Plasticity of size and allometry in multiple sexually selected traits in an armed beetle Gnatocerus cornutus

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Male-male competition frequently results in the evolution of sexually selected traits used as weapons and ornaments. The expression of these traits often depends on male condition, i. e., condition dependence. Although males often have multiple sexually selected traits, to date many studies have focused on the morphological analysis of one sexual trait whilst ignoring the others. We here report phenotypic plasticity for multiple sexual traits, by manipulating larval diet quality and density, in the broad-horned flour beetle Gnatocerus cornutus. The male beetles possess enlarged mandibles, developed genae and a pair of small horns, but females lack these completely. Larval density significantly affected overall body size but not relative investment in each sexual trait. In contrast, diet quality had no effect on body size but had a significant effect on relative investment in the mandibles and genae. These results indicate that the allometric intercepts of the mandible and genae alter in response to diet quality, i.e., allometric plasticity. However, diet quality had no effect on the growth of the horn. Thus, multiple sexual traits exhibited differences in plasticity as a result of larval nutrient condition in G. cornutus males.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1339-1351
Number of pages13
JournalEvolutionary Ecology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


  • Allometry
  • Condition dependence
  • Exaggerated trait
  • Horned beetle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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