Sexual dimorphism in wing and tail length as shown by the Swallow Hirundo rustica

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Abstract

In both sexes of Hirundo rustica two metric traits are significantly different. One of these traits, tail length, shows a positive correlation between mates and a negative correlation with the date of first egg laying. On the other hand, wing lengths are not significantly related in any of the corresponding tests. Similar relations were recorded both for all analysed birds and for at least two-year-old individuals. It is suggested that sexual selection, as proposed by Darwin (1871) for monogamous birds, is responsible for sexual dimorphism in the tail length of the Swallow. It seems that intersexual difference in wing length could be a result of such mechanisms as stabilizing the body sizes of males and females at different energetically optimum levels by natural selection.

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