Sexual dimorphism in the skull geometry of newt species of Ichthyosaura, Triturus and Lissotriton (Salamandridae, Caudata, Amphibia)
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In this study, we applied geometric morphometrics to explore variations in the level and pattern of sexual size dimorphism (SSD) and sexual shape dimorphism (SShD) of the ventral cranium in three different Modern Eurasian newt taxa (Ichthyosaura alpestris, Triturus species group and Lissotriton vulgaris). The ventral cranium is the part of the skull that is more directly related to foraging and feeding. Our results indicate that the level and pattern of sexual dimorphism in the ventral cranium differ among Modern Eurasian newt taxa. Regarding sexual dimorphism in skull size, Ichthyosaura alpestris and Triturus species show female-biased patterns (females are larger than males), whereas Lissotriton vulgaris appears to be non-dimorphic in skull size. In I. alpestris and Triturus species, SShD is mostly absent, whereas in L. vulgaris, SShD is more pronounced. A high level of variation between populations in both SSD and SShD indicates that local conditions may have a profound effect on the magnitude and direction of sexual dimorphism. The significant sexual differences in ventral cranium size and shape indicate possible subtle intersexual differences in ecological demands due to diet specialisation, in spite of similar general ecological settings.