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The impact of learning on sexual selection and speciation

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  • Machteld Nicolette Verzijden, Lund University, Denmark
  • Carel ten Cate, The Institute of Biology Leiden, Gorlaeus Laboratoria, Leiden University, Netherlands
  • Maria R. Servedio, Biology Department, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, United States
  • Genevieve M. Kozak, University of Illinois, United States
  • Jenny W. Boughman, Michigan State University, United States
  • Erik I. Svensson, Sweden

Learning is widespread in nature, occurring in most animal taxa and in several different ecological contexts and, thus, might play a key role in evolutionary processes. Here, we review the accumulating empirical evidence for the involvement of learning in mate choice and the consequences for sexual selection and reproductive isolation. We distinguish two broad categories: learned mate preferences and learned traits under mate selection (such as bird song). We point out that the context of learning, namely how and when learning takes place, often makes a crucial difference to the predicted evolutionary outcome. Factors causing biases in learning and when one should expect the evolution of learning itself are also explored.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution (Reference Edition)
Pages (from-to)511-519
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes

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