Differences in sexual dimorphism among four gazelle taxa (Gazella spp.) in the Middle East

in Animal Biology
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Abstract

Sexual selection can lead to sexual dimorphism, where elaborated traits used in mate attraction or weaponry are more expressed in the male sex. The degree of sexual dimorphism, however, is known to vary even among closely related taxa. Here we examined sexual dimorphism in horn length and three measures related to body size (body weight, shoulder height, and neck circumference) in four gazelle taxa, representing at least three species, i.e. Dorcas gazelle (G. dorcas), Sand gazelle (G. subgutturosa marica) and Mountain gazelle (G. gazella). The latter is represented by two distinctive phenotypes maintained and bred at the King Khalid Wildlife Research Centre in Saudi Arabia. We describe marked differences in sexual dimorphism among taxa. For example, the difference in sexually dimorphic horn development was driven primarily by females exhibiting pronounced differences in horn development. We discuss how divergent mating systems, and group sizes affect these differences among the examined taxa, with more competition in larger groups probably promoting the evolution of larger horns in females, thereby leading to less sexual dimorphism.

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