Sexual size dimorphism (SSD) is widespread in a variety of vertebrate taxa, and its presence has been associated with a range of evolutionary and ecological factors. Turtles, as a lineage, have been shown to include species that exhibit both forms of SSD—male-biased (male larger) and female-biased (female larger)—as well as species that do not exhibit SSD (male size ≅ female size). Previous work has suggested that factors affecting the direction and magnitude of SSD in turtles may include habitat preference and fecundity; these correlations, however, have not been tested in a phylogenetic context. To provide a framework for evaluating potential correlates with the magnitude and direction of SSD in turtles, we examined the phylogenetic distribution of SSD in this clade. Published sources were surveyed for data on the direction and magnitude of SSD, carapace length, clutch size, egg size, and preferred habitat (terrestrial vs. nonterrestrial). Phylogenies were compiled from multiple published sources to develop a phylogeny for all taxa (n = 82) for which SSD data were assembled. The phylogenetic distribution of SSD was then evaluated using parsimony-based methods. These analyses indicated that the ancestral condition for extant turtles was female-biased SSD. Phylogenetic analyses conducted on subsets of the data (concentrated-changes tests, independent contrasts) indicated that changes in SSD state were not correlated with changes in habitat preference. Both male and female carapace length were found to be correlated with traits related to fecundity (egg size, clutch size), but the degree of dimorphism was not found to be correlated with these traits. A significant negative correlation between egg size and clutch size was also evident in turtles, as predicted by life-history theory.
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Vol. 65 • No. 1