We used the stalk-eyed fly Cyrtodiopsis dalmanni to examine predictions made by condition-dependent handicap models of sexual selection. Condition was experimentally varied by manipulation of larval food availability. Cyrtodiopsis dalmanni is a highly dimorphic species exhibiting strong sexual selection, and the male sexual ornament (exaggerated eyespan) showed strong condition-dependent expression relative to the homologous trait in females and nonsexual traits. Male eyespan also showed a great increase in standardized variance under stress, unlike nonsexual traits. The inflated variance of the male ornament was primarily attributable to condition-dependent (but body-size-independent) increase in variance. Thus, evaluation of male eyespan allows females to gain additional information about male condition over and above that given by body size. These findings accord well with condition-dependent handicap models of sexual selection.
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Vol. 58 • No. 5