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Data from: Sex-linked genomic variation and its relationship to avian plumage dichromatism and sexual selection

Cite this dataset

Huang, Huateng; Rabosky, Daniel L. (2015). Data from: Sex-linked genomic variation and its relationship to avian plumage dichromatism and sexual selection [Dataset]. Dryad.


Background: Sexual dichromatism is the tendency for sexes to differ in color pattern and represents a striking form of within-species morphological variation. Conspicuous intersexual differences in avian plumage are generally thought to result from Darwinian sexual selection, to the extent that dichromatism is often treated as a surrogate for the intensity of sexual selection in phylogenetic comparative studies. Intense sexual selection is predicted to leave a footprint on genetic evolution by reducing the relative genetic diversity on sex chromosome to that on the autosomes. Results: In this study, we test the association between plumage dichromatism and sex-linked genetic diversity using eight species pairs with contrasting levels of dichromatism. We estimated Z-linked and autosomal genetic diversity for these non-model avian species using restriction-site associated (RAD) loci that covered ~3 % of the genome. We find that monochromatic birds consistently have reduced sex-linked genomic variation relative to phylogenetically-paired dichromatic species and this pattern is robust to mutational biases. Conclusions: Our results are consistent with several interpretations. If present-day sexual selection is stronger in dichromatic birds, our results suggest that its impact on sex-linked genomic variation is offset by other processes that lead to proportionately lower Z-linked variation in monochromatic species. We discuss possible factors that may contribute to this discrepancy between phenotypes and genomic variation. Conversely, it is possible that present-day sexual selection -- as measured by the variance in male reproductive success -- is stronger in the set of monochromatic taxa we have examined, potentially reflecting the importance of song, behavior and other non-plumage associated traits as targets of sexual selection. This counterintuitive finding suggests that the relationship between genomic variation and sexual selection is complex and highlights the need for a more comprehensive survey of genomic variation in avian taxa that vary markedly in social and genetic mating systems.

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