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Sexual size dimorphism is associated with reproductive life history trait differentiation in coexisting sepsid flies


Blanckenhorn, Wolf U; Baur, Julian; Busso, Juan Pablo; Giesen, Athene; Gourgoulianni, Natalia; van Koppenhagen, Nicola; Roy, Jeannine; Schäfer, Martin A; Wegmann, Alexandra; Rohner, Patrick T (2020). Sexual size dimorphism is associated with reproductive life history trait differentiation in coexisting sepsid flies. Oikos, 129(8):1152-1162.

Abstract

Organismal life histories evolve as syndromes, resulting in correlated evolutionary differentiation of key traits that ultimately aid in discerning species. Reproductive success depends both on the absolute body size of an individual and its size relative to the opposite sex: sexual size dimorphism. In an attempt to further elucidate their coexistence and ecological diversification, we compared standard life history (first reproduction, clutch size, egg size) and associated reproductive trait differentiation of 15 widespread European sepsid fly species (Diptera: Sepsidae) under laboratory common garden conditions. Despite relatively uniform body sizes, sexual dimorphism ranged from female‐ to male‐biased, and development time varied twofold across species. We expected, and found, the abundant and relatively large species (Sepsis cynipsea, punctum, thoracica) with often male‐biased SSD to lay larger but fewer eggs and show fast‐developing, fast‐reproducing life histories with aggressive (coercive) mating behavior characterized by short mating latencies and male conflict. In contrast, the smaller and more dispersed species with female‐biased SSD (S. flavimana, orthocnemis, violacea) laid smaller but more eggs, showing a generally slower life history with long and delayed copulation and oviposition, high mating reluctance fostering extensive inter‐sexual conflict, and more elaborate male (pre‐)copulatory courtship. Two Saltella species were exceptional, being large, developing slowly, nevertheless copulating soon after adult emergence, profusely and briefly. The documented life history differentiation seems partly driven by sexual selection leading to male‐biased dimorphism, rather than undetermined ecological selection, but regardless appears insufficient to explain the coexistence and diversification of these sepsid species in European pastoral landscapes.

Abstract

Organismal life histories evolve as syndromes, resulting in correlated evolutionary differentiation of key traits that ultimately aid in discerning species. Reproductive success depends both on the absolute body size of an individual and its size relative to the opposite sex: sexual size dimorphism. In an attempt to further elucidate their coexistence and ecological diversification, we compared standard life history (first reproduction, clutch size, egg size) and associated reproductive trait differentiation of 15 widespread European sepsid fly species (Diptera: Sepsidae) under laboratory common garden conditions. Despite relatively uniform body sizes, sexual dimorphism ranged from female‐ to male‐biased, and development time varied twofold across species. We expected, and found, the abundant and relatively large species (Sepsis cynipsea, punctum, thoracica) with often male‐biased SSD to lay larger but fewer eggs and show fast‐developing, fast‐reproducing life histories with aggressive (coercive) mating behavior characterized by short mating latencies and male conflict. In contrast, the smaller and more dispersed species with female‐biased SSD (S. flavimana, orthocnemis, violacea) laid smaller but more eggs, showing a generally slower life history with long and delayed copulation and oviposition, high mating reluctance fostering extensive inter‐sexual conflict, and more elaborate male (pre‐)copulatory courtship. Two Saltella species were exceptional, being large, developing slowly, nevertheless copulating soon after adult emergence, profusely and briefly. The documented life history differentiation seems partly driven by sexual selection leading to male‐biased dimorphism, rather than undetermined ecological selection, but regardless appears insufficient to explain the coexistence and diversification of these sepsid species in European pastoral landscapes.

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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)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:1 August 2020
Deposited On:21 Sep 2020 10:12
Last Modified:22 Sep 2020 20:00
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0030-1299
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/oik.07036

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