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Keywords:

  • agamid;
  • body size;
  • fecundity selection;
  • sex-specific differences;
  • sexual selection

Sexual dimorphism has implications for a range of biological and ecological factors, and intersexual morphological differences within a species provide an ideal opportunity for investigating evolutionary influences on phenotypic variation. We investigated sexual size dimorphism (SSD) in an agamid species, Rankinia [Tympanocryptis] diemensis, to determine whether overall size and/or relative morphological trait size differences exist and whether geographic variation in size dimorphism occurs in this species. Relative morphological trait proportions included a range of head, limb, and inter-limb measurements. We found significant overall intersexual adult size differences; females were the larger sex across all sites but the degree of dimorphism between the sexes did not differ between sites. This female-biased size difference is atypical for agamid lizards, which are usually characterized by large male body size. In this species, large female-biased SSD appears to have evolved as a result of fecundity advantages. The size of relative morphological trait also differed significantly between the sexes, but in the opposite direction: relative head, tail, and limb sizes were significantly larger in males than females. This corresponds to patterns in trait size usually found in this taxonomic group, where male head and limb size is important in contest success such as male–male rivalry. There were site-specific morphological differences in hatchlings, including overall body size, tail, inter-limb, thigh, and hindlimb lengths; however, there were no sex-specific differences indicating the body size differences present in the adult form occur during ontogeny. © 2008 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 94, 699–709.