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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 mammals

Sexual size dimorphism in mammals

(p.16) Chapter 2 Sexual size dimorphism in mammals
Sex, Size and Gender Roles

Patrik Lindenfors

John L. Gittleman

Kate E. Jones

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the pattern of sexual size dimorphism (SSD) in mammals and the processes that underlie its evolution. Most mammalian orders have male-biased SSD, although some orders are not sexually-dimorphic for body size or show significantly female-biased SSD. In general, SSD increases with body size across mammals (Rensch's rule). Male-biased dimorphism relates to sexual selection on males through male-male competition for females, since sexual selection as indicated by mating systems is positively correlated with male-biased SSD. Selection pressure on female mass, identified in that age at weaning, is higher in polygynous species. However, the reproductive rate is lower for large females, indicating that fecundity selection selects small females. Although these patterns hold across mammals as a whole, the data presented in the chapter also reveal considerable variation across orders.

Keywords:   body size, fecundity selection, Rensch's rule, sexual selection

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