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Keywords:

  • biometry;
  • fitness;
  • sexual selection;
  • reversed size dimorphism;
  • wing measurements

Abstract

Although sexual size dimorphism (SSD) is common among mammals, there is no clear explanation for its maintenance in nature. Bats are one of the few groups of mammals where reverse SSD appears. In this group, the size of individuals may have very important ecological consequences related with flight. In this study, we examine sexual dimorphism in the wing measurements of 195 adult individuals (141 males and 54 females) of the greater mouse-eared bat Myotis myotis in the south-east of the Iberian Peninsula. We also investigated size differences between paired and single males in a swarming roost. The results indicate that there are significant differences in the wing measurements between sexes, females being bigger than males in this respect. While no significant differences in the wing measurements of paired and single males were observed, significant differences were found in their relative weight and fitness, single males being significantly heavier and having a better physical condition. We discuss the implications of SSD for the female of M. myotis in terms of reproductive advantages, trophic niche segregation and a greater ability to move, which may favour gene flow between populations.