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female choiceWeibchenwahl (ger.)

  • The decision made by a female individual to allow a certain male individual to inseminate her.

    In their seasons of courtship, they [individuals of the ruff] pair as other birds; but not without violent contests between the males, for the choice of the female.

    Goldsmith, O. (1774). A History of the Earth and Animated Nature, vol. 6: 31; cf. Ward, S. (1775). The Natural History of Birds, vol. III: 171.


    Ev’n Doralis whose streaming eyes bewail / Her noble lover senseless, cold, and pale, / Even she perchance had join’d the [general voice, / But sense of shame, that curbs the female choice, / Forbade her speech

    Hoole, J. (transl.) (1783). Orlando Furioso (1532), vol. 4: 27 (XXX, 517).]


    [It would appear that the female is not so desirous for copulation as the male. We find in most animals, if not in all, that the male always courts the female; that she requires being courted to give her desires, otherwise she would not have them so often.

    Hunter, J. [c. 1790]. Essays and Observations on Natural History, Anatomy, Physiology, Psychology, and Geology, ed. by R. Owen, vol. 1, London 1861: 194.]


    the female, though comparatively passive, generally exerts some choice and accepts one male in preference to others. Or she may accept, as appearances would sometimes lead us to believe, not the male which is the most attractive to her, but the one which is the least distasteful. The exertion of some choice on the part of the female seems almost as general a law as the eagerness of the male.

    Darwin, C. (1871). The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex: 273.


    An English naturalist insists that the claspers of certain male animals could not have been developed through the choice of the female! Had I not met with this remark, I should not have thought it possible for any one to have read this chapter and to have imagined that I maintain that the choice of the female had anything to do with the development of the prehensile organs in the male. […]
    The males sedulously court the females, and in one case, as we have seen, take pains in displaying their beauty before them. Can it be believed that they would thus act to no purpose during their courtship? And this would be the case, unless the females exert some choice and select those males which please or excite them most. If the female exerts such choice, all the above facts on the ornamentation of the males become at once intelligible by the aid of sexual selection.[...]
    With respect to female birds feeling a preference for particular males, we must bear in mind that we can judge of choice being exerted, only by analogy.

    Darwin, C. (1871/74). The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex: 210; 342; 420-1.


    Sexual selection is the outcome of natural— the strong males capture the females by struggle, and transmit their types. The selection of the best males is by female choice (birds, animals), hence improvement of racial features and animal types.

    H.A.S. [1888]. Darwin and his Works. A Biological & Metaphysical Study: 16.


    by far the larger portion of the phenomena, which he [Mr. Darwin] endeavours to explain by the direct action of sexual selection, can only be so explained on the hypothesis that the immediate agency is female choice or preference. It is to this that he imputes the origin of all secondary sexual characters other than weapons of offence and defence, of all the ornamental crests and accessory plumes of birds, the stridulating sounds of insects, the crests and beards of monkeys and other mammals, and the brilliant colours and patterns of male birds and butterflies. He even goes further, and imputes to it a large portion of the brilliant colour that occurs in both sexes, on the principle that variations occurring in one sex are sometimes transmitted to the same sex only, sometimes to both, owing to peculiarities in the laws of inheritance. In this extension of sexual selection to include the action of female choice or preference, and in the attempt to give to that choice such wide-reaching effects, I am unable to follow him more than a very little way

    Wallace, A. R. (1889). Darwinism. An Exposition of the Theory of Natural Selection with Some of its Applications: 283.