COSTECH Integrated Repository

The evolution of reversed sex roles and classical polyandry: Insights from coucals and other animals

Show simple item record

dc.creator Safari, Ignas
dc.creator Wolfgang, Goymann 2021-05-05T10:09:28Z 2021-05-05T10:09:28Z 2020 2021-05-06T13:10:16Z 2021-05-06T13:10:16Z
dc.identifier Safari, I., & Goymann, W. (2021). The evolution of reversed sex roles and classical polyandry: Insights from coucals and other animals. Ethology, 127(1), 1-13.
dc.description Full Text Article. Also available at
dc.description In most animals, competition for mating opportunities is higher among males, whereas females are more likely to provide parental care. In few species, though, these "conventional" sex roles are reversed such that females compete more strongly for matings and males provide most or all parental care. This "reversal" in sex roles is often combined with classical polyandry—a mating system in which a female forms a harem with several males. Here, we review the major hypotheses relating such role reversals to evolutionary and behavioural traits (anisogamy, phylogenetic history, sexy males, parental care, genetic paternity, trade‐off between mating and parenting, adult sex ratio) and to ecological factors (food supply, offspring predation). We evaluate each hypothesis in relation to coucals (Centropodinae), a group of nesting cuckoos of great interest for mating system and parental care theory. The black coucal (Centropus grillii) is the only known bird combining classical polyandry with altricial development of young, a costly trait with regard to parental care. Our long‐term study offers a unique possibility to compare the strongly polyandrous black coucal with a monogamous close relative breeding in the same area and habitat, the white‐browed coucal (C. superciliosus). We show that the evolution of sex roles in coucals and other animals has many different facets. Whereas phylogenetic constraints are important, confidence in genetic paternity is not. In combination with facilitating ecological conditions, adult sex ratios are key to understanding sex roles in coucals, shorebirds, and most likely also other animals. We plead for more studies including experimental tests to understand how biased adult sex ratios emerge and whether they drive sexual selection or vice versa. How do sex ratios and sexual selection interact and feedback on each other? Answers to these questions will be fundamental for understanding the evolution of sex roles in mating and parenting in coucals and other species
dc.language en
dc.publisher Wiley
dc.subject Sex roles
dc.subject Mating system
dc.subject Classical polyandry
dc.subject Polyandry
dc.subject Coucals
dc.subject Centropodinae
dc.subject Anisogamy
dc.subject Centropus grillii
dc.title The evolution of reversed sex roles and classical polyandry: Insights from coucals and other animals
dc.type Article

Files in this item

Files Size Format View

There are no files associated with this item.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record


Advanced Search


My Account