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Data from: Migrate small, sound big: functional constraints on body size promote tracheal elongation in cranes

Citation

Jones, Matthew R.; Witt, Christopher C. (2014), Data from: Migrate small, sound big: functional constraints on body size promote tracheal elongation in cranes, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.p8g3r

Abstract

Organismal traits often represent the outcome of opposing selection pressures. While social or sexual selection can cause the evolution of traits that constrain function or survival (e.g., ornamental feathers), it is unclear how the strength and direction of selection respond to ecological shifts that increase the severity of the constraint. For example, reduced body size might evolve by natural selection to enhance flight performance in migratory birds, but social or sexual selection favoring large body size may provide a countervailing force. Tracheal elongation is a potential outcome of these opposing pressures because it allows birds to convey an auditory signal of exaggerated body size. We predicted that the evolution of migration in cranes has coincided with a reduction of body size and a concomitant intensification of social or sexual selection for apparent large body size via tracheal elongation. We used a phylogenetic comparative approach to examine the relationships among migration distance, body mass, and trachea length in cranes. As predicted, we found that migration distance correlated negatively with body size and positively with proportional trachea length. This result was consistent with our hypothesis that evolutionary reductions in body size led to intensified selection for trachea length. The most likely ultimate causes of intensified positive selection on trachea length are the direct benefits of conveying a large body size in intraspecific contests for mates and territories. We conclude that the strength of social or sexual selection on crane body size is linked to the degree of functional constraint.

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