Sexual size dimorphism is ultimately the result of independent, sex-specific selection on body size. In mammals, male-biased sexual size dimorphism is the predominant pattern, and it is usually attributed to the polygynous mating system prevalent in most mammals. This sole explanation is unsatisfying because selection acts on both sexes simultaneously, therefore any explanation of sexual size dimorphism should explain why one sex is relatively large and the other is small. Using mark-recapture techniques and DNA microsatellite loci to assign parentage, we examined sex-specific patterns of annual reproductive success and survival in the yellow-pine chipmunk (Tamias amoenus), a small mammal with female-biased sexual size dimorphism, to test the hypothesis that the dimorphism was related to sex differences in the relationship between body size and fitness. Chipmunks were monitored and body size components measured over three years in the Kananaskis Valley, Alberta, Canada. Male reproductive success was independent of body size perhaps due to trade-offs in body size associated with behavioral components of male mating success: dominance and running speed. Male survival was consistent with stabilizing selection for overall body size and body size components. The relationship between reproductive success and female body size fluctuated. In two of three years the relationship was positive, whereas in one year the relationship was negative. This may have been the result of differences in environmental conditions among years. Large females require more energy to maintain their soma than small females and may be unable to maintain lactation in the face of challenging environmental conditions. Female survival was positively related to body size, with little evidence for stabilizing selection. Sex differences in the relationship between body size and fitness (reproductive success and survival) were the result of different processes, but were ultimately consistent with female-biased sexual size dimorphism evident in this species.
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Vol. 56 • No. 12