Body size variation in the sexually dimorphic scaphopod Rhabdus rectius (Carpenter, 1864) (Dentaliida: Rhabdidae)

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Hart, M. W., and M. J. Wonham. 2018. Body size variation in the sexually dimorphic scaphopod Rhabdus rectius (Carpenter, 1864) (Dentaliida: Rhabdidae). Molluscan Research.

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Sexual conflict
Sex ratio
Sperm competition

Male-biased sexual size dimorphism typically evolves via sexual selection for larger males that are favoured by choosy females or are more successful in mate competition with other males. Among marine invertebrates that broadcast their gametes into the ocean for fertilisation, this form of sexual size dimorphism is rare because such species lack direct interactions among males or between the sexes. However, the broadcast-spawning tusk shell Rhabdus rectius was recently reported to show strong male-biased sexual size dimorphism. That pattern might imply interesting and undiscovered sexual selection in this species. We found instead that the distribution of body size variation (weight, shell length) was similar between males and females of R. rectius, and mean sizes were not different between the sexes. However, we noted a male-biased sex ratio (~1:1.3) in our large sample of individuals. Many live scaphopods (and several dead shells) showed partial or complete boreholes drilled by predatory gastropods. Boreholes were observed on males and females in similar proportions. We collected scaphopods along with multiple individuals of one likely scaphopod predator, the small moon snail Euspira pallida, and in the lab we observed successful attacks by moon snails on tusk shells.


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