Evidence for Male Horn Dimorphism and Related Pronotal Shape Variation in Copris lunaris (Linnaeus, 1758) (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae, Coprini).
ABSTRACT: Male horn dimorphism is a rather common phenomenon in dung beetles, where some adult individuals have well-developed head horns (i.e., major males), while others exhibit diminished horn length (i.e., minor males). We focused on horn dimorphism and associated head and pronotum shape variations in Copris lunaris. We examined the allometric relationship between horn length (i.e., cephalic and pronotal horns) and maximum pronotum width (as index of body size) by fitting linear and sigmoidal models for both sexes. We then asked whether head and pronotum shape variations, quantified using the geometric morphometric approach, contributed to this allometric pattern. We found that female cephalic and pronotal horn growth showed a typical isometric scaling with body size. Horn length in males, however, exhibited sigmoidal allometry, where a certain threshold in body size separated males into two distinct morphs as majors and minors. Interestingly, we highlighted the same allometric patterns (i.e., isometric vs. sigmoidal models) by scaling horn lengths with pronotum shape, making evident that male horn dimorphism is not only a matter of body size. Furthermore, the analysis of shape showed that the three morphs had similar heads, but different pronota, major males showing a more expanded, rounded pronotum than minor males and females. These morphological differences in C. lunaris can ultimately have important functional consequences in the ecology of this species, which should be explored in future work.
Project description:Allometric relationships describe the proportional covariation between morphological, physiological, or life-history traits and the size of the organisms. Evolutionary allometries estimated among species are expected to result from species differences in ontogenetic allometry, but it remains uncertain whether ontogenetic allometric parameters and particularly the ontogenetic slope can evolve. In bovids, the nonlinear evolutionary allometry between horn length and body mass in males suggests systematic changes in ontogenetic allometry with increasing species body mass. To test this hypothesis, we estimated ontogenetic allometry between horn length and body mass in males and females of 19 bovid species ranging from ca. 5 to 700 kg. Ontogenetic allometry changed systematically with species body mass from steep ontogenetic allometries over a short period of horn growth in small species to shallow allometry with the growth period of horns matching the period of body mass increase in the largest species. Intermediate species displayed steep allometry over long period of horn growth. Females tended to display shallower ontogenetic allometry with longer horn growth compared to males, but these differences were weak and highly variable. These findings show that ontogenetic allometric slope evolved across species possibly as a response to size-related changes in the selection pressures acting on horn length and body mass.
Project description:Sex-specific trait expression is frequently associated with highly variable, condition-dependent expression within sexes and rapid divergence among closely related species. Horned beetles are an excellent example for studying the molecular basis of these phenomena because horn morphology varies markedly among species, between sexes, and among alternative, nutritionally-cued morphs within sexes. In addition, horns lack obvious homology to other insect traits and provide a good opportunity to explore the molecular basis of the rapid diversification of a novel trait within and between species. Here we show that the sex-determination gene doublesex (dsx) underlies important aspects of horn development, including differences between sexes, morphs, and species. In male Onthophagus taurus, dsx transcripts were preferentially expressed in the horns of the large, horned morph, and RNAi-mediated knockdown of dsx dramatically altered male horn allometry by massively reducing horn development in large males, but not in smaller males. Conversely, dsx RNAi induced ectopic, nutrition-sensitive horn development in otherwise hornless females. Finally, in a closely related species (Onthophagus sagittarius) that has recently evolved a rare reversed sexual dimorphism, dsx RNAi revealed reversed as well as novel dsx functions despite an overall conservation of dsx expression. This suggests that rapid evolution of dsx functions has facilitated the transition from a regular sexual dimorphism to a reversed sexual dimorphism in this species. Our findings add beetle horns to existing examples of a close relationship between dsx and sexual trait development, and suggest that dsx function has been coopted to facilitate both the evolution of environmentally-cued intrasexual dimorphisms and rapid species divergences in a novel trait.
Project description:Morphological diversity arises during development through the actions and interactions of diverse developmental pathways. Among those, the Wnt pathway is known to contribute to diverse developmental processes such as segmentation and the morphogenesis of appendages. Here, we characterize a transcription factor in the Wnt pathway, pangolin (pan), to investigate the role of Wnt signaling in the development of evolutionarily novel body structures: the horns of beetles. Beetle horns are highly diverse in size, shape, and number and develop principally from two major body regions: the head and prothorax. We investigate horns in two species of the genus Onthophagus using comparative in situ hybridization, larval RNA interference, and allometric measurements to analyze whether horn formation is regulated by pan and by extension the Wnt pathway. Our results illustrate that pan expression affects beetle horn growth in a species-, sex-, and location-specific manner in two morphologically distinct, yet closely-related, Onthophagus species.
Project description:Sexual dimorphism is a common in the animal kingdom and is often linked to mate choice or competition for mates in polygynous mating systems. However, sexual dimorphism is less common in species that form heterosexual pairs and has not been recorded in pair-forming coral-reef fish. Here we demonstrate a pronounced morphological difference between males and females in the humphead bannerfish (Heniochus varius)-a pair-forming coral reef butterflyfish. Males of paired individuals collected in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea had substantially larger hump and horn protrusions on their heads than females. Fish were also sexed, sized and aged to determine the reproductive and demographic basis of the pairing behaviour. H. varius pairs were exclusively heterosexual and were assorted strongly by total length and slightly less so by age. Females in pairs were generally the same size as male partners, but were frequently older by a year and sometimes more. Hump and horn lengths increased proportionally to body-size in both sexes, with horns growing at a greater rate among males. These findings suggest that H. varius form pairs primarily for reproductive purposes, with selection via a size-assortative process that likely also extends to selection for larger hump and horn protrusions among males. The larger humps and horns in males appear to be the first recorded example of a secondary sexual morphological characteristic in a pair-forming coral reef fish species.
Project description:It has long been recognized that male mating competition is responsible for the evolution of weaponry for mate acquisition. However, when females mate with more than one male, competition between males can continue after mating in the form of sperm competition. Theory predicts that males should increase their investment in sperm production as sperm competition is increased, but it assumes that males face a trade-off between sperm production and other life-history traits such as mate acquisition. Here, we use a genus of horned beetle, Onthophagus, to examine the trade-off between investment in testes required for fertilizations and investment in weapons used to obtain matings. In a within-species study, we prevented males from developing horns and found that these males grew larger and invested relatively more in testes growth than did males allowed to grow horns. Among species, there was no general relationship between the relative sizes of horns and testes. However, the allometric slope of horn size on body size was negatively associated with the allometric slope of testes size on body size. We suggest that this reflects meaningful evolutionary changes in the developmental mechanisms regulating trait growth, specifically in the degree of nutrition-dependent phenotypic plasticity versus canalization of traits. Finally, we show how this resource allocation trade-off has influenced the evolutionary diversification of weapons, revealing a rich interplay between developmental trade-offs and both pre- and postmating mechanisms of sexual competition.
Project description:Scarab beetles exhibit an astonishing variety of rigid exo-skeletal outgrowths, known as "horns". These traits are often sexually dimorphic and vary dramatically across species in size, shape, location, and allometry with body size. In many species, the horn exhibits disproportionate growth resulting in an exaggerated allometric relationship with body size, as compared to other traits, such as wings, that grow proportionately with body size. Depending on the species, the smallest males either do not produce a horn at all, or they produce a disproportionately small horn for their body size. While the diversity of horn shapes and their behavioural ecology have been reasonably well studied, we know far less about the proximate mechanisms that regulate horn growth. Thus, using 454 pyrosequencing, we generated transcriptome profiles, during horn growth and development, in two different scarab beetle species: the Asian rhinoceros beetle, Trypoxylus dichotomus, and the dung beetle, Onthophagus nigriventris. We obtained over half a million reads for each species that were assembled into over 6,000 and 16,000 contigs respectively. We combined these data with previously published studies to look for signatures of molecular evolution. We found a small subset of genes with horn-biased expression showing evidence for recent positive selection, as is expected with sexual selection on horn size. We also found evidence of relaxed selection present in genes that demonstrated biased expression between horned and horn-less morphs, consistent with the theory of developmental decoupling of phenotypically plastic traits.
Project description:Dimorphic sexual differences in shape and body size are called sexual dimorphism and sexual size dimorphism, respectively. The degrees of both dimorphisms are considered to increase with sexual selection, represented by male-male competition. However, the degrees of the two dimorphisms often differ within a species. In some dung beetles, typical sexual shape dimorphisms are seen in male horns and other exaggerated traits, although sexual size dimorphism looks rare. We hypothesized that the evolution of this sexual shape dimorphism without sexual size dimorphism is caused by male-male competition and their crucial and sex-indiscriminate provisioning behaviors, in which parents provide the equivalent size of brood ball with each of both sons and daughters indiscriminately. As a result of individual-based model simulations, we show that parents evolve to provide each of sons and daughters with the optimal amount of resource for a son when parents do not distinguish the sex of offspring and males compete for mates. This result explains why crucial and sex-indiscriminate parental provisioning does not prevent the evolution of sexual shape dimorphism. The model result was supported by empirical data of Scarabaeidae beetles. In some dung beetles, sexual size dimorphism is absent, compared with significant sexual size dimorphism in other horned beetles, although both groups exhibit similar degrees of sexual shape dimorphism in male horns and other exaggerated traits.
Project description:The evolutionary history of sexual selection in the geologic past is poorly documented based on quantification, largely because of difficulty in sexing fossil specimens. Even such essential ecological parameters as adult sex ratio (ASR) and sexual size dimorphism (SSD) are rarely quantified, despite their implications for sexual selection. To enable their estimation, we propose a method for unbiased sex identification based on sexual shape dimorphism, using size-independent principal components of phenotypic data. We applied the method to test sexual selection in Keichousaurus hui, a Middle Triassic (about 237 Ma) sauropterygian with an unusually large sample size for a fossil reptile. Keichousaurus hui exhibited SSD biased towards males, as in the majority of extant reptiles, to a minor degree (sexual dimorphism index -0.087). The ASR is about 60% females, suggesting higher mortality of males over females. Both values support sexual selection of males in this species. The method may be applied to other fossil species. We also used the Gompertz allometric equation to study the sexual shape dimorphism of K. hui and found that two sexes had largely homogeneous phenotypes at birth except in the humeral width, contrary to previous suggestions derived from the standard allometric equation.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Protoceratops andrewsi (Neoceratopsia, Protoceratopsidae) is a well-known dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous of Mongolia. Some previous workers hypothesized sexual dimorphism in the cranial shape of this taxon, using qualitative and quantitative observations. In particular, width and height of the frill as well as the development of a nasal horn have been hypothesized as potentially sexually dimorphic.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>Here, we reassess potential sexual dimorphism in skulls of Protoceratops andrewsi by applying two-dimensional geometric morphometrics to 29 skulls in lateral and dorsal views. Principal Component Analyses and nonparametric MANOVAs recover no clear separation between hypothetical "males" and "females" within the overall morphospace. Males and females thus possess similar overall cranial morphologies. No differences in size between "males" and "females" are recovered using nonparametric ANOVAs.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>Sexual dimorphism within Protoceratops andrewsi is not strongly supported by our results, as previously proposed by several authors. Anatomical traits such as height and width of the frill, and skull size thus may not be sexually dimorphic. Based on PCA for a data set focusing on the rostrum and associated ANOVA results, nasal horn height is the only feature with potential dimorphism. As a whole, most purported dimorphic variation is probably primarily the result of ontogenetic cranial shape changes as well as intraspecific cranial variation independent of sex.
Project description:Feeding adaptation, social behaviour, and interspecific interactions related to sexual dimorphism and allometric growth are particularly challenging to be investigated in the high sexual monomorphic Delphinidae. We used geometric morphometrics to extensively explore sexual dimorphism and ontogenetic allometry of different projections of the skull and the mandible of the bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus. Two-dimensional landmarks were recorded on the dorsal, ventral, lateral, and occipital views of the skull, and on the lateral view of the left and the right mandible of 104 specimens from the Mediterranean and the North Seas, differing environmental condition and degree of interspecific associations. Landmark configurations were transformed, standardized and superimposed through a Generalized Procrustes Analysis. Size and shape differences between adult males and females were respectively evaluated through ANOVA on centroid size, Procrustes ANOVA on Procrustes distances, and MANOVA on Procrustes coordinates. Ontogenetic allometry was investigated by multivariate regression of shape coordinates on centroid size in the largest homogenous sample from the North Sea. Results evidenced sexual dimorphic asymmetric traits only detected in the adults of the North Sea bottlenose dolphins living in monospecific associations, with females bearing a marked incision of the cavity hosting the left tympanic bulla. These differences were related to a more refined echolocalization system that likely enhances the exploitation of local resources by philopatric females. Distinct shape in immature versus mature stages and asymmetric changes in postnatal allometry of dorsal and occipital traits, suggest that differences between males and females are established early during growth. Allometric growth trajectories differed between males and females for the ventral view of the skull. Allometric trajectories differed among projections of skull and mandible, and were related to dietary shifts experienced by subadults and adults.