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Sexually transmitted diseases in polygynous mating systems: prevalence and impact

Summary: Sexually transmitted diseases in polygynous
mating systems: prevalence and impact
on reproductive success
Peter H. Thrall1*
, Janis Antonovics2
and Andrew P. Dobson3
Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Commonwealth Scienti˘c and Industrial Research OrganisationöDivision of Plant Industry,
GPO Box 1600, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
2Department of Biology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville,VA 22903, USA
3Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
Studies of disease in relation to animal mating systems have focused on sexual selection and the evolution
of sexual reproduction. Relatively little work has examined other aspects of ecological and evolutionary
relationships between host social and sexual behaviour, and dynamics and prevalence of infectious
diseases; this is particularly evident with respect to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Here, we use a
simulation approach to investigate rates of STD spread in host mating systems ranging from permanent
monogamy to serial polygyny or polyandry and complete promiscuity. The model assumes that one sex
(female) is diˇerentially attracted to the other, such that groups of varying size are formed within which
mating and disease transmission occur. The results show that equilibrium disease levels are generally
higher in females than males and are a function of variance in male mating success and the likelihood of


Source: Antonovics, Janis - Department of Biology, University of Virginia


Collections: Biology and Medicine