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Myrna Wooders: Female Competition

Since attending the 1986-1987 University of Bielefeld Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies research year organised by Professor Reinhard Selten, I've had an on-going interest in evolutionary theory and also in evolutionary game theory. Another recent interest of mine is female competition. This area of research now occupies all my "spare" time. A number of discussions with Arthur Robson (Department of Economics, University of Western Ontario) and Hugovan den Berg (Department of Mathematics, University of Warwick) have contributed significantly to this research.

To give the reader some flavour of the research, following is an abstract for my presentation at the World Game Theory Congress, to be held in Bilbao July 24-28th, 2000 and then links to two papers on the topic of female competition.

Female Competition, Near-Monogamy and Sexual Dimorphism; An Evolutionary and Game-Theoretic Approach

Sexual size dimorphism, that is, the difference between the average size of males and females, in humans and primates is considered to be the result of male sexual selection and competition between males for females. Males who are successful in combat with other males -- large, strong males -- will have more opportunities to reproduce and thus their genes will proliferate. The role of the female has been to choose, to the extent that the female has a choice in the matter, the best, the strongest, the biggest male, in brief, the most fit. This view is pervasive in the biological literature. Robin Dunbar, for example, observes that:"Body size dimorphism varies from primates in which males weigh more than twice as much as females to those in which females are slightly larger than males. If body size influences male competition, then sexual selection should produce larger males." (Dunbar, from The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Human Evolution 1992, p. 151)It has also been noted that the extent of polygyny is positively correlated with sexual dimorphism. Georgina Mace (1992), for example, writes:"Across the primates it is clear that an absence of sexual dimorphism is commonly associated with monogamy (having one mate only, usually for the animal's lifetime), whereas its presence is generally correlated with polygyny." (Mace, from The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Human Evolution 1992, p.55)The studies reported in the current paper incorporate female sexual selection and female competition into an evolutionary model with the aim of providing an explanation of these phenomena.


See also:

Wooders, Myrna and Hugo van den Berg, (2001) "The battle of the sexes over the distribution of male surplus," Economics Bulletin, Vol. 3, no. 17 pp. 1-9.

Wooders, Myrna and Hugo van den Berg, (2001), "Female Competition, Evolution and the Battle of the Sexes," University of Warwick Department of Economics Working Paper # 620.