Good thoughts, TrollHammer. Being young, meeting new elves more often will help to spark spontanious Recognition. Meeting another tribe will increase the probability - new blood for a rather inbreeding tribe will be helpful to keep the population sane and manifold.
But Recognition does not only pick a genetically promising match - it also picks a time, depending on external influences. "Recognition at first sight" is only one facet of the whole picture.
We have seen old lifemates Recognize (Anatim/Toorah, Bearclaw/Joyleaf) and elves who were probably lovemates (Woodlock/Rainsong) or rivals (Buckthorn/Hummer) before. Concentrating on one another very much seems to encourage Recognition, threatening or survived dangers are like a catalyst ... and loss of life in the tribe almost grants new Recognition(s).
The way I see it Recognition is not only for the genetically best match for a child - but for the best available match when a child is needed. Recognition grants best possible offsprings - and keeps the population in balance. Woodlock and Rainsong might have never Recognized without Madcoil's fatal attack - or much later.
Recognition as both birth control and genetic improvement makes much sense for me when I look at the Coneheads.
- They are immortal.
- The live in limited space (first the planet, later the sphere).
- An immortal population that reproduces by will or chance must explode and inevitably destroy their basis of life.
Developing an internal birth control is a logical solution - and when the population is stable reproduction will come to an halt. And WHEN reproduction is rare and offsprings are precious - THEN they should be the best of the best. Recognition grants both.
When you look at it this way it's self-evident that the High Ones started to reproduce shortly after the crash. Their numbers were decimated. There was more than enough space. The hostile environment "promised" more death.
The Coneheads never were infertile - their reproduction system was in hibernation. And after the crash was need of children - the systems "reloaded".
Then - why havn't the Firstcomers and their children Recognized from the start? Instead they had many offsprings out of Recognition. In my opinion the existing system of Recognition was working - it simply switched the mode. The need of new life was so urgent that the rule wasn't "take the best chance" but "take any chance you can get". And only after there was a viable number of elves genetically best matches became important again.
It was even logical that Timmorn was the first to Recognize - his mixed blood made genetically fitting matches a requirement for physically and mentally sane offsprings.
Recognition as birth control and genetical enhancemet ... let's look at the recent tribes:
A comparably small number of long-living elves in hardly limited, dangerous environment - there were Recognitions on a regular basis.
Immortal elves living in rather limited space in a comparably safe environment ... Recognition obviously depended strongly on the number. When the 5 Rootless Ones reached the oasis Savah Recognized Yurek before she was totally matured. In a developed, well populated Sunvillage Anatim and Toorah Recognized at comparably old age. And at the time the Wolfriders arrived birth was rare - a well working healer made "replacements" almost unnecessary.
Immortal elves living in the strictly limited space in almost absolute safety of Blue Mountain. And an "almighty" healer made sure that few accidents didn't cause any loss of life. There was no need for Winnowill to mess with the fertility of the Gliders to keep them barren - Reproduction had to come to a natural halt. Offsprings would have destroyed the balance.
A small number of (possibly) immotal elves who live at full risk - loss of lives is frequent and high. There are lots of replacements needed and Recognition is switching mode again - back to "take every chance you can get". That's why I think that Go-Backs are still able to Recognize - but their lifestyle made it unimportant.
The conditions are similar to the Wolfriders - and there are Recognitions on a regular basis. I'm not quite sure - do they have children out of Recognition as well?
For me Recognition, infertility and reproduction by chance are part of the same system. And it does not depend on age (except for the Wolfriders maybe) but on necessity and fitting matches.