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J Morphol. 2006 May;267(5):602-11.

Convergent evolution of sexual shape dimorphism in Diptera.

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School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.


Several patterns of sexual shape dimorphism, such as male body elongation, eye stalks, or extensions of the exoskeleton, have evolved repeatedly in the true flies (Diptera). Although these dimorphisms may have evolved in response to sexual selection on male body shape, conserved genetic factors may have contributed to this convergent evolution, resulting in stronger phenotypic convergence than might be expected from functional requirements alone. I compared phenotypic variation in body shape in two distantly related species exhibiting sexually dimorphic body elongation: Prochyliza xanthostoma (Piophilidae) and Telostylinus angusticollis (Neriidae). Although sexual selection appears to act differently on male body shape in these species, they exhibited strikingly similar patterns of sexual dimorphism. Likewise, patterns of within-sex shape variation were similar in the two species, particularly in males: relative elongation of the male head capsule, antenna, and legs was associated with reduced head capsule width and wing length, but was nearly independent of variation in thorax length. However, the two species presented contrasting patterns of static allometry: male sexual traits exhibited elevated allometric slopes in T. angusticollis, but not in P. xanthostoma. These results suggest that a shared pattern of covariation among traits may have channeled the evolution of sexually dimorphic body elongation in these species. Nonetheless, static allometries may have been shaped by species-specific selection pressures or genetic architectures.

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