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Intraspecific variation in morphology and sexual dimorphism in Liolaemus tenuis (Tropiduridae)

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Liolaemus tenuis is a widely distributed arboreal lizard species in central-southern Chile. Although two subspecies, L. t. tenuis and L. t. punctatissimus, have been described based on sexual dimorphism, their characteristic have not been accurately demarcated. Therefore, both traditional and geometric morphometrics were used to study the morphological variation of L. tenuis. Four specific questions were addressed: (1) Does population morphological variation occur along a latitudinal gradient, given its wide geographic distribution in a climactic gradient? (2) Does L. tenuis present sexual dimorphism? (3) In the case of dimorphism, what is the variation along a latitudinal gradient? (4) Are these subspecies morphologically distinguishable? The study was performed in a variety of locations, including the following six bioclimatic regions of Chile: arid mediterranean, semi-arid mediterranean, sub-humid mediterranean, humid mediterranean, per-humid mediterranean, and oceanic with mediterranean influence. Male and female individuals were measured and photographed. Our results suggest sexual dimorphism for all morphological variables analyzed. Geometric data indicate that the eye orbits of the males are more extended than those of the females; this is probably related to territorial defense and/or polygynic mating system. The traditional morphometric approach revealed a difference in individuals from the arid region, whereas the geometric approach revealed a difference in individuals from the oceanic region. Differences in the limits of their distribution ranges seem be related to local factors, such as topography and climatic conditions. Finally, is not possible to recognize distinct subspecies within L. tenuis, and our research concludes that the species consists of one homogenous identity.


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