The relationship between sexual size dimorphism and habitat use in Greater Antillean anolis lizards

Marguerite A. Butler, Thomas W. Schoener, Jonathan B. Losos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

199 Scopus citations


Sexual size dimorphism (SSD) is the evolutionary result of selection operating differently on the body sizes of males and females. Anolis lizard species of the Greater Antilles have been classified into ecomorph classes, largely on the basis of their structural habitat (perch height and diameter). We show that the major ecomorph classes differ in degree of SSD. At least two SSD classes are supported: high SSD (trunk-crown, trunk-ground) and low SSD (trunk, crown-giant, grass-bush, twig). Differences cannot be attributed to an allometric increase of SSD with body size or to a phylogenetic effect. A third explanation, that selective pressures on male and/or female body size vary among habitat types, is examined by evaluating expectations from the major relevant kinds of selective pressures. Although no one kind of selective pressure produces expectations consistent with all of the information, competition with respect to structural habitat and sexual selection pressures are more likely possibilities than competition with respect to prey size or optimal feeding pressures. The existence of habitat-specific sexual dimorphism suggests that adaptation of Anolis species to their environment is more complex than previously appreciated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-272
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2000


  • Allometry
  • Anolis lizards
  • Body size
  • Comparative methods
  • Phylogenetic effect
  • Sexual selection


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