Sexual dimorphism in wing beat frequency in relation to eye span in stalk-eyed flies (Diopsidae)

Jerry F. Husak, Gal Ribak, Gerald S. Wilkinson, John G. Swallow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although male ornaments may provide benefits to individuals bearing them, such structures may also entail fitness costs. Selection should favour aspects of the phenotype that act to reduce such costs, yet such compensatory traits are often ignored in studies of sexual selection. If a male ornament increases predation risk via reduced locomotor performance, then there may be selection for changes in morphological traits to compensate for behavioural or biomechanical changes in how individuals use their morphology (or both). We took a comparative approach aiming to test whether changes in wing beat frequency are evolutionarily correlated with increases in male ornamentation across stalk-eyed fly species. Previous studies have shown that increased male eye span is evolutionarily correlated with increased wing size; thus, we tested whether there is additional compensation via increases in size-adjusted wing beat frequency. The results obtained revealed that relative wing beat frequency is negatively related to relative eye span in males, and sexual dimorphism in wing beat frequency is negatively related to dimorphism in eye span. These findings, in addition to our finding that eye span dimorphism is positively related to aspect ratio dimorphism, suggest that male stalk-eyed flies compensate primarily by increasing wing size and shape, which may then have resulted in the subsequent evolutionary reduction in wing beat frequency. Thus, exaggerated ornaments can result in evolutionary modifications in wing morphology, which in turn lead to adjustments in flapping kinematics, illustrating the tight envelope of trade-offs when compensating for exaggerated ornaments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)670-679
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Compensation
  • Flight
  • Locomotion
  • Sexual selection

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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