Sexual selection alternative slammed

Biologists write to Science to defend the theory of sexual selection

Nick Atkinson
May 4, 2006
Forty biologists have contributed a total of ten letters to Science this week, all critiquing a review paper published in February suggesting that reproductive behavior is explained better by cooperative game theory than by the theory of sexual selection first proposed by Darwin. "The review is a poor piece of scholarship, which is consequently misleading, and from that point of view should not have been published," Kate Lessells, based at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology and lead author on one of the letters, told The Scientist. In the review, Joan Roughgarden of Stanford University in California and two co-authors claim that sexual selection theory, which emphasizes the often-different interests of males and females, is fatally flawed. Males are frequently characterized as competing to fertilize as many females as possible, while females seek relatively few, high quality mates, given their limited production of gametes. The authors propose an...