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The relationship between size-free body shape and choice of retreat for Western Australian Ctenophorus (Agamidae) dragon lizards

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We examined the relationship between body shape and choice of retreat for males of 17 species of Western Australian Ctenophorus dragon lizards, accounting for body size by using Somers' (1986, 1989) size-free principal component analysis. Ctenophorus species group strongly in size-free morphometric space (shape) based on the nature of their natural retreat (i.e. burrows, no burrows and rocks). Those species that dig their own burrow as a retreat have short tails and hind limbs, whereas that those do not generally retreat to a burrow have longer lower hind limbs and hind feet. Three of the four species that retreat to crevices or under rocks have a dorso-ventrally flattened head and body, and relatively long upper fore-limbs. The fourth rock-retreat species (C. caudicinctus) does not have a dorso-ventrally flattened head and body; its body shape is intermediate between those species in the three ecological groups.


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