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Sexual dimorphism in traits related to locomotion: ontogenetic patterns of variation in Podarcis wall lizards

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Sexual dimorphism in body size and shape in animals is normally linked to sexual selection mechanisms that modify the morphological properties of each sex. However, sexual dimorphism of ecologically relevant traits may be amplified by natural selection and result in the ecological segregation of both sexes. In the present study, we investigated patterns of sexual dimorphism of morphological traits relevant for locomotion in two lacertid lizards, Podarcis bocagei and Podarcis carbonelli, aiming to identify ontogenetic sources of variation. We analysed trunk and limb variation in relation to total body size, as well as the covariation of different traits, aiming to shed light on the proximate causation of adult sexual dimorphism. We find that, although immatures are generally monomorphic, adult females have a longer trunk, and adult males have longer fore and hind limbs. Both sexes differ substantially with respect to their growth trajectories and relationships between traits, whereas, in some cases, there are signs of morphological constraints delimiting the observed patterns. Because of the direct connection between limb size/shape and locomotor performance, which is relevant both for habitat use and escape from predators, the observed patterns of sexual dimorphism are expected to translate into ecological differences between both sexes. © 2010 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2010, 99, 530–543.

Keywords: Iberian Peninsula; Lacertidae; ecological dimorphism; integration

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: CIBIO, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Campus Agrário de Vairão, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal 2: Departament de Biologia Animal (Vertebrats), Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Avgda Diagonal, 645, 08028 Barcelona, Spain

Publication date: 2010-03-01

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