populations in which a smaller number of loci contribute to fitness via overdominance. Our model contributes to the solution of the lek paradox. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.