Bigger Males, Bigger Females? Pigeons’ Sexual Size Dimorphism

Main Article Content

P. M. Parés- Casanova
A. Kabir


Sexual dimorphism, defined as phenotypic differences between males and females, is a common phenomenon in animals. In this line, Rensch’s rule states that sexual size dimorphism increases with increasing body size when the male is the larger sex and decreases with increasing average body size when the female is the larger sex. Domesticated animals offer excellent opportunities for testing predictions of functional explanations of Rensch’s theory. Pigeon breeds encounters many different functional purposes and selective constraints, which could influence strongly their morphology. The aim of this paper is to examine, for first time, Rensch’s rule among domestic pigeons. It was compiled a database of 12 quantitative traits (body weight, body height, beak thickness, beak length, neck length, neck thickness, wing length, rump width, tail length, tarsus length, tarsus thickness and middle toe length) for males and females of 11 different domestic pigeon breeds: Bangladesh Indigenous, Racing Homer, Turkish Tumbler, Indian Lotan, Kokah, Mookee, Indian Fantail, Bokhara Trumpeter, Bombai, Lahore and Hungarian Giant House; Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) was also considered as wild relative for comparative purposes. Comparative results between males and females showed that only body weight, wing length and neck thickness were consistent with Rensch’s rule. The rest of trait did not present correlations. Among domestic pigeons, there can appear different expressions of dimorphism according to each trait, so it must be considered that Rensch’s rule vary when considering other traits than body weight.

Columba livia, dove, monogamous, Rensch’s rule, rock pigeon

Article Details

How to Cite
Casanova, P. M. P.-, & Kabir, A. (2020). Bigger Males, Bigger Females? Pigeons’ Sexual Size Dimorphism. Annual Research & Review in Biology, 35(10), 20-24.
Original Research Article


Polák J, Frynta D. Patterns of sexual size dimorphism in cattle breeds support Rensch’s rule. Evol. Ecol. 2010;24(5): 1255–1266. DOI: 10.1007/s10682-010-9354-9.

Sambraus HH, A Colour Atlas of Livestock Breeds. Stuttgart: Wolfe Publishing Ltd.; 1989.

Bidau CJ, Martinez PA. Sexual size dimorphism and Rensch’s rule in Canidae. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 2016;119:816–830.

Owens IPF, Hartley IR. Sexual dimorphism in birds: why are there so many different forms of dimorphism? Proc. R. Soc. B Biol. Sci. 1998;265:397–407.

Frynta D, Baudyšová J, Hradcová P, Faltusová K, Kratochvíl L. Allometry of Sexual Size Dimorphism in Domestic Dog. PLoS One. 2012;7(9):5–10. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046125

Björklund M. A phylogenetic interpretation of sexual dimorphism in body size and ornament in relation to mating system in birds. J. Evol. Biol., 2002;3(3–4):171–183. DOI:10.1046/j.1420-9101.1990.3030171.x.

Shapiro MD, Domyan ET. Domestic pigeons. Curr. Biol. 2013;23(8):1–5. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.01.063

Johnston RF. Variation in size and shape in pigeons, Columba livia. Willson Bull. 1990;102(2):213–225.

Sándor Piross I, Harnos A, Rózsa L. Rensch’s rule in avian lice: contradictory allometric trends for sexual size dimorphism. Sci. Rep. 2019;9(1):1–9. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-44370-5

Dale J, Dunn PO, Figuerola J, Lislevand T, Székely T, Whittingham LA. Sexual selection explains Rensch’s rule of allometry for sexual size dimorphism. Proc. R. Soc. B Biol. Sci. 2007;274(1628): 2971–2979. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2007.1043.

Székely T, Freckleton RP, Reynolds JD, Sexual selection explains Rensch’s rule of size dimorphism in shorebirds. PNAS. 2004;101(33):12224–12227.

Hammer Ø, Harper DAT, Ryan PD. PAST v. 2.17c. Palaeontol. Electron., 2001;4(1): 1–229.

Parés-Casanova PM. No ecogeographical trends in body structure for Zebu (Bos indicus). Glob. J. Multidiscip. Appl. Sci. 2013;1–2:37–40.

Parés-Casanova PM. Discrete sexual size dimorphism in domestic sheep. Ann. Biol. Res. 2015;6(10):43–48.

Bidau CJ, Martínez PA. Cats and dogs cross the line: Domestic breeds follow Rensch’s rule, their wild relatives do not. Vavilovskii Zhurnal Genet. Selektsii. 2017; 21(4):443–451. DOI: 10.18699/VJ17.263.

Parés-Casanova PM. Sexual size dimorphism in swine denies Rensch’s rule. Asian J. Agric. Food Sci. 2013;1(4):112–118.

Remeš V, Székely T. Domestic chickens defy Rensch’s rule: Sexual size dimorphism in chicken breeds. J. Evol. Biol. 2010;23(12):2754–2759. DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2010.02126.x

Darwin C. La variación en los animales y las plantas domesticados, 2nd Ed. London: John Murray; 1875.

Ashraful MK. Expression of the emotions in pigeons. J. Ethol. Anim. Sci. 2019;2(1).