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Sexual selection and extinction in deer
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Biology Education Centre. (Evolutionary Biology Centre)
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 80 credits / 120 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

By performing a comparative analysis and using phylogenetic relationships of the Cervidaefamily this study aimed to address whether or not sexual selection may play a role in the extinctionof species by making species more vulnerable to extinction. The role of sexual selection in makingspecies more vulnerable to extinction is largely unexplored, and several factors such as ecologicaland life history traits may increase the risk of extinction.In all species of the family Cervidae (Gilbert et al. 2006, Geist 1998,Groves and Grubb2011,Meijaardand Groves2004,Price et al. 2005, Goss 1983) sexually selected characters plays amain role in determining species status and thus potentially their probability of extinction. In thisstudy the intensity of sexual selection (measured as sexual size dimorphism, antler size and matingsystem) and the rate of extinction (IUCN classification and anthropogenic effect) were counted asfactors to determine the role of sexual selection intensity in both species-rich and species-poorclades.By using the programme MESQUITE and phylogenetic trees, the results show an associationbetween species with larger body size and dimorphism, living in open habitats and having largerantler size expanded to more than three tines; such species are mostly non-territorial and formharems during the rutting season. The small species are territorial, live in closed habitats, aremonomorphic and have small antler size limited to two tines or less. Moreover species that aremore subjected to habitat degradation and anthropogenic effects tend to become smaller in size.Extinction risk for the species-rich clades with small sized, territorial and small antler sizedspecies is lower than for those consisting of species with larger antler size, larger body size, livingin open habitats and using harems as mating system.To sum up, the intensity of sexual selection in larger species in deer family put them in risk ofextinction; but on the other site, small species are more adapted to the environment by choosingdifferent strategy in mating system, and reducing antler and body size thus diminishing theextinction risk.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 62 p.
Keyword [en]
Sexual selection, Extinction, Cervidae, Size dimorphism, mating system
National Category
Evolutionary Biology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-211535OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-211535DiVA: diva2:667303
Educational program
Master Programme in Biology
2013-05-31, Lärosal 2, Norbyvägen 18 D, Uppsala, 10:30 (English)
Available from: 2014-07-23 Created: 2013-11-26 Last updated: 2014-07-23Bibliographically approved

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