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Am Nat. 2005 Sep;166(3):426-36. Epub 2005 Jul 11.

Weapon performance, not size, determines mating success and potential reproductive output in the collared lizard (Crotaphytus collaris).

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Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011, USA.


In territorial polygynous taxa, reproductive success reflects phenotypic variation. Using Crotaphytus collaris, a sexually dimorphic lizard in which males use the head (i.e., jaws and associated musculature) as a weapon when territorial interactions escalate to fights, we tested the hypothesis that weapon performance (i.e., bite force) is a better predictor of fitness than body or weapon size. Bite-force performance predicted the number of female home ranges overlapped, estimated mating success, and potential reproductive output. However, no body or weapon size measure correlated with these estimates of fitness, and only one weapon dimension (head width) correlated with bite force. These results indicate that weapon performance has far stronger effects on fitness than body or weapon size, likely because it directly influences fight outcomes. As such, it is desirable that the use of morphology as a proxy for performance and its presumed extensions to fitness be based on empirical morphology-performance relationships.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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