Research Talk: Agent-based Model of a Biologically Plausible Mating Task

April 5, 2016
10:30 am - 11:30 am
Halligan 209
Speaker: Giordano Ferreira, Tufts University


Behavioral ecology is a field of Biology interested in understanding the influence of ecological pressures in animal behavior. The research field called Artificial Life (ALife) examines human-made computational systems that contain some properties of living entities in order to explain biological phenomena. One relevant problem that biologists investigate is how animals select mates because it is important for these species to be able to find good partners. Two main theories of female mate choice have been hypothesized and supported by biological data. Females choose: (1) the best male from the n closest males (best-of-n), and (2) the closest with some minimum quality (min-threshold). In this talk, I will present an ALife approach for the mating task of the gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor) that uses a biologically plausible agent-based model. In the first part of the talk I will compare the two strategies regarding the average quality of the chosen males, and the search cost to females, and in the second part I will show the negative outcomes caused by accidental matings, i.e., when a female mates with a male she did not choose. I will conclude with a discussion of potential areas for further research.