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Ecological drivers of body size evolution and sexual size dimorphism in short-horned grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Acrididae)

AuthorsGarcía-Navas, Vicente CSIC ORCID; Noguerales, Víctor CSIC ORCID; Cordero, Pedro J. CSIC ORCID; Ortego, Joaquín CSIC ORCID
KeywordsBergmann’s rule
Rensch’s rule
Iberian Peninsula
Issue Date2017
PublisherBlackwell Publishing
CitationJournal of Evolutionary Biology 30(8): 1592-1608 (2017)
AbstractSexual size dimorphism (SSD) is widespread and variable in nature. Although female-biased SSD predominates among insects, the proximate ecological and evolutionary factors promoting this phenomenon remain largely unstudied. Here, we employ modern phylogenetic comparative methods on eight subfamilies of Iberian grasshoppers (85 species) to examine the validity of different models of evolution of body size and SSD and explore how they are shaped by a suite of ecological variables (habitat specialization, substrate use, altitude) and/or constrained by different evolutionary pressures (female fecundity, strength of sexual selection, length of the breeding season). Body size disparity primarily accumulated late in the history of the group and did not follow a Brownian motion pattern, indicating the existence of directional evolution for this trait. We found support for the converse of Rensch's rule (i.e. females are proportionally bigger than males in large species) across all taxa but not within the two most speciose subfamilies (Gomphocerinae and Oedipodinae), which showed an isometric pattern. Our results do not provide support for the fecundity or sexual selection hypotheses, and we did not find evidence for significant effects of habitat use. Contrary to that expected, we found that species with narrower reproductive window are less dimorphic in size than those that exhibit a longer breeding cycle, suggesting that male protandry cannot solely account for the evolution of female-biased SSD in Orthoptera. Our study highlights the need to consider alternatives to the classical evolutionary hypotheses when trying to explain why in certain insect groups males remain small.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1111/jeb.13131
Identifiersdoi: 10.1111/jeb.13131
issn: 1420-9101
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