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When cooperation counts
Date:7/30/2014

t the model predicted, but there were many fewer groups that were too big or too small in the promiscuous species," she said. "That is consistent with the idea that sexual selection is driving this trait in the promiscuous species, whereas in the monogamous species, where there's not as much competitive pressure, things are a bit more relaxed, so we see more variance in the clump sizes."

In the end, Mahadevan said, the study represented an ideal collaboration between the theoretical and the empirical.

"If you talk to evolutionary biologists, their approaches are often genetic, because they're trying to understand what the genetic bases are for natural selection pressures," he said. "From a theoretical point of view, the focus is on reproductive capacity. What's interesting in this particular situation is we can take a question of reproductive capacity and add a physiological twist to it that's associated with sperm motility, and then we can take that apart in the context of what happens when you change the shape of the sperm, or their ability to adhere to each other, or their ability to move."

"In my view we haven't so much answered the question as we've sharpened it," he continued. "And we've done by that couching a conceptual notion of competition and cooperation in terms of physical and physiological variables that can be measured and lead to testable predictions."


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Contact: Peter Reuell
preuell@fas.harvard.edu
617-496-8070
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert

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