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Cranial shape variation and molecular phylogenetic structure of crested newts (Triturus cristatus superspecies: Caudata, Salamandridae) in the Balkans

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In the present study, we investigated the degree of congruence between phylogeny, as inferred from mitochondrial (mt)DNA sequences, and cranium shape variation of crested newts (Triturus cristatus superspecies) in the Balkans. These newts belong to four phylogenetic clades defined by mtDNA analysis, and significantly differed in cranial shape. Allometry explained a high percentage of shape variation in crested newts. The clade-specific allometric slopes significantly diverged for both the ventral cranium and dorsal cranium, indicating that differences in shape between clades could not be a simple consequence of their difference in size. The analysis of hierarchical and spatial variation showed similarity in the patterns of global and spatially localized hierarchical variation of cranial shape. We also found significant congruence between the pattern of cranial shape variation and molecular phylogeny. The differences in morphology of Triturus dobrogicus in comparison to other crested newt clades, including marked differences in cranium shape, is discussed in the context of the evolution and ecology of crested newts. © 2008 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 95, 348–360.

Keywords: allometry; geometric morphometrics; phylogeny; skull

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Section of Zoology-Marine Biology, Department of Biology, University of Athens, 157 84, Panepistimioupolis, Athens, Greece 2: Institute for Biological Research ‘Siniša Stanković’, Bulevar despota Stefana 142, 11060 Belgrade, Serbia

Publication date: October 1, 2008


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