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Sexual Dimorphism, the Operational Sex Ratio, and the Intensity of Male Competition in Polygynous Primates

J. C. Mitani, J. Gros-Louis and A. F. Richards
The American Naturalist
Vol. 147, No. 6 (Jun., 1996), pp. 966-980
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2463187
Page Count: 15
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Sexual Dimorphism, the Operational Sex Ratio, and the Intensity of Male Competition in Polygynous Primates
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Abstract

Male mating competition is generally regarded to account for sexual dimorphism in body size, but levels of sexual dimorphism do not appear to be associated with the intensity of intrasexual selection in polygynous mammals. In contrast, observations of accentuated dimorphism in certain taxa and in large species are consistent with nonadaptive explanations for the evolution of sexual size dimorphism based on phylogenetic inertia and allometry. Here we employ a weight-corrected measure of sexual dimorphism and a biologically realistic assay of mating competition, the operational sex ratio, to reexamine the factors favoring the evolution of sexual size dimorphism in primates. Independent contrasts that control for the effects of allometry and phylogeny produce results consistent with the sexual selection hypothesis; a strong relationship exists between sexual dimorphism in size and the intensity of male mating competition among polygynously mating primates. Increased sexual dimorphism in large primates may not be an inevitable consequence of allometry but instead may result from a reduction in the temporal availability of fertile females due to long birth intervals.

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