Among-population variation and correlations in sexually dimorphic traits of Silene latifolia


Lynda F. Delph, Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA. Tel.: 812-855-1831; fax: 812-8556705; e-mail:


Abstract The degree of sexual dimorphism in a trait may be determined directly by disruptive selection, as well as by correlations with other traits under selection. We grew seeds from nine populations of the dioecious plant Silene latifolia in a common-garden experiment to determine whether phenotypic variation and correlations existed for floral, leaf and resource allocation traits, and whether this variation had a genetic component. We also determined the traits which were sexually dimorphic, the degree of dimorphism, and whether it varied among populations. Seven traits exhibited among-population variation and sexual dimorphism. Variation in the degree of dimorphism occurred only for two traits, suggesting that dimorphism may be evolving more slowly than trait means. Males had more, smaller flowers, shorter leaves, and allocated less of their total biomass to stems and more to leaves than females. Flower production was the most sexually dimorphic trait and was correlated with all measured traits. Most traits exhibited significant correlations between the sexes. The pattern of correlations and the degree of sexual dimorphism among traits lead us to suggest that intrasexual selection for an exaggerated floral display in males has indirectly led to sexual dimorphism in a host of other traits.