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Data from: The evolution of sexually dimorphic tail feathers is not associated with tail skeleton dimorphism


Felice, Ryan N.; O'Connor, Patrick M. (2015), Data from: The evolution of sexually dimorphic tail feathers is not associated with tail skeleton dimorphism, Dryad, Dataset,


Sexual selection can influence the evolution of sexually dimorphic exaggerated display structures. Herein, we explore whether such costly ornamental integumentary structures evolve independently or if they are correlated with phenotypic change in the associated skeletal system. In birds, elongate tail feathers have frequently evolved in males and are beneficial as intraspecific display structures but impart a locomotor/energetic cost. Using the sexually dimorphic tail feathers of several passeriform species as a model system, we test the hypothesis that taxa with sexually dimorphic tail feathers also exhibit sexual dimorphism in the caudal skeleton that supports the muscles and integument of the tail apparatus. Caudal skeletal morphology is quantified using both geometric morphometrics and linear morphometrics across four sexually dimorphic passeriform species and four closely related monomorphic species. Sexual dimorphism is assessed using permutational MANOVA. Sexual dimorphism in caudal skeletal morphology is found only in those taxa that exhibit active functional differences in tail use between males and females. Thus, dimorphism in tail feather length is not necessarily correlated with the evolution of caudal skeletal dimorphism. Sexual selection is sufficient to generate phenotypic divergence in integumentary display structures between the sexes, but these change are not reflected in the underlying caudal skeleton. This suggests that caudal feathers and bones evolve semi-independently from one another and evolve at different rates in response to different types of selective pressures.

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