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What is the name of the idea that because one sex will put more resources into reproduction than the other, that sex will try to minimize the number of mates (choosing the best one) and the other sex will try to maximize the number of mates?

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to SE Biology. Please finish the Tour to learn about this site. I have taken the “law” into my own hands, as the term is alien to Biology. Let’s leave it for the physical and mathematical sciences. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Nov 12, 2023 at 22:43

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I don't know if a named "law", and even where those exist it's a bit misleading to use that term because the things called laws in biology (which describe things that often have many exceptions) are nothing like laws in physics (where finding exceptions would be treated as rewriting our basic knowledge of physics).

Anisogamy means differently sized gametes. That Wikipedia page mentions some papers that discuss reasons that one would expect a tendency (but not guarantee) to evolve anisogamy:

Geoff Parker, Robin Baker, and Vic Smith were the first to provide a mathematical model for the evolution of anisogamy that was consistent with modern evolutionary theory.[4] Their theory was widely accepted but there are alternative hypotheses about the evolution of anisogamy.[9][1]

(1) Lehtonen, J.; Kokko, Hanna; Parker, Geoff A. (October 2016). "What do isogamous organisms teach us about sex and the two sexes?". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences. 371 (1706). doi:10.1098/rstb.2015.0532. PMC 5031617. PMID 27619696.

(4) Lehtonen, Jussi (2021-03-05). "The Legacy of Parker, Baker and Smith 1972: Gamete Competition, the Evolution of Anisogamy, and Model Robustness". Cells. 10 (3): 573. doi:10.3390/cells10030573. ISSN 2073-4409. PMC 7998237. PMID 33807911.

(9) Majerus, M. E. N. (2003). Sex Wars: Genes, Bacteria, and Biased Sex Ratios. Princeton University Press. pp. 7–8. ISBN 978-0-691-00981-0.

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You are probably thinking of Bateman's principle. It states that since males are capable of producing millions of gametes that are much "cheaper" than female gametes, males maximize their reproductive success by increasing the number of females they mate with. On the other hand, females are limited by the number of eggs they produce.

Following this, the result would be sexual selection, where males compete for the access to females whereas females are more choosy. By doing so, females might maximize the quality of the male they mate with, and potentially the success of their offspring.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you please not just drop a link but actually explain something in your answer? This is more a comment. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Nov 12, 2023 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ I'd describe Bateman's principle as explaining why anisogamy should be expected to produce certain characteristics like increases variance among individuals of the smaller gamete sex, rather than explaining why anisogamy exists at all. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Nov 13, 2023 at 0:32
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    $\begingroup$ But this was not the question though. The person asking was thinking of Bateman's principle. I elaborated instead of providing a simple link. $\endgroup$
    – CaroZ
    Nov 13, 2023 at 9:35

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