Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have been shown to increase the costs of multiple mating and therefore favor relatively monogamous mating strategies. We examine another way in which STDs can influence mating systems in species in which female choice is important. Because more popular males are more likely to become infected, STDs can counteract any selective pressure that generates strong mating skews. We build two models to investigate female mate choice when the sexual behavior of females determines the prevalence of infection in the population. The first model has no explicit social structure. The second model considers the spatial distribution of matings under social monogamy, when females mated to unattractive males seek extrapair fertilizations from attractive males. In both cases, the STD has the potential to drastically reduce the mating skew. However, this reduction does not always happen. If the per contact transmission probability is low, the disease dies out and is of no consequence. In contrast, if the transmission probability is very high, males are likely to be infected regardless of their attractiveness, and mating with the most attractive males imposes again no extra cost for the female. We also show that optimal female responses to the risk of STDs can buffer the prevalence of infection to remain constant, or even decrease, with increasing per contact transmission probabilities. In all cases considered, the feedback between mate choice strategies and STD prevalence creates frequency-dependent fitness benefits for the two alternative female phenotypes considered (choosy vs. randomly mating females or faithful vs. unfaithful females). This maintains mixed evolutionarily stable strategies or polymorphisms in female behavior. In this way, a sexually transmitted disease can stabilize the populationwide proportion of females that mate with the most attractive males or that seek extrapair copulations.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 56 • No. 6