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Keywords:

  • comparative analyses;
  • generalist;
  • niche width;
  • phylogeny;
  • specialist

Abstract

Natural and sexual selection shape the evolution of species but the interplay between them is poorly understood. Two phylogenetic studies on birds have suggested that species with greater sexual dichromatism have a broader habitat use. We show that in agamid lizards, species with more elaborate secondary sexual traits are also ecologically more opportunistic. Species with greater dimorphism in head size and ornamentation have greater altitudinal range and broader habitat use, respectively, and species with greater sexual dichromatism have wider microhabitat use. Body size was positively associated with sexual and ecological generalism, but associations between ecological and sexual traits remained after accounting for body size. We suggest that sexual and natural selection may be linked either because sexual selection can promote generalism at the population level by favouring ‘good genes’, or because higher population densities may be associated with both stronger sexual selection and broader resource use.