Morphing of the phylogeographic lineages of the Balkan alpine newts (Ichthyosaura alpestris, Caudata, Salamandridae): In situ morphological diversification
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Numerous alpine newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris) populations from the Balkans, representing all the previously established phylogeographic lineages, were studied for variations in various morphological characteristics (body size and shape, skull qualitative traits and number of trunk vertebrae). Here, we present a decoupling of morphological and mtDNA phylogeographic substructuring in the alpine newt on the Balkan Peninsula. In sharp contrast to other European newts (Triturus spp., Lissotriton spp.), the vast majority of morphological variation in the alpine newt is concentrated at the population level indicating an in situ morphological diversification. We found that the rate of morphological change is similar to the rate of mtDNA change. We hypothesize that the alpine newts are characterized by non-adaptive morphological evolution. (C) 2011 Academie des sciences. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.