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Keywords:

  • ecology;
  • evolution;
  • functional morphology;
  • grouse;
  • independent contrasts;
  • mating systems;
  • Rensch's rule;
  • sexual size dimorphism

Abstract

We use standardized independent contrasts (SICs) to elucidate the effect of ecology and mating systems on morphological radiation in grouse. The analysis of SICs for 38 skeletal measurements from 20 taxa, showed that changes in mating system had a significant effect on body size of both sexes. Sexual size dimorphism in grouse is consistent with Rensch's rule; the slope of the regression of male vs. female size SICs was 1.4, significantly >1. Changes in habitat were associated with accelerated rates of evolution of body proportions. SICs for male and female scores of size independent factors were directly proportional to each other (slope = 1), indicating extreme similarities between male and female ecology. Females, however, were better adapted to longer, more energy efficient flight than males. Size independent morphological differences among grouse are adaptive and are related to the differences in habitat and foraging behaviour among the species.