International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 1095-1135

First online:

Scaling of Sexual Dimorphism in Body Mass: A Phylogenetic Analysis of Rensch's Rule in Primates

  • Richard J. SmithAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Washington University
  • , James M. CheverudAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Washington UniversityDepartment of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University

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We examined the relationship between body mass dimorphism, measured as the natural logarithm of the male/female ratio, and body mass, defined as ln (female mass), with interspecific allometry, phylogenetically independent contrasts, and phylogenetic autocorrelation in 105 primate species. We repeated the analyses for Strepsirhini (N = 23), Haplorhini (N = 82), Platyrrhinii (N = 32), and Catarrhini (N = 47). With independent contrasts, there is statistically significant (p < .05) positive allometry in Primates in general, Haplorhini, and Catarrhini, but not in Strepsirhini or Platyrrhini. The steepest slope (0.134) is for Catarrhini. Results differed when we conducted analyses with traditional interspecific allometry. For example, not only was the Catarrhini slope not statistically significant but also the magnitude of the slope was shallower than that of all other groups, except Strepsirhini. The results indicate that phylogenetic effects influence the scaling of sexual size dimorphism, and that the statistical method used has a large impact on the interpretation of this biological relationship. We discuss issues involved in applying these statistical methods in detail.

sexual size dimorphism Primates Rensch's Rule comparative methods allometry phylogenetically independent contrasts phylogenetic autocorrelation