Male-mediated prenatal loss: Functions and mechanisms.
Sexually selected infanticide has been the subject of intense empirical and theoretical study for decades; a related phenomenon, male-mediated prenatal loss, has received much less attention in evolutionary studies. Male-mediated prenatal loss occurs when inseminated or pregnant females terminate reproductive effort following exposure to a nonsire male, either through implantation failure or pregnancy termination. Male-mediated prenatal loss encompasses two sub-phenomena: sexually selected feticide and the Bruce effect. In this review, we provide a framework that explains the relationship between feticide and the Bruce effect and describes what is known about the proximate and ultimate mechanisms involved in each. Using a simple model, we demonstrate that male-mediated prenatal loss can provide greater reproductive benefits to males than infanticide. We therefore suggest that, compared to infanticide, male-mediated prenatal loss may be more prevalent in mammalian species and may have played a greater role in their social evolution than has previously been documented.
Zipple, MN; Roberts, EK; Alberts, SC; Beehner, JC
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