Journal article Open Access

Hotshots, Hotspots, and Female Preference in the Organization of Lek Mating Systems

Beehler, Bruce M.; Foster, Mercedes S.

We critically review the female-preference and hotspot models, the two most widely accepted recent explanations of lek organization. On the basis of what we believe are the inadequacies of these models-too great a reliance on the presumed acuity of female discrimination, the assumption that females have full freedom of choice within the lek, and insufficient recognition of the importance of male-male interactions-we develop an alternative set of hypotheses, which we call the hotshot model, to explain the development and maintenance of lek behavior. Our model attributes strong male mating skew to the interaction between (1) simplified and conservative mating rules of females and (2) social dominance among males. We demonstrate the importance of male-male dominance relationships in lek and non-lek court mating systems. We then argue that a strong mating skew among males forces novice males entering a population to adopt a long-term mating strategy that involves delayed breeding (floating) and subordinate lek behavior. The structure of leks is created by a complex of malemale interactions, with conflict between hotshots (who attempt to control lek mating) and subordinates, who may benefit from disrupting lek activities. Explanations for the number of males in an arena and inter-arena distances are based on modifications of the hotspot and female-preference models. We suggest specific field tests to help distinguish which hypothesis best models the behavioral interactions that produce lek mating.

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