Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 7-5-2017


Assessing the long-term macroevolutionary consequences of sexual selection has been hampered by the difficulty of studying this process in the fossil record. Cytheroid ostracodes offer an excellent system to explore sexual selection in the fossil record because their readily fossilized carapaces are sexually dimorphic. Specifically, males are relatively more elongate than females in this superfamily. This sexual shape difference is thought to arise so that males carapaces can accommodate their very large copulatory apparatus, which can account for up to one-third of body volume. Here we test this widely held explanation for sexual dimorphism in cytheroid ostracodes by correlating investment in male genitalia, a trait in which sexual selection is seen as the main evolutionary driver, with sexual dimorphism of carapace in the genus Cyprideis. We analyzed specimens collected in the field (C. sale-brosa, USA; C. torosa, UK) and from collections of the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC (C. mexicana). We digitized valve outlines in lateral view to obtain measures of size (valve area) and shape (elongation, measured as length to height ratio), and obtained several dimensions from two components of the hemipenis: the muscular basal capsule, which functions as a sperm pump, and the section that includes the intromittent organ (terminal extension). In addition to the assessment of this primary sexual trait, we also quantified two dimensions of the male secondary sexual trait-where the transformed right walking leg functions as a clasping organ during mating. We also measured linear dimensions from four limbs as indicators of overall (soft-part) body size, and assessed allometry of the soft anatomy. We observed significant correlations in males between valve size, but not elongation, and distinct structural parts of the hemipenis, even after accounting for their shared correlation with overall body size. We also found weak but significant positive correlation between valve elongation and the degree of sexual dimorphism of the walking leg, but only in C. torosa. The correlation between the hemipenis parts, especially basal capsule size and male valve size dimorphism suggests that sexual selection on sperm size, quantity, and/or efficiency of transfer may drive sexual size dimorphism in these species, although we cannot exclude other aspects of sexual and natural selection.

Journal Title

Plos One