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Data from: Novel host plant leads to the loss of sexual dimorphism in a sexually-selected male weapon


Allen, Pablo; Miller, Christine W.; Allen, Pablo E. (2017), Data from: Novel host plant leads to the loss of sexual dimorphism in a sexually-selected male weapon, Dryad, Dataset,


In this time of massive global change, species are now frequently interacting with novel players. Greater insight into the impact of these novel interactions on traits linked to fitness is essential, because effects on these traits can hinder population existence or promote rapid adaptation. Sexually-selected weapons and ornaments frequently influence fitness and often have heightened condition-dependence in response to nutrition. Condition-dependence in response to different ecological conditions, a form of developmental plasticity, may be responsible for much of the intraspecific variation in sexually selected ornaments and weapons in wild populations. Here we examined the consequences of developing on a novel plant for the expression of size and shape in the leaf-footed cactus bug Narnia femorata (Hemiptera: Coreidae). The males of this species possess enlarged, sexually-dimorphic femurs on their hind legs. These legs are used as weapons in male-male contests. Females are typically larger in overall body size. Our study revealed that developing upon a novel host can lead to pronounced phenotypically plastic change in sexually-dimorphic traits. Male hind femurs were greatly impacted by the novel diet to the extent that the sexual dimorphism in hind femurs was lost. Further, dimorphism in body size increased, as males became tiny adults while females better maintained their body size. These patterns underscore the complex effects that novel species interactions may have on sexual phenotypes.

Usage Notes


National Science Foundation, Award: IOS- 092685, IOS-1553100