Ornaments, Not Just for Christmas

When the average person hears the word ornament they think of Christams. The lights, smell of pine trees, with big red and silver globes hung from the branches, but ornaments aren’t just for the holidays. Organisms can possess ornate physical traits that are used for sexual selection. The males organisms of various species don’t have the advantage of having a mistletoe to kiss under, so they use ornamental traits and features to attract mates.

Ornamental features were defined by Darwin as dramatized traits used for the competitive behavior among mate acquisition. These traits often cause a cost to the physical resources of the organism and have no survival benefit. Females are thought of as passive, choosy, and coy while males get the reputation of being competitive and sexually indiscriminate. This theory of the contrast in sexual behaviors, although over simplified, gives a good representation of why male organisms possess these traits to attract females. However, females posses these ornamental traits as well for a whole different reason.

Unlike their male counterparts, females who display ornamental traits will utilize these traits for competing with other females when in comes to ecological resources instead of mate competition. These resources include those for reproductive fitness and materials needed to rear their young. The use of ornamental traits also has an impact on the social structure between females. In this aspect it is hard to differentiate which traits in females or males are due to social selection rather than more widely known and accepted sexual selection.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.