Department of Biology
Alistair J. Cullum
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-2525
Physiological Zoology 71(5):541-552 (1998)
Abstract - Numerous studies have examined sexual dimorphism in the morphology and behavior of vertebrates; very few, however, have explicitly investigated the possibility of gender differences in physiological performance, despite the observations of such differences in humans. In this study, I investigated physiological sexual dimorphism in the lizard genus Cnemidophorus by measuring five whole-animal traits, all of which are likely to influence fitness in these species: burst speed, endurance, maximal exertion capacity, standard metabolic rate, and evaporative water loss rate. Because at least some of these traits are known to be strongly influenced by body size, I tested for dimorphism using both absolute and size-corrected trait values. An examination of six Cnemidophorus species and subspecies revealed a strong trend towards higher absolute trait values in males for all variables except endurance. Most of the dimorphism in standard metabolic rate and evaporative water loss rate could be explained by differences in body mass between males and females; for the locomotor traits, however, body size explained only a small fraction of the overall sexual dimorphism. The portion of trait differences not explained by body size was likely due to gender differences in physiology, such as differences in relative muscularity and fat content.