Variation in the cranium shape of wall lizards (Podarcis spp.): effects of phylogenetic constraints, allometric constraints and ecology
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We used geometric morphometrics to explore the influence of phylogenetic and allometric constraints as well as ecology on variation in cranium shape in five species of monophyletic, morphologically similar Podarcis lizards (Podarcis erhardii, Podarcis melisellensis, Podarcis muralis, Podarcis sicula and Podarcis taurica). These species belong to different clades, they differ in their habitat preferences and can be classified into two distinct morphotypes: saxicolous and terrestrial. We found (i) no phylogenetic signal in cranium shape, (ii) diverging allometric slopes among species, and (iii) a significant effect of habitat on cranium shape. The saxicolous species (P. erhardii and P. muralis) had crania with elongated parietals, elongated cranium bases, shortened anterior parts of the dorsal cranium, reduced chambers of the jaw adductor muscles and larger subocular foramina. These cranial features are adaptations that compensate for a flattened cranium, dwelling on vertical surfaces and seeking refuge in crevices. The crania of the terrestrial species (P. melisellensis, P. sicula and P. taurica) tended to be more elongate and robust, with enlarged chambers of the jaw adductor muscle, reduced skull bases and shortened parietals. Terrestrial species exhibited more variation in cranium shape than saxicolous species. Our study suggests that shape variation in Podarcis sp. lizards is largely influenced by ecology, which likely affects species-specific patterns of static allometry. (c) 2012 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.