Section 38
Chapter 37,391

Allometry for sexual size dimorphism: testing two hypotheses for Rensch's rule in the water strider Aquarius remigis

Fairbairn, D.J.

American Naturalist 166(Suppl): S69-S84


ISSN/ISBN: 0003-0147
PMID: 16224713
DOI: 10.1086/444600
Accession: 037390915

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Within any given clade, male size and female size typically covary, but male size often varies more than female size. This generates a pattern of allometry for sexual size dimorphism (SSD) known as Rensch's rule. I use allometry for SSD among populations of the water strider Aquarius remigis (Hemiptera, Gerridae) to test the hypothesis that Rensch's rule evolves in response to sexual selection on male secondary sexual traits and all alternative hypothesis that it is caused by greater phenotypic plasticity of body size in males. Comparisons of three populations reared under two temperature regimes are combined with an analysis of allometry for genital and somatic components of body size among 25 field populations. Contrary to the sexual-selection hypothesis, genital length, the target of sexual selection, shows the lowest allometric slope of all the assayed traits. Instead, the results support a novel interpretation of the differential-plasticity hypothesis: that the traits most closely associated with reproductive fitness (abdomen length in females and genital length in males) are "adaptively canalized." While this hypothesis is unlikely to explain Rensch's rule among species or higher clades, it may explain widespread patterns of intraspecific variation in SSD recently documented for many insect species.

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