Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Reproductive ecology of men

... from the mighty, hallowed halls of UNM Anthropology!

Why do men marry and why do they stray?

Jeffrey Winking, Hillard Kaplan, Michael Gurven, Stacey Rucas

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences Early Online Publishing

Abstract: Humans are quite unusual compared to other great apes in that reproduction typically takes place within long-term, iteroparous pairings—social arrangements that have been culturally reified as the institution of marriage. With respect to male behaviour, explanations of marriage fall into two major schools of thought. One holds that marriage facilitates a sexual division of labour and paternal investment, both important to the rearing of offspring that are born helpless and remain dependent for remarkably long periods (provisioning model). And the other suggests that the main benefits which men receive from entering into marriage derive from monopolizing access to women's fertility (mating effort model). In this paper, we explore extramarital sexual relationships and the conditions under which they occur as a means of testing predictions derived from these two models. Using data on men's extramarital sexual relationships among Tsimane forager–horticulturists in lowland Bolivia, we tested whether infidelity was more common when men had less of an opportunity to invest in their children or when they risked losing less fertility. We found that Tsimane men appear to be biasing the timing of their affairs to when they are younger and have fewer children, supporting the provisioning model.

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