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Sexual dimorphism in trait variability and its eco-evolutionary and statistical implications

Zajitschek, SRK, Zajitschek, F, Russell, B, Brooks, RC, Cornwell, W, Falster, DS, Lagisz, M, Mason, J, Senior, AM, Noble, DAW and Nakagawa, S Sexual dimorphism in trait variability and its eco-evolutionary and statistical implications. eLife, 9. ISSN 2050-084X (Accepted)

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Abstract

Biomedical and clinical sciences are experiencing a renewed interest in the fact that males and females differ in many anatomic, physiological, and behavioral traits. Sex differences in trait variability, however, are yet to receive similar recognition. In medical science, mammalian females are assumed to have higher trait variability due to estrous cycles (the 'estrus-mediated variability hypothesis'); historically in biomedical research, females have been excluded for this reason. Contrastingly, evolutionary theory and associated data support the 'greater male variability hypothesis'. Here, we test these competing hypotheses in 218 traits measured in >26,900 mice, using meta-analysis methods. Neither hypothesis could universally explain patterns in trait variability. Sex-bias in variability was trait-dependent. While greater male variability was found in morphological traits, females were much more variable in immunological traits. Sex-specific variability has eco-evolutionary ramifications including sex-dependent responses to climate change, as well as statistical implications including power analysis considering sex difference in variance.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0601 Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Subjects: Q Science > QD Chemistry
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (new Sep 19)
Publisher: eLife Sciences Publications Ltd
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2020 09:49
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2020 10:00
DOI or Identification number: 10.7554/elife.63170
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14025

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