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Sex, Size and Gender RolesEvolutionary Studies of Sexual Size Dimorphism$
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Daphne J. Fairbairn, Wolf U. Blanckenhorn, and Tamás Székely

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199208784

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199208784.001.0001

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The evolution of sexual size dimorphism in reptiles

The evolution of sexual size dimorphism in reptiles

(p.38) Chapter 4 The evolution of sexual size dimorphism in reptiles
Sex, Size and Gender Roles

Robert M. Cox

Marguerite A. Butler

Henry B. John-Alder

Oxford University Press

Most studies interpret reptilian sexual size dimorphism (SSD) as a means to reducing resource competition by way of sexual selection, fecundity selection, and natural selection. This chapter assesses the importance of these processes using data on 832 species of snakes, lizards, and turtles. The data reveal allometry consistent with Rensch's rule in most, but not all reptilian taxa, and support the hypothesis that sexual selection for large male size has influenced the evolution of reptile SSD. However, more data on male combat and territoriality are needed to test more fully this hypothesis. Although fecundity increases with female body size in many reptiles, comparative data provide only weak support for the fecundity advantage of large female size. The chapter concludes that further progress in assessing the relative importance of different selective processes in reptiles will require studies that more fully integrate evolutionary hypotheses with knowledge of proximate physiological and developmental mechanisms.

Keywords:   allometry, body size, fecundity, lizards, Rensch's rule, sexual selection, snakes, turtles

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