Indirect competition

Competition between males isn't always direct face-to-face conflict. Males also compete in indirect ways. In these cases, selection doesn't favor increased male fighting ability; it favors whatever traits are required to gain access to females.

One obvious example of indirect competition is competition to find females. In many species of butterflies, females mate with the first male that finds them, so finding a female fast is a big advantage. Females often produce chemicals called pheromones that the males can smell. As a result, males have evolved to be incredibly sensitive to these pheromones. Some butterfly males can detect a female more than five miles away!

This type of male-male competition is called scramble competition because rather than fighting, the males are scrambling to find the females as fast as they can.

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