A growing body of evidence has begun to reveal flaws in the traditional assumption of female passivity and lack of discrimination after copulation has begun. William Eberhard has compiled an impressive array of research on the ability of females to shape the outcome of mating. He describes studies of many different cryptic mechanisms by which a female can accept a male for copulation but nevertheless reject him as a father. Evidence from various fields indicates that such selectivity by females may be the norm rather than the exception. Because most post-copulatory competition between males for paternity is played out within the bodies of females, female behavior, morphology, and physiology probably often influence male success in these contests. Eberhard draws examples from a diversity of organisms, ranging from ctenophores to scorpions, nematodes to frogs, and crickets to humans.
Cryptic female choice establishes a new bridge between sexual selection theory and reproductive physiology, in particular the physiological effects of male seminal products on female reproductive processes, such as sperm transport, oviposition, and remating. Eberhard interweaves his review of previous studies with speculation on the consequences of this theoretical development, and indicates promising new directions for future research.
Preface and Acknowledgments
1 What Is Cryptic Female Choice? 3
2 Selection on Cryptic Female Choice 44
3 Principal Mechanisms of Cryptic Female Choice 80
4 Other Mechanisms of Cryptic Female Choice 142
5 Evidence That Cryptic Female Choice is Widespread, I: Copulatory Courtship and Related Phenomena 204
6 Evidence That Cryptic Female Choice Is Widespread, II: Effects of Male Sexual Products on Females 256
7 Evidence That Cryptic Female Choice Is Widespread, III: Male and Female Morphology 331
8 Related Topics 367
9 Evidence Ruling Out Cryptic Female Choice: Is It Common? 397
10 Summary and Conclusions 416
Subject Index 489
Taxonomic Index 492
William G. Eberhard is a member of the scientific staff of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and Professor of Biology at the Escuela de Biologia of the Universidad de Costa Rica. He is the author of Sexual Selection and Animal Genitalia.
"This book could change the way you think about females [...] [It] is an easy, well-organized read [...] Female Control makes it clear that females surely must have partial or complete control over some aspects of reproduction [...] [It] is destined to be an influential book, and deserves to be a citation classic."
– American Zoologist