Morphological and functional analyses for investigation of sexually selected legs in the frog legged beetle Sagra femorata (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae)

Masako Katsuki, Kaoru Uesugi, Tomoyuki Yokoi, Takane Ozawa, Devin M. O'Brien, Douglas J. Emlen, Kensuke Okada, Yasukazu Okada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mate choice and male–male combat over successful mating often cause disproportionate exaggeration of male trait relative to body size. However, the exaggeration is often not the only trait involved with male–male combat and mate choice: suites of co-expressed traits may function together as a coordinated unit. When this occurs, dimorphism may be expected for these additional, non-exaggerated, structures. S. femorata males have disproportionately large hind-legs used in male–male combat over females. During the fights, fore- and mid-legs are used to keep males in positions where advantageous for leverage. Because use of the exaggerated hind-legs is coordinated with the other legs, they will coevolve as a functional unit. Here, we show that 1) S. femorata has sexual size differences in all three legs; 2) males show positive allometry in the relative sizes of all three legs; and 3) microstructures of tarsi on the fore- and mid-legs are also sexually dimorphic. Despite these differences in the tarsal microstructure, 4) adhesion forces of the tarsi had no sexual difference in flat surface. The microstructure would be specialized on attaching elytra surface. These results suggest that the three pairs of legs function together during fighting behavior, with hind-legs employed primarily for fighting, and the fore- and mid-legs functioning to grip females, keeping males positioned on the back of the female during combat.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101360
Pages (from-to)101360
JournalArthropod Structure and Development
StatePublished - May 2024


  • Adhesion force
  • Allometry
  • Exaggerated trait
  • Male–male combat
  • Microstructure
  • Weapon
  • Coleoptera/anatomy & histology
  • Extremities/anatomy & histology
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Male
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Animals
  • Female


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