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The influence of sexual dimorphism in body size and mouth morphology on diet selection and sexual segregation in cervids

The influence of sexual dimorphism in body size and mouth morphology on diet selection and sexual segregation in cervids

Acta Veterinaria Hungarica 46(3): 357-367

ISSN/ISBN: 0236-6290

PMID: 9704534

In mammals patterns of food resource distribution influence female distribution, leading to aggregation and favouring the evolution of a polygynous mating system. Under polygyny, sexual selection favours an increase of the male body size, since larger bodied males have competitive advantage in fights for mates. As a result, sexual body size dimorphism is a general rule in polygynous artiodactyls and is correlated with the degree of polygyny. Sex differences in body size lead to differences in energy requirements and food selection between the sexes. This has led to the sexual size dimorphism hypothesis being used to explain sexual segregation in ungulates, although from the available studies, it is not possible to deduce a consistent pattern between sexes in the use of forage of different abundance or quality. Two other groups of hypotheses have been put forward to explain sexual segregation in ungulates. These are based on reproductive strategy and social factors, both of which are independent of body size. The mechanistic explanation for differences in food selection ability and intake rate between animals of different body size and how this can lead to an understanding of the sex differences in diet and sexual segregation, both of which are intimately linked, is discussed.

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Accession: 003308312

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