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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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Sexual size dimorphism in spiders: patterns and processes

Sexual size dimorphism in spiders: patterns and processes

(p.71) Chapter 7 Sexual size dimorphism in spiders: patterns and processes
Sex, Size and Gender Roles

Matthias W. Foellmer

Jordi Moya-Laraño

Oxford University Press

This chapter uses data for 489 spider species from fifteen families to describe patterns of variation in sexual size dimorphism (SSD), and to evaluate hypotheses explaining these patterns. The direction and magnitude of SSD is found to depend strongly on the size measure chosen, and the use of carapace width is recommended because it is less affected by condition than body mass or length. Comparative analyses reveal that spiders do not exhibit allometry consistent with Rensch's rule. Instead, females appear to have diverged more than males over evolutionary time, and male and female body size show uncorrelated co-evolution, which is unusual for animals. Only two adaptive hypotheses — fecundity selection favouring large size in females and gravity selection favouring small size in males — have general explanatory power for patterns of SSD in spiders. However, processes may differ among species and comprehensive studies of selection within given species are needed.

Keywords:   allometry, fecundity selection, gravity hypothesis, Rensch's rule, sexual size dimorphism

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