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The evolution of male-biased sexual size dimorphism is associated with increased body size plasticity in males


Rohner, Patrick T; Teder, Tiit; Esperk, Toomas; Lüpold, Stefan; Blanckenhorn, Wolf U (2018). The evolution of male-biased sexual size dimorphism is associated with increased body size plasticity in males. Functional Ecology, 32(2):581-591.

Abstract

1. Sexual size dimorphism (SSD) can vary drastically across environments, demonstrating pronounced sex-specific plasticity. In insects, females are usually the larger and more plastic sex. However, the shortage of taxa with male-biased SSD hampers the assessment of whether the greater plasticity in females is driven by selection on size or represents an effect of the female reproductive role. Here, we specifically address the role of sex-specific plasticity of body size in the evolution of SSD reversals to disentangle sex and size effects.
2. We first investigate sex-specific body size plasticity in Sepsis punctum and Sepsis neocynipsea as two independent cases of intraspecific SSD reversals in sepsid flies. In both species, directional variation in SSD between populations is driven by stronger sexual selection on male size. Using controlled laboratory breeding, we find evidence for sex-specific plasticity and increased condition dependence of male size in populations with male-biased SSD, but not of female size in populations with female-biased SSD.
3. To extend the comparative scope, we next estimate sex-specific body size plasticity in eight additional fly species that differ in the direction of SSD under laboratory conditions. In all species with male-biased SSD we find males to be the more plastic sex, while this was only rarely the case in species with female-biased SSD, thus suggesting a more general trend in Diptera.
4. To examine the generality of this pattern in holometabolous insects, we combine our data with data from the literature in a meta-analysis. Again, male body size tends to be more plastic than female size when males are the larger sex, though female size is now also generally more plastic when females are larger.
5. Our findings indicate that primarily selection on size, rather than the reproductive role per se, drives the evolution of sex-specific body size plasticity. However, sepsid flies, and possibly Diptera in general, show a clear sexual asymmetry with greater male than female plasticity related to SSD, likely driven by strong sexual selection on males. Although further research controlling for phylogenetic and ecological confounding effects is needed, our findings are congruent with theory in suggesting that condition dependence plays a pivotal role in the evolution of sexual size dimorphism.

Abstract

1. Sexual size dimorphism (SSD) can vary drastically across environments, demonstrating pronounced sex-specific plasticity. In insects, females are usually the larger and more plastic sex. However, the shortage of taxa with male-biased SSD hampers the assessment of whether the greater plasticity in females is driven by selection on size or represents an effect of the female reproductive role. Here, we specifically address the role of sex-specific plasticity of body size in the evolution of SSD reversals to disentangle sex and size effects.
2. We first investigate sex-specific body size plasticity in Sepsis punctum and Sepsis neocynipsea as two independent cases of intraspecific SSD reversals in sepsid flies. In both species, directional variation in SSD between populations is driven by stronger sexual selection on male size. Using controlled laboratory breeding, we find evidence for sex-specific plasticity and increased condition dependence of male size in populations with male-biased SSD, but not of female size in populations with female-biased SSD.
3. To extend the comparative scope, we next estimate sex-specific body size plasticity in eight additional fly species that differ in the direction of SSD under laboratory conditions. In all species with male-biased SSD we find males to be the more plastic sex, while this was only rarely the case in species with female-biased SSD, thus suggesting a more general trend in Diptera.
4. To examine the generality of this pattern in holometabolous insects, we combine our data with data from the literature in a meta-analysis. Again, male body size tends to be more plastic than female size when males are the larger sex, though female size is now also generally more plastic when females are larger.
5. Our findings indicate that primarily selection on size, rather than the reproductive role per se, drives the evolution of sex-specific body size plasticity. However, sepsid flies, and possibly Diptera in general, show a clear sexual asymmetry with greater male than female plasticity related to SSD, likely driven by strong sexual selection on males. Although further research controlling for phylogenetic and ecological confounding effects is needed, our findings are congruent with theory in suggesting that condition dependence plays a pivotal role in the evolution of sexual size dimorphism.

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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)
Language:English
Date:7 February 2018
Deposited On:02 Mar 2018 19:38
Last Modified:18 Apr 2018 11:49
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0269-8463
Funders:Forschungskredit of the University of Zurich (FK-15- 090), Swiss National Science Foundation (PZ00P3_154767), Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (IUT20-33)
Additional Information:This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Functional Ecology, Volume 32, Issue 2, February 2018, Pages 581–591 , which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.13004. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving (http://olabout.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-820227.html#terms).
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.13004
Project Information:
  • : Funder
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project TitleForschungskredit of the University of Zurich (FK-15- 090)
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project TitleSwiss National Science Foundation (PZ00P3_154767)
  • : Funder
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project TitleEstonian Ministry of Education and Research (IUT20-33)

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