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Some animals take on a single partner, possibly for life, while others have multiple partners over their lifetime, possibly even at the same time. What are the advantages to each approach, and how much is conscious choice verses instinct?

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  • $\begingroup$ Only Polygamy or the more generic polyamory? $\endgroup$ – Crettig Jul 17 '18 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ This question seems really broad. What, in specific, are you trying to figure out. The advantages and disadvantages depend strongly on the type of creature and how advanced it is, and the question about choice vs instinct applies a human-centric view of animals which doesn't really make a lot of sense. $\endgroup$ – James Jul 17 '18 at 21:51
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    $\begingroup$ Have you researched the available sources of information? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Jul 17 '18 at 21:57
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    $\begingroup$ This doesn't look too broad to me as an old student of the life sciences. I might just offer an answer too. $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Jul 18 '18 at 3:40
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    $\begingroup$ Why are you asking this on Worldbuilding? It looks more like a biology question. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jul 18 '18 at 6:01
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Polygamy spreads genetics further, but usually you trade that spread for care of the offspring.

Monogamy means less genetic diversity, but the offspring usually get more attention and care, meaning they're more likely to survive.

So it's more babies where more will die, or less babies that take more energy to grow and nurture but more likely to survive.

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    $\begingroup$ This sums it up. Monogamy encourages the father to stick around and help the mother care for the offspring, since they aren't looking for other mates (unless the mother dies). There is an incentive for males to cheat, though, since (if successful) they can get somebody else to look after their own child. Polygamy is a broad term here. If you mean a harem, only a relative handful of males will spread their genes (good for selecting the best, not so good for genetic diversity). If you simply mean mating and moving on, it allows lots of gene spread but with lower survival rates for children. $\endgroup$ – Palarran Jul 18 '18 at 0:35

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