The value of rarity in sexual behaviour

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences and ANU College of Health & Medicine

Robert Brooks is a biologist curious about how variation in behaviour arises and is maintained in the face of selection. He will present some of his work on mate choice addressing how variation in secondary sexual traits may be maintained by an advantage to rare traits. He proposes to extend that thinking to gendered human behaviour and how much we can use evolutionary thinking to understand demonstrably cultural expressions of masculinity and femininity. He will also consider the question of scarcity in shaping sex differences and ideological beliefs about sex and gender.

Rob is an evolutionary biologist who studies sexual behaviour and its evolutionary, behavioural and social consequences. His work, mostly on small animals, addressed several high-profile problems in biology including the evolution of sex chromosomes, the biology of ageing and longevity, risks of extinction and the genetic benefits of mate choice. In recent years he has turned to the study of sexual behaviour, and particularly sexual conflict in humans. This includes new collaborations with economists, anthropologists and psychologists, as well as popular writing that explores the complex yet fascinating relationships between sex, death and diet.