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Title: Conflict in context : a critique and investigation into the logic, nature, and evolutionary consequences of competition in animals
Author: Raihani, Gina
ISNI:       0000 0001 3505 5456
Awarding Body: University of Bath
Current Institution: University of Bath
Date of Award: 2007
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The conventional logic of competition assumes a general 'struggle' between organisms for access to food or mates. As a consequence of this 'struggle', it is suggested that the most vigorous and competitive individuals usually win out at the expense of their rivals. Despite the clear advantage certain individuals have over others, fitness gradients are maintained in all natural populations. I address this paradox using two complementary approaches. First, I address gender-biased assumptions embedded in traditional mate choice models, and critically examine the extent to which evolution is driven by malemale competition, which is assumed to favour the most vigorous males. I propose that such androcentric bias exposed by feminist critiques is a symptom of a larger problem posed by the conventional neo-Darwinian paradigm. Therefore, I address some of the problems associated with the conventional logic of competition, and propose an alternative perspective, which may help to dissolve the inconsistencies embedded in our current logic. To complement my theoretical critiques, I explored intraspecific competition in three different animal taxa: Birds, insects, and mammals. My first objective was to investigate the effects of reproductive competition on male morphology and mating behaviour in bustards (Otididae). Then, in the American Rubyspot damselfly (Hetaerina americana), I explored how reproductive competition influences alternative mating behaviours in males. Finally, I used what has been considered an unusual animal, spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta), to expose the problem of rigid male-biased approaches to science, and how they have been responsible for mis-representing a number of animal groups including spotted hyenas. Then, I investigated various forms of competition and cooperation in the female dominance hierarchy with a special focus on the relationship between female social rank and the pattern of female coalition formations, and their evolutionary consequences in terms of female reproductive success and group dynamics. Finally, I integrate these studies into a coherent framework, which focuses on the active ways in which animals respond to and influence diverse contexts of competition.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available