Macroecology of sexual selection: a predictive conceptual framework for large-scale variation in reproductive traits

Glauco Machado*, Bruno A. Buzatto, Solimary Garcia-Hernandez, Rogelio Macias-Ordonez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
124 Downloads (Pure)


Abiotic factors exert direct and indirect influences on behavioral, morphological, and life-history traits. Because some of these traits are related to reproduction, there is a causal link between climatic conditions and the expression of reproductive traits. This link allows us to generate predictions on how reproductive traits vary in large geographic scales. Here we formalize this macroecological framework, present some general predictions, and explore empirical examples using harvestmen as study organisms. Our results show that the length of breeding season in harvestmen is primarily influenced by the number of warm months and that precipitation plays a secondary role in modulating the period devoted to reproduction. Moreover, we show that the probability of resource defense polygyny increases with longer breeding seasons and that the presence of this type of mating system positively affects the magnitude of sexual dimorphism in harvestmen. Finally, the presence of postovipositional parental care is also influenced by the length of breeding season but not by actual evapotranspiration, which is our proxy for the intensity of biotic interactions. We argue that the macroecological framework proposed here may be a fruitful field of investigation, with important implications for our understanding of sexual selection and the evolution of reproductive traits in both animals and plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S8-S27
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2016 by University of Chicago Press. Originally published in The American Naturalist, Vol. 188, No. S1, pp. S8-S27.


  • biotic interactions
  • life-history trade-offs
  • mating system
  • parental care
  • precipitation
  • sexual dimorphism
  • temperature


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