Intrasexual selection in Verreaux's sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi verreauxi).


Lawler RR, Richard AF, MA Riley


Studies of sexual selection show that both female choice and male-male competition can influence the evolution and expression of male phenotypes. In this regard, it is important to determine the functional basis through which male traits influence variation in male reproductive success. In this study, we estimate the strength and type of sexual selection acting on adult males in a population of wild lemur, Verreaux's sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi verreauxi). The data used in this study were collected at Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve, southwest Madagascar. We conducted paternity analyses on 70 males in order to estimate the distribution of reproductive success in this population. Paternity data were combined with morphometric data in order to determine which morphological traits covary with male fitness. Five morphological traits were defined in this analysis: body size, canine size, torso shape, arm shape, and leg shape. We utilized phenotypic selection models in order to determine the strength and type of selection acting directly on each trait. Our results show that directional selection acts on leg shape (a trait that is functionally related to locomotor performance), stabilizing selection acts on body mass and torso shape, and negative correlational selection acts on body mass and leg shape. We draw from biomechanical and kinematic studies of sifaka locomotion to provide a functional context for how these traits influence male mating competition within an arboreal environment. Verreaux's sifaka and many other gregarious lemurs are sexually monomorphic in body mass and canine size, despite a high frequency and intensity of male-male aggressive competition. Our results provide some insight into this paradox: in our population, there is no directional selection acting on body mass or canine size in males. The total pattern of selection implicates that behaviors relating to locomotor performance are more important than behaviors relating to fighting ability during intrasexual contests.

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