Abstracts (first author)
Sexual conflict predicts the evolution of sexual dimorphism in a diverse avian family, the Penduline tits (Remizidae)PDF
Sexual selection is a potent evolutionary force that can cause the rapid diversification of morphological and behavioural traits. The Penduline tits (Remizidae) are a small passerine family distributed throughout Eurasia, Africa and North America which employ a diverse array of reproductive strategies. The European species (Remiz pendulinus) is highly promiscuous, with both males and females having up to 6 sequential mates in a single season. The pursuit of additional mating opportunities results in uni-parental care due to male and female nest desertion and, surprisingly common bi-parental desertion (up to 30%). The considerable variation in parental care conflict across this family led us to produce the first molecular phylogeny of the Remizidae family (13 species) so that the relationship between sexual dimorphism evolution and sexual conflict could be explored. As predicted by sexual selection theory we find that increased levels of conflict over care are associated with sexually dimorphic plumage traits. The relationship between parental investment and sexual selection is a key piller of sexual selection theory but the empirical examples of this in such closely related species are rare. To ascertain the drivers of this relationship is a key objective within evolutionary biology.