Dimorphism in the hartebeest

Isabella Capellini*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Citations (Scopus)


Sexual selection often favours sexual size dimorphism (SSD) in body size and fighting structures, since large males with massive weaponry achieve high reproductive success. However, sexual selection may be opposed by natural selection. This chapter describes a test of this hypothesis based on comparisons of sexual dimorphism, mating systems (sexual selection), and environmental variables (natural selection) among subspecies of hartebeest - a group of African savannah antelopes. The potential for polygyny explains dimorphism in fighting structures across hartebeest subspecies although it does not predict dimorphism in body size, suggesting that sexual selection toward large dimorphism is opposed by natural selection for smaller size. In addition to sexual selection, SSD in hartebeest may be influenced by antipredator advantages of small and agile males, intra-sexual competition for food and/or mates among female hartebeest, and fecundity selection.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSex, Size and Gender Roles
Subtitle of host publicationEvolutionary Studies of Sexual Size Dimorphism
PublisherOxford University Press/UNESCO
ISBN (Electronic)9780191709036
ISBN (Print)9780199208784
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sep 2007


  • Antelope
  • Natural selection
  • Polygyny
  • Sexual selection
  • Sexual size dimorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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