Title

Review of Sex, Size & Gender Roles: Evolutionary Studies of Sexual Size Dimorphism

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date

3-2008

Publication Title

Quarterly Review of Biology

DOI

10.1086/586922

ISSN

1539-7718

Abstract

Since Darwin’s Decent of Man (1874), biologists have been fascinated by the evolutionary pro-cesses that produce and maintain sexual size dimorphisms (SSD). This excellent volume is filled with the most current and stimulating re-search on SSD. It is separated into three sec-tions. The first section contains six chapters that review macroevolutionary patterns of variation across major taxonomic groups (e.g., reptiles, birds, and insects). These chapters assess the role of sexual selection as a contributor to SSD and test Rensch’s rule. Section II has eight chap-ters that explore microevolutionary processes that might be responsible for SSD (e.g., fecun-dity selection, genetic constraints, and differen-tial equilibrium). In some ways, these chapters are the backbone of the book because they pro-vide a synthesis of the proximate selection pat-terns that generate SSD and, thus, present an organizational framework to further explore how the wide variation in SSD arises in certain species (Chapters 8 to 11) or populations (Chap-ters 12 through 15). Section III explores the developmental and genetic mechanisms respon-sible for SSD. Unlike earlier sections, these five chapters do not address the adaptive value or generation of SSD; rather, the authors explore how growth trajectories and morphologies are generated during gene expression and develop-ment. This section was particularly thought-provoking because these issues are fundamen-tally important, yet have received less attention than other areas of SSD research.

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