Sexual size dimorphism within species increases with body size in insects

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2005
Authors:Teder, T, Tammaru, T

Studies examining interspecific differences in sexual size dimorphism (SSD) typically assume that the degree of sexual differences in body size is invariable within species. This work was conducted to assess validity of this assumption. As a result of a systematic literature survey, datasets for 158 insect species were retrieved. Each dataset contained adult or pupal weights of males and females for two or more different subsets, typically originating from different conditions during immature development. For each species, an analysis was conducted to examine dependence of SSD on body size, the latter variable being used as a proxy of environmental quality. A considerable variation in SSD was revealed at the intraspecific level in insects. The results suggest that environmental conditions may strongly affect the degree, though not the direction of SSD within species. In most species, female size appeared to be more sensitive to environmental conditions than male size: with conditions improving, there was a larger relative increase in female than male size. As a consequence, sexual differences in size were shown to increase with increasing body size in species with female-biased SSD (females were the larger sex in more than 80% of the species examined). The results were consistent across different insect orders and ecological subdivisions. Mechanisms leading to intraspecific variation in SSD are discussed. This study underlines the need to consider intraspecific variation in SSD in comparative studies.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith