University Of Tasmania
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Mechanisms causing variation in sexual size dimorphism in three sympatric, congeneric lizards

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 06:45 authored by Manicom, C, Alford, R, Schoener, TW, Schwarzkopf, L
Sexual differences in adult body size (sexual size dimorphism, or SSD) ultimately can be favored by selection because larger males are more likely to be successful competitors for females, because larger females bear larger clutches, or because intersexual size differences reduce resource competition. Natural selection during juvenile development can influence sexual dimorphism of adults, and selection on adults and juveniles may differ. Studies that address the relative contributions of adult body shape dimorphism and sexually dimorphic patterns of growth and maturity are particularly useful in understanding the evolution of size dimorphism, yet they are rare. We investigated three sympatric, congeneric lizard species with different degrees and directions of adult sexual dimorphism and compared their growth patterns, survival probabilities, and intersexual trophic niche differences. Different mechanisms, even within these closely related, sympatric species, acted on juvenile lizards to produce species differences in adult SSD. Both degree and direction of dimorphism resulted from differences between the sexes in either the duration of growth or the rate of growth, but not from differences in rates of survival or selection on juvenile growth rate. Species- and sex-specific trade-offs in the allocation of energy to growth and reproduction, as well as differential timing of maturation, thus caused the growth patterns of the sexes to diverge, producing SSD. The differences that we observed in the direction of SSD among these species is consistent with their different social systems, suggesting that differential selection on adult body size has been responsible for the observed species-specific differences in juvenile growth rates and maturational timing.


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School of Natural Sciences


Ecological Soc Amer

Place of publication

Washington, USA

Rights statement

Copyright 2014 by the Ecological Society of America

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences