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Trends Ecol Evol. 1998 Dec 1;13(12):498-501.

Should females prefer dominant males?

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Dept of Zoology, Uppsala University, Villavägen 9, S-75236 Uppsala, Sweden.


It is generally believed that success in male-male competition genuinely reflects high quality and that female preference for dominant males should therefore be widespread. However, recent studies suggest that male dominance is not always attractive and that it does not necessarily predict superior parental quality, better genes or other forms of benefit to females. In fact, the costs of choosing a dominant male can sometimes outweigh the benefits. When traits selected by male-male competition do not reflect overall mate quality, females are expected to use other choice cues and might occasionally prefer subordinate males. Thus, male-male competition and female choice can sometimes work in different, or even opposing, directions.


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