Parasite-mediated sexual selection: to mate or not to mate?

Alistair Pirrie, Hettie Chapman, Ben Ashby

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section

7 Citations (SciVal)


The concept of sexual selection has been around since Darwin, but the notion of parasites being a major driver of sexual selection in their hosts is relatively recent. Sparked by the inception of the Hamilton–Zuk hypothesis four decades ago, parasite-mediated sexual selection (PMSS) has since been a major focus of both theoretical and empirical research in evolutionary biology. This chapter discusses the development and current state of PMSS research, from the main hypotheses (good genes, transmission avoidance, parental care), to empirical data and mathematical modeling. It pays special attention to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and considers the implications of host–parasite coevolution for PMSS, including recent theoretical advancements in this area. Finally, the chapter identifies directions for future theoretical and empirical research into PMSS.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnimal Behavior and Parasitism
EditorsVanessa Ezenwa, Sonia Altizer, Robert Hall
Place of PublicationOxford, U.K.
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780192895561
ISBN (Print)9780192895561
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2022


  • Hamilton-Zuk hypothesis
  • PMSS
  • good genes
  • host-parasite coevolution
  • parasitism
  • sexual selection
  • transmission avoidance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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