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Sexual size dimorphism in anurans: roles of mating system and habitat types

Wen Bo Liao1*, Yu Zeng13 and Jian Dong Yang2

Author Affiliations

1 Key Laboratory of Southwest China Wildlife Resources Conservation (Ministry of Education), China West Normal University, Nanchong, Sichuan 637009, China

2 Colleges of Animal Science, Sichuan Agricultural University, Ya’an 625014, China

3 China Three Gorges Corporation, Beijing 100038, China

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Frontiers in Zoology 2013, 10:65  doi:10.1186/1742-9994-10-65

Published: 7 November 2013



Sexual size dimorphism (SSD) is widespread and variable among animals. Sexual selection, fecundity selection and ecological divergence between males and females are the major evolutionary forces of SSD. However, the influences of mating system and habitat types on SSD have received little attention. Here, using phylogenetic comparative methods, we at first examine the hypotheses to that mating system (intensity of sexual selection) and habitat types affect significantly variation in SSD in anurans (39 species and 18 genera).


Our data set encompass 39 species with female-biased SSD. We provide evidence that the effects of mating system and habitat types on SSD were non-significant across species, also when the analyses were phylogenetically corrected.


Contrast to the hypotheses, our findings suggest that mating system and habitat types do not play an important role in shaping macro-evolutionary patterns of SSD in anurans. Mating system and habitat types cannot explain the variation in SSD when correcting for phylogenetic effects.

Anuran; Habitat type; Mating system; Phylogenetic comparative analysis; Sexual size dimorphism