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Keywords:

  • environmental change;
  • experimental evolution;
  • genetic correlations;
  • genetic variance;
  • insects;
  • sex-specific environmental sensitivity;
  • sex-specific plasticity;
  • split-brood experiment

Abstract

Temperature changes in the environment, which realistically include environmental fluctuations, can create both plastic and evolutionary responses of traits. Sexes might differ in either or both of these responses for homologous traits, which in turn has consequences for sexual dimorphism and its evolution. Here, we investigate both immediate changes in and the evolution of sexual dimorphism in response to a changing environment (with and without fluctuations) using the seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus. We investigate sex differences in plasticity and also the genetic architecture of body mass and developmental time dimorphism to test two existing hypotheses on sex differences in plasticity (adaptive canalization hypothesis and condition dependence hypothesis). We found a decreased sexual size dimorphism in higher temperature and that females responded more plastically than males, supporting the condition dependence hypothesis. However, selection in a fluctuating environment altered sex-specific patterns of genetic and environmental variation, indicating support for the adaptive canalization hypothesis. Genetic correlations between sexes (rMF) were affected by fluctuating selection, suggesting facilitated independent evolution of the sexes. Thus, the selective past of a population is highly important for the understanding of the evolutionary dynamics of sexual dimorphism.