Different paths to sexual size dimorphism in two praying mantids, Pseudomantis albofimbriata and Hierodula majuscula

Louise E. Allen, Katherine L. Barry, Gregory I. Holwell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


Sexual size dimorphism (SSD) is widespread among diverse animal taxa and has attracted the attention of evolutionary biologists for over a century. SSD is likely to be adaptive and the result of divergent selection on different size optima for males and females, given their different roles in reproduction. The developmental trajectory leading to SSD may help us to understand how selection acts on male and female size. Here, we describe the growth and development of two Australian praying mantids, Pseudomantis albofimbriata and Hierodula majuscula including the number of moults, time to adulthood, size at each moult, and the degree of SSD. While both species exhibit the common pattern of female-biased SSD, the number of moults required for individuals to reach adulthood differed between males and females and between species. Despite their larger adult size, P. albofimbriata females require fewer moults and less time than males to reach adulthood, but are significantly larger than males from the second instar onwards. In contrast, H. majuscula males reached adulthood in fewer moults, and less time than females, however males and females did not differ in size until females went through their final moult into adulthood. H. majuscula also required more time and more moults to reach adulthood than P. albofimbriata. We discuss these different developmental pathways in light of the existing knowledge of reproductive biology for each species. We also suggest that these differences may relate to the different phenologies that occur in strongly seasonal temperate environments compared with those in the tropics. This study provides evidence that SSD can result from two different patterns of growth and development in closely related species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-233
Number of pages7
JournalInsect Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • Developmental trajectories
  • Mantodea
  • Sexual size dimorphism

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