Selection on body size and sexual size dimorphism differs between host species in a seed-feeding beetle

C. W. Fox, M. E. Czesak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Sexual size dimorphism varies substantially among populations and species but we have little understanding of the sources of selection generating this variation. We used path analysis to study how oviposition host affects selection on body size in a seed-feeding beetle (Stator limbatus) in which males contribute large ejaculates (nuptial gifts) to females. Females use nutrients in these ejaculates for egg production. Male body size, which affects ejaculate size, affects female fecundity and is thus under fecundity selection similar in magnitude to the fecundity selection on female body size. We show that when eggs are laid on a host on which larval mortality is low (seeds of Acacia greggii) fecundity predicts fitness very well and fecundity selection is the major source of selection on both male and female adult size. In contrast, when eggs are laid on a host on which larval mortality is high (seeds of Parkinsonia florida) fecundity poorly predicts fitness such that fecundity selection is relaxed on both male and female size. However, because egg size affects larval mortality on this poor host (P. florida) there is selection on female size via the female size → egg size → fitness path; this selection via egg size offsets the reduction in fecundity selection on female, but not male, body size. Thus, differences in host suitability (due to differences in larval mortality) affect the relative importance of two sources of selection on adult body size; fecundity selection on both male and female body size is lower on the poor quality host (P. florida) relative to the high quality host (A. greggii) whereas selection on female body size via effects of egg size on offspring survival (body size → egg size → fitness) is greater on the poor quality host relative to the high quality host. Because selection via the egg size path affects only females the difference in larval survival between hosts shifts the relative magnitude of selection on female vs. male size. Researchers working on other study systems should be alerted to the possible importance of subtle, but consequential, indirect selection on their study organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1167-1174
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume19
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2006

Keywords

  • Egg size
  • Fecundity selection
  • Natural selection
  • Path analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Selection on body size and sexual size dimorphism differs between host species in a seed-feeding beetle'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this