Population Genetics

Nonrandom Mating

If individuals nonrandomly mate with their peers, the result can be a changing population. There are many reasons nonrandom mating occurs. One reason is simple mate choice. For example, female peahens may prefer peacocks with bigger, brighter tails. Natural selection picks traits that lead to more mating selections for an individual. One common form of mate choice, called assortative mating, is an individual’s preference to mate with partners who are phenotypically similar to themselves.

Another cause of nonrandom mating is physical location. This is especially true in large populations spread over vast geographic distances where not all individuals will have equal access to one another. Some might be miles apart through woods or over rough terrain, while others might live immediately nearby.