Relative tail length correlates with body condition in male but not in female crowned leafnose snakes (Lytorhynchus diadema)

Jaim Sivan, Shlomo Hadad, Itay Tesler, Avi Rosenstrauch, Abraham Allan Degen, Michael Kam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Reproductive success is the ultimate measure of individual quality; however, it is difficult to determine in free-living animals. Therefore, indirect measures that are related to reproduction are generally employed. In snakes, males typically possess longer tails than females and this sexual size dimorphism in tail length (TL) has generally been attributed to the importance of the tail in mating and reproduction. Thus, intra-sexual differences in tail length, specifically within males, were hypothesized to reflect individual quality. We used a body condition index (BCI) as a measure of quality in snakes and predicted that tail length would be correlated with BCI in males. We tested our prediction by determining BCI in the free-ranging adult male and female crowned leafnose snake (Lytorhynchus diadema), a colubrid species that inhabits mainly desert sand dunes. The relative TL was correlated positively and significantly to BCI in males (F1,131 = 11.05; r2 adj = 0.07; P < 0.01) but not in females, thus supporting our prediction. This is the first time that the relationship between TL and body condition was tested in a free-ranging species. In addition, sexual size dimorphism of TL increased intra-specifically with body size, which was also found in interspecific analyses following Rensch’s rule.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4130
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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