Sexual size dimorphism in anurans

Monnet J.-M. ; Cherry M.I. (2002)


Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the direction and extent of sexual size dimorphism in anurans (in which males are usually smaller than females) as a result of sexual selection. Here, we present an analysis to test the hypothesis that sexual dimorphism in anurans is largely a function of differences between the sexes in life-history strategies. Morphological and demographic data for anurans were collected from the literature, and the mean size and age in each sex were calculated for 51 populations, across 30 species and eight genera. Comparisons across 14 Rana species, eight Bufo species and across the genera showed a highly significant relationship between size dimorphism, measured using the female-male size ratio, and mean female-male age difference. A comparison of a subset of 17 of these species for which phylogenetic information was available, using the method of independent contrasts, yielded a similar result. These results indicate that most of the variation in size dimorphism in the anura can be explained in terms of differences in the age structure between the sexes in breeding populations. If sexual selection has an effect on size dimorphism in anurans, it is likely to be only a secondary one.

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