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Is fecundity the ultimate cause of female-biased size dimorphism in a dragon lizard?

Authors


  • *Correction added after publication 28 July 2007: the title was changed from ‘Is fecundity the ultimate cause of female-biased size dimorphism in the dragon lizard?’ to ‘Is fecundity the ultimate cause of female-biased size dimorphism in a dragon lizard?’.

Correspondence
E. Wapstra, School of Zoology, University of Tasmania, Locked bag 5, Hobart 7001 Tasmania, Australia. Tel: +61 3 6226 2813; Fax: +61 3 6226 2745
Email: Erik.Wapstra@utas.edu.au

Abstract

Fecundity selection is one of the most influential underlying driving forces responsible for body size differences between the sexes of a species. Reproductive output is one of the most important aspects of an animal's life-history strategy, and any trait that acts to improve this will be under strong selection. Body size is one potential trait that can influence fecundity and when a species exhibits female-biased size dimorphism, fecundity provides an ideal starting point for understanding why dimorphism in body size exists. Female-biased sexual size dimorphism is uncommon in vertebrates, including lizards. To explore the relationship between female-biased size dimorphism and fecundity, we examined maternal size and clutch data collected over four years from a temperate-zone agamid, Rankinia (Tympanocryptis) diemensis. We measured the following descriptors of reproductive output: clutch size and mass, relative clutch mass (RCM), average egg mass and offspring size. We found a positive relationship between maternal size and clutch size and mass, but no relationship between maternal size and RCM, average egg mass or hatchling size, demonstrating that the relative reproductive output is not influenced by female size, and that the only way to increase reproductive output is for the female to attain a greater body size. There exists an overall strong relationship between maternal body size and fecundity, thereby providing a potential explanation as to why female size is under selection in this species.

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