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Evolution of large males is associated with female-skewed adult sex ratios in amniotes


Liker, András et al. (2021), Evolution of large males is associated with female-skewed adult sex ratios in amniotes, Dryad, Dataset,


Body size often differs between the sexes (leading to sexual size dimorphism, SSD), as a consequence of differential responses by males and females to selection pressures. Adult sex ratio (the proportion of males in the adult population, ASR) should influence SSD because ASR relates to both the number of competitors and available mates, which shape the intensity of mating competition and thereby promotes SSD evolution. However, whether ASR correlates with SSD variation among species has not been yet tested across a broad range of taxa. Using phylogenetic comparative analyses of 462 amniotes (i.e. reptiles, birds and mammals), we fill this knowledge gap by showing that male bias in SSD increases with increasingly female-biased ASRs in both mammals and birds. This relationship is not explained by the higher mortality of the larger sex because SSD is not associated with sex differences in either juvenile or adult mortality. Phylogenetic path analysis indicates that higher mortality in one sex leads to skewed ASR, which in turn may generate selection for SSD biased towards the rare sex. Taken together, our findings provide evidence that skewed ASRs in amniote populations can result in the rarer sex evolving large size to capitalize on enhanced mating opportunities.


Comparative dataset containing raw data used in the study. Data were collected from published sources (see Methods in the paper), references are provided for all records.