Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

Allometry as evidence of sexual selection in monochromatic birds: the case of the Coscoroba Swan (Anseriformes: Anatidae)

P. Calabuig, CeciliaJ. Green, AndyMuriel, RobertoKatzenberger, MarcoPatino-Martinez, JuanM. Moreira, Heden

The Coscoroba Swan, Coscoroba coscoroba (Molina, 1782), is a poorly known aberrant Anserine endemic to South America. We captured adult birds (189 male, 157 female) from the largest population in Brazil at the Taim Ecological Reserve, State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Different patterns between sexes can reflect differences in selection, and positive allometry may indicate that a character is sexually selected. We used body weight and 10 morphological measurements to examine allometric differences between males and females of C. coscoroba. Males were consistently larger than females. Analysis of scaling relationships against body mass showed that nostril, tail, wing and bill height were positively allometric (i.e., heavier birds had relatively larger character lengths), but there were no sexual differences in allometric slopes. However, for a given mass, mature females had longer tails, longer wings (up to metacarpophalangeal articulation) and shorter heads than males. In the light of current debate in the literature, we discuss whether such positively allometric traits and sexual differences in scaling may be indicative of sexual selection. Although Coscoroba Swan is a monogamous species, increasing the size of some attributes may confer some advantage for mate selection or male-male competition and, contrary to other studies, we suggest that positively allometric slopes alone should not be considered as evidence for sexual selection of the considered traits.

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