Sexual selection and the evolution of sexual size dimorphism in the water strider, Aquarius remigis
Fairbairn, D.J.; Preziosi, R.F.
Evolution 50(4): 1549-1559
ISSN/ISBN: 0014-3820 DOI: 10.2307/2410891
Sexual size dimorphism (SSD) is often attributed to sexual selection, particularly when males are the larger sex. However, sexual selection favoring large males is common even in taxa where females are the larger sex, and is therefore not a sufficient explanation of patterns of SSD. As part of a more extensive study of the evolution of SSD in water striders (Heteroptera, Gerridae), we examine patterns of sexual selection and SSD in 12 populations of Aquarius remigis. We calculate univariate and multivariate selection gradients from samples of mating and single males, for two sexually dimorphic traits (total length and profemoral width) and two sexually monomorphic traits (mesofemoral length and wing form). The multivariate analyses reveal strong selection favoring larger males, in spite of the female-biased SSD for this trait, and weaker selection favoring artery and reduced mesofemoral length. Selection is weakest on the most dimorphic trait, profemoral width, and is stabilizing rather than directional. The pattern of sexual selection on morphological traits is therefore not concordant with the pattern of SSD. The univariate selection gradients reveal little net selection (direct + indirect) on any of the traits, and suggest that evolution away from the plesiomorphic pattern of SSD is constrained by antagonistic patterns of selection acting on this suite of positively correlated morphological traits. We hypothesize that SSD in A. remigis is not in equilibrium, a hypothesis that is consistent with both theoretical models of the evolution of SSD and our previous studies of allometry for SSD. A negative interpopulation correlation between the intensity of sexual selection and the operational sex ratio supports the hypothesis that, as in several other water strider species, sexual selection in A. remigis occurs through generalized female reluctance rather than active female choice. The implications of this for patterns of sexual selection are discussed.