The eco-evolutionary landscape of power relationships between males and females


Eve Davidian, Martin Surbeck, Dieter Lukas, Peter M Kappeler, and Elise Huchard. 2022. “The eco-evolutionary landscape of power relationships between males and females.” Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 37, 8, Pp. 706-718. Publisher's Version


In animal societies, control over resources and reproduction is often biased towards one sex. Yet, the ecological and evolutionary underpinnings of male–female power asymmetries remain poorly understood. We outline a comprehensive framework to quantify and predict the dynamics of male–female power relationships within and across mammalian species. We show that male–female power relationships are more nuanced and flexible than previously acknowledged. We then propose that enhanced reproductive control over when and with whom to mate predicts social empowerment across ecological and evolutionary contexts. The framework explains distinct pathways to sex-biased power: coercion and male-biased dimorphism constitute a co-evolutionary highway to male power, whereas female power emerges through multiple physiological, morphological, behavioural, and socioecological pathways.