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Proximate Causes of Rensch’s Rule: Does Sexual Size Dimorphism in Arthropods Result from Sex Differences in Development Time?


Blanckenhorn, Wolf U; Dixon, A F G; Fairbairn, D J; Foellmer, M W; Gibert, P; van der Linde, K; Meier, R; Nylin, S; Pitnick, S; Schoff, C; Signorelli, M; Teder, T; Wiklund, C (2007). Proximate Causes of Rensch’s Rule: Does Sexual Size Dimorphism in Arthropods Result from Sex Differences in Development Time? American Naturalist, 169(2):245-257.

Abstract

A prominent interspecific pattern of sexual size dimorphism (SSD) is Rensch’s rule, according to which male body size is more variable or evolutionarily divergent than female body size. Assuming equal growth rates of males and females, SSD would be entirely mediated, and Rensch’s rule proximately caused, by sexual differences in development times, or sexual bimaturism (SBM), with the larger sex developing for a proportionately longer time. Only a subset of the seven arthropod groups investigated in this study exhibits Rensch’s rule. Furthermore, we found only a weak positive relationship between SSD and SBM overall, suggesting that growth rate differences between the sexes are more important than development time differences in proximately mediating SSD in a wide but by no means comprehensive range of arthropod taxa. Except when protandry is of selective advantage (as in many butterflies, Hymenoptera, and spiders), male development time was equal to (in water striders and beetles) or even longer than (in drosophilid and sepsid flies) that of females. Because all taxa show female-biased SSD, this implies faster growth of females in general, a pattern markedly different from that of primates and birds (analyzed here for comparison). We discuss three potential explanations for this pattern based on life-history trade-offs and sexual selection.

A prominent interspecific pattern of sexual size dimorphism (SSD) is Rensch’s rule, according to which male body size is more variable or evolutionarily divergent than female body size. Assuming equal growth rates of males and females, SSD would be entirely mediated, and Rensch’s rule proximately caused, by sexual differences in development times, or sexual bimaturism (SBM), with the larger sex developing for a proportionately longer time. Only a subset of the seven arthropod groups investigated in this study exhibits Rensch’s rule. Furthermore, we found only a weak positive relationship between SSD and SBM overall, suggesting that growth rate differences between the sexes are more important than development time differences in proximately mediating SSD in a wide but by no means comprehensive range of arthropod taxa. Except when protandry is of selective advantage (as in many butterflies, Hymenoptera, and spiders), male development time was equal to (in water striders and beetles) or even longer than (in drosophilid and sepsid flies) that of females. Because all taxa show female-biased SSD, this implies faster growth of females in general, a pattern markedly different from that of primates and birds (analyzed here for comparison). We discuss three potential explanations for this pattern based on life-history trade-offs and sexual selection.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Date:2007
Deposited On:18 May 2009 05:56
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:13
Publisher:University of Chicago Press
ISSN:0003-0147
Publisher DOI:0003-0147/2007/16902-41714
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-18558

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