Sexual selection and the allometry of earwig forceps

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111 Citations (Scopus)


Positive intraspecific allometry, the tendency for large individuals to have relatively larger morphological traits, is thought to be more likely for secondary sexual traits than naturally selected traits. This is because secondary sexual traits are often used to signal individual quality and positive allometry should arise where the costs and/or benefits of signalling are size dependent. Here we examine the allometric relationships between forceps length, a sexually selected trait and elytra length, a naturally selected trait, in 42 species of earwig. Both forceps and elytra showed positive allometry. However, the degree of allometry was greater for forceps as predicted. If allometry arises due to sexual selection we would predict a greater degree of allometry in species with more exaggerated secondary sexual traits. Across species, the degree of forcep allometry did increase with forcep exaggeration. The relevance of positive allometry to reliable signalling is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-104
Number of pages8
JournalEvolutionary Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1996
Externally publishedYes


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