, Volume 108, Issue 4, pp 610–616 | Cite as

Environmental influences on the sexual dimorphism in body size of western bobcats

  • F. Stephen DobsonEmail author
  • John D. Wigginton


Sexual size dimorphism might be influenced by environmental constraints on sexual selection or by intraspecific competition between males and females. We studied bobcats (Lynx rufus) in collections of museum specimens from western North America to examine these hypotheses. Structural body size was estimated from several measurements of the skull, ln-transformed and indexed through principal components analysis. Sexual dimorphism in body size was estimated from the difference in size index of males and females, and compared to geographic and climatic variables associated with biotic provinces (ecoregions). Of several climatic variables that were associated with bobcat body size, only seasonality of climate was associated with sexual dimorphism. Sexual size dimorphism, longitude, elevation, and seasonality were intercorrelated. As longitude decreased (moving inland from west-coastal ecoregions), sexual dimorphism decreased with the increased elevation and seasonality of continental climates of the Rocky Mountains. We suggest that increased seasonality and the need for fasting endurance by females may place constraints on the degree of sexual dimorphism in bobcats. Sexual dimorphism of body size and sexual size dimorphism of trophic structures (teeth) exhibited a strong positive association over geography, thus indirectly supporting the hypothesis that intrasexual competition for prey could account for the geographic variation in sexual size dimorphism. Thus, both environmental constraints on sexual selection of body size and intersexual competition were supported as possible explanations of the degree of sexual size dimorphism that occurs in populations of bobcats.

Key words

Body size Climate Geography Lynx Sexual dimorphism 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Zoology & Wildlife ScienceAuburn UniversityAuburnUSA

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