Recent colonization of ecologically distinct areas in North America by the house finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) was accompanied by strong population divergence in sexual size dimorphism. Here we examined whether this divergence was produced by population differences in local selection pressures acting on each sex. In a long-term study of recently established populations in Alabama, Michigan, and Montana, we examined three selection episodes for each sex: selection for pairing success, overwinter survival, and within-season fecundity. Populations varied in intensity of these selection episodes, the contribution of each episode to the net selection, and in the targets of selection. Direction and intensity of selection strongly differed between sexes, and different selection episodes often favored opposite changes in morphological traits. In each population, current net selection for sexual dimorphism was highly concordant with observed sexual dimorphism—in each population, selection for dimorphism was the strongest on the most dimorphic traits. Strong directional selection on sexually dimorphic traits, and similar intensities of selection in both sexes, suggest that in each of the recently established populations, both males and females are far from their local fitness optimum, and that sexual dimorphism has arisen from adaptive responses in both sexes. Population differences in patterns of selection on dimorphism, combined with both low levels of ontogenetic integration in heritable sexually dimorphic traits and sexual dimorphism in growth patterns, may account for the close correspondence between dimorphism in selection and observed dimorphism in morphology across house finch populations.
Editor: H. Lisle Gibbs