Males and females differ in body size in many animals, but the direction and extent of this sexual size dimorphism (SSD) varies widely. Males are larger than females in most lizards of the iguanian clade, which includes dragon lizards (Agamidae). I tested whether the male larger pattern of SSD in the peninsula dragon lizard, Ctenophorus fionni, is a result of sexual selection for large male size or relatively higher mortality among females. Data on growth and survivorship were collected from wild lizards during 1991-1994. The likelihood of differential predation between males and females was assessed by exposing pairs of male and female lizards to a predator in captivity, and by comparing the frequency of tail damage in wild-caught males and females. Male and female C. fionni grew at the same rate, but males grew for longer than females and reached a larger asymptotic size (87mm vs. 78mm). Large males were under-represented in the population because they suffered higher mortality than females. Predation may account for some of this male-biased mortality. The male-biased SSD in C. fionni resulted from differences in growth pattern between the sexes. The male-biased SSD was not the result of proximate factors reducing female body size. Indeed SSD in this species remained male-biased despite high mortality among large males. SSD in C. fionni is consistent with the ultimate explanation of sexual selection for large body size in males.
- Ctenophorus fionni
- Sexual size dimorphism