Men Aren't Useless Afterall: Scientists Discover Link Between Males and Extinction
It has been long been hypothesized that competition between males to win over females ensures survival of the fittest. Researchers have now managed to demonstrate just that in the lab.
Researchers at University of East Angila have used Tribolium flour beetles to show that sexual selection helps in preventing extinction. The study conducted over 10 years involved changing levels of competition for females. The study saw scenarios where as many as 90 males competed for 10 females through to complete absence of competition, with single pairs producing offspring in monogamous relationships.
After about 50 generations, researchers used inbreeding as a force of extinction. They found populations which had high levels of competition during mating, survived even after 20 generations of inbreeding, whereas populations with weak or negligent sexual selection went extinct by 10 generations.
"Our research shows that competition among males for reproduction provides a really important benefit, because it improves the genetic health of populations. Sexual selection achieves this by acting as a filter to remove harmful genetic mutations, helping populations to flourish and avoid extinction in the long-term," said Prof. Matt Gage.
The study also answers why sexual reproduction and males, who play an important in sex, are essential for species' healthy survival.
"In the absence of sex, populations accumulate deleterious mutations through a ratcheting effect where each new mutation takes a population closer to extinction. Sexual selection helps to remove those mutations, enabling populations to persist against the threat of extinction," Gage added.