Selection on weapon allometry in the wild

  • Zachary Emberts (Contributor)
  • Ummat Somjee (Contributor)
  • John J Wiens (Contributor)



Allometry is the scaling relationship between a trait and body size. This relationship can often explain considerable morphological variation within and among species. Nevertheless, much remains unknown about the factors that underlie allometric patterns. For example, when different allometric relationships are observed amongst closely related species, these differences are regularly considered to be products of selection. However, directional selection on allometry (particularly the slope) has rarely been tested and observed in natural populations. Here, we investigate selection on the scaling relationship between weapon size and body size (i.e., weapon allometry) in a wild population of giant mesquite bugs, Pachylis neocalifornicus (previously Thasus neocalifornicus). Males in this species use their weapons (enlarged femurs) to compete with one another over access to resources and females. We found that large males with relatively large weapons successfully secured access to mates. However, we also found that small males with relatively small weapons could access mates as well. These two patterns together can increase the allometric slope of the sexually selected weapon, suggesting a straightforward process by which the allometric slope can evolve.
Date made availableJun 30 2023

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