paradox of the lek
lesser birds of paradise and the lek
Definition A phenomenon described in many animals–frogs, fish, birds, mammals, and yes, even humans, in which a female selects a mate from a group or “lek”*, based on elaborate mating displays and intangible factors.
*A lek is a group of males that engage in competitive displays to entice visiting females checking out prospective partners for copulation. Leks are not unlike “singles bars” in which chicks choose. The image is that of lekking lesser birds of paradise.
The paradox lies in the fact that all of the males in the lek come from the same, highly evolved gene pool in which no male offers anything more–i.e., no genetic advantage to the female–than any other male “displaying” in the lek.
Synonym Lek paradox