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Phylogenetic analyses of sexual selection and sexual size dimorphism in pinnipeds

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Pinnipedia contains some of the most spectacular examples of sexual size dimorphism, examples that are therefore frequently used to illustrate the theory of sexual selection. This paper addresses the question of whether a significant relationship between sexual selection and size dimorphism exists in a comparative context. Thus, harem size and body size data gathered from the literature were analysed with independent contrasts analyses. These investigations showed that sexual size dimorphism is not a consequence of an allometric relationship between male and female size. Instead, there is a clear relationship between harem size and sexual size dimorphism. Further analyses also revealed a significant relationship between harem size and male size whereas no such relationship existed for females. These results support the hypothesis that sexual size dimorphism in pinnipeds is the product of an exclusively male response to sexual selection.

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Lindenfors, P., Tullberg, B.S. & Biuw, M. Phylogenetic analyses of sexual selection and sexual size dimorphism in pinnipeds. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 52, 188–193 (2002).

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