Optimizing mating encounters by sexually dimorphic movements

J R Soc Interface. 2017 May;14(130):20170086. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2017.0086.

Abstract

All organisms with sexual reproduction undergo a process of mating, which essentially involves the encounter of two individuals belonging to different sexes. During mate search, both sexes should mutually optimize their encounters, thus raising a question of how they achieve this. Here, we show that a population with sexually dimorphic movement patterns achieves the highest individual mating success under a limited lifespan. Extensive simulations found and analytical approximations corroborated the existence of conditions under which sexual dimorphism in the movement patterns (i.e. how diffusively they move) is advantageous over sexual monomorphism. Mutual searchers with limited lifespans need to balance the speed and accuracy of finding their mates, and dimorphic movements can solve this trade-off. We further demonstrate that the sexual dimorphism can evolve from an initial sexually monomorphic population. Our results emphasize the importance of considering mutual optimization in problems of random search.

Keywords: Lévy walk; anisogamy; movement ecology; mutual search problem.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Models, Biological*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*