Sex and Evolution

  • Burney J. Le Boeuf

Abstract

When I joined Frank Beach’s laboratory as a new graduate student I was anxious to get started on a project in his research specialty, sexual behavior. During one of our initial meetings, he strongly suggested (as he had done with many others before me) that I go down into the basement of the Life Sciences building and watch laboratory rats mate. One thing that immediately caught my interest was the female’s habit of running from the male as he approached, stopping abruptly, wriggling her ears, and then darting away again as the male gave chase. This behavior seemed to excite the male and invigorated his pursuit. I saw this episode repeated time and time again and it intrigued me all the more because Lynn Clemens, Bill Westbrook, and Jim Wilson, who were running the “sex tests,” assured me that the female was definitely in estrus and receptive to the male’s advances. Then why did she run? Why didn’t she just stand there and copulate? These simple questions plagued my fledgling graduate student mind and led to my first idea about an experiment on sexual behavior. It was simple enough. To determine the function of the female’s puzzling behavior, stop her from performing it, immobilize her and then observe what the male does. Well, for various reasons, the experiment was never done and it is probably just as well.

Keywords

Reproductive Success Sexual Selection Reproductive Strategy Sperm Competition Parental Investment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Burney J. Le Boeuf
    • 1
  1. 1.Crown CollegeUniversity of CaliforniaSanta CruzUSA

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