Sexual Size Dimorphism in the Plethodontidae

  • Richard C. Bruce


Sexual size dimorphism (or SSD for short) is common in vertebrate animals. It reflects the adaptation of males and females to different reproductive or ecological roles. SSD is male-biased when males are larger than females (as is often the case in birds and mammals), and female-biased when females are larger than males (as in many ectothermic vertebrates and invertebrates). SSD is usually considered a consequence of selection on reproductive traits that reflects the different reproductive roles of males and females, including sexual selection in the traditional sense (reviewed in Andersson, 1994, ch. 11;Fairbairn, 1997). Alternatively, SSD is sometimes viewed as intersexual niche divergence that reduces competition between the sexes for food or other resources (Selander, 1972;Shine, 1989;Slatkin, 1984). Sexual size dimorphism may be correlated with population density, in relationship to either the intensity of male-male competition for breeding territories or resource availability (Ghiselin, 1974;Stamps, 1983;Stamps et al., 1997). Very often SSD varies allometrically with body size among species within a clade (Abouheif and Fairbairn, 1997;Fairbairn, 1997).


Body Size Sexual Selection Sexual Dimorphism Clutch Size Parental Care 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard C. Bruce
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyWestern Carolina UniversityCullowheeUSA

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