Faria GS, Varela SAM & Gardner A (2018) The relation between R. A. Fisher’s sexy-son hypothesis and W. D. Hamilton’s greenbeard effect. Evolution Letters. doi:10.1002/ev13.53
Recent years have seen a growing interest in the overlap between the theories of kin selection and sexual selection. One potential overlap is with regards to whether R. A. Fisher’s “sexy-son” hypothesis, concerning the evolution of extravagant sexual ornamentation, may be framed in terms of W. D. Hamilton’s greenbeard effect, concerning scenarios in which individuals carry an allele that allows them to recognize and behave differently toward other carriers of the same allele. Speciﬁcally, both scenarios involve individuals behaving differently toward social partners who exhibit a phenotypic marker, with linkage disequilibrium between marker and behavior loci ensuring genetic relatedness between actor and recipient at the behavior locus. However, the formal connections between the two theories remain unclear. Here, we develop these connections by: (1) asking what kind of greenbeard is involved in the sexy-son hypothesis; (2) exploring the relationship between the problem of “falsebeards” and the “lek paradox”; (3) investigating whether these two problems may be resolved in analogous ways; and (4) determining whether population structure facilitates both of these evolutionary phenomena. By building this conceptual bridge, we are able to import results from the ﬁeld of kin selection to sexual selection, and vice versa, yielding new insights into both topics.