Mate Choice: Simple or Complex? *

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4 Author(s)

Focusing on situations in which sexual preferences inspect several traits, this paper explores the question of how complex the process of assessing mate attractiveness might get, through self-organization, over the course of evolution: do sexual preferences evaluate traits in a simple, linear way or in a complex, nonlinear fashion? Arguments and simulation results (individual-based model in which preferences with different degrees of evaluation-complexity “compete” in a population) are presented, suggesting that a bias should exist, and that its direction should depend on levels of different types of noise (in perception and in the mate-evaluation process) and on mutation rates: while noise in perception and mutation favor simple preferences, noise in evaluation favors complex ones; for possibly the most plausible parameters, complex preferences are favored. Possible implications on the speciation process are mentioned. This novel way of looking at mate choice could be a rich source of new insights in this intrigu]ng process