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handicap selectionHandikapselektion (ger.)

  • Selection that favours extravagant male traits because they indicate male prowess.

    [The handicap principle as understood here suggests that the marker of quality should evolve to handicap the selected sex in a character which is important to the selecting sex, since the selecting sex tests, through the handicap, the quality of its potential mate in characters which are of importance. Hence the attracting character which evolved through mate preference should be related to the special ecological problems of the species. The adaptive significance of the attracting character should lower the fitness of the selected sex in relation to the main ecological problems of the species. The selecting sex should be attracted by a marker only when the handicap it imposes on its mate and its offspring is smaller than the advantage gained by securing a better (tested) mate. This evolutionary mechanism need not be different in its rate from any other selection process.

    Zahavi, A. (1975). Mate selection – a selection for a handicap. J. Theor. Biol. 53, 205-214: 213-4.]


    Maynard Smith really deals with this issue only in the special application of Zahavi's theory of handicap selection.

    Williams, G.C. (1978). [Rev. Maynard Smith, J. (1978). The Evolution of Sex]. The Quarterly Review of Biology 53, 287-289: 289.