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Costs of sexual selection in natural populations of mammals



Costs of sexual selection in natural populations of mammals



Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B Biological Sciences 247(1320): 203-210



Models of sexual selection typically assume a cost to the production and maintenance of sexually selected traits. However, within a population, individuals of high phenotypic quality may not only show greater expression of the trait but may also have higher survival rates. In such a case, the true cost of the trait may be difficult to detect. Comparative studies can circumvent some of the difficulties inherent in intraspecific studies. In this study, I used a comparative approach to examine the relation between sexual size dimorphism and adult mortality in natural populations of mammals. After controlling for the effects of phylogeny, I found that the degree of male-bias in adult mortality was positively ocrrelated with the degree of sexual size dimorphism across taxa. This is the first comparative evidence for a cost of sexually selected traits in natural populations mammals. In contrast to the general rule that mortality in mammals is male-biased, I also found that it is frequently female-biased in monogamous taxa of mammals. I suggest that in monogamous species the cost of reproduction to females will be similar to that of polygynous species. However, males of monogamous species will be spared the costs male-male competition and dimorphic growth. This decrease in male costs relative to females may then lead to a female-bias in mortality.

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Accession: 007165675

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DOI: 10.1098/rspb.1992.0030


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