Current Zoology(formerly Acta Zoologica Sinica), 2012, 58(3): 453 - 462
Heterospecific interactions and the proliferation of sexually dimorphic traits
Karin S. PFENNIG, Allen H. HURLBERT
D e p a r t m e n t o f B i o l o g y , U n i v e r s i t y o f N o r t h C a r o l i n a C h a p e l H i l l , U S A
Sexual selection is expected to promote speciation by fostering the evolution of sexual traits that minimize reproductive interactions among existing or incipient species. In species that compete for access to, or attention of, females, sexual selection fosters more elaborate traits in males compared to females. If these traits also minimize reproductive interactions with heterospecifics, then species with enhanced risk of interactions between species might display greater numbers of these sexually dimorphic characters. We tested this prediction in eight families of North American birds. In particular, we evaluated whether the number of sexually dimorphic traits was positively associated with species richness at a given site or with degree of sympatry with congeners. We found no strong evidence of enhanced sexual dimorphism with increasing confamilial species richness at a given site. We also found no overall relationship between the number of sexually dimorphic traits and overlap with congeners across these eight families. However, we found patterns consistent with our prediction within Anatidae (ducks, geese and swans) and, to a lesser degree, Parulidae (New World warblers). Our results suggest that sexually selected plumage traits in these groups potentially play a role in reproductive isolation [Current Zoology 58 (3): 453-462, 2012].
Speciation, Reproductive character displacement, Sexual selection, species recognition, Reinforcement
*Correspondence should be addressed to Karin S. PFENNIG (E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org).