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A quantitative reassessment of morphology-based taxonomic schemes for Turkish tortoises (Testudo graeca)

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In the last decade, Asian populations of Testudo graeca were split into as many as 10 species based on morphology and morphometry and then subsequently synonymized based on genetic evidence. We generate new morphometric data for six of these disputed species from Turkey, a major center of morphological and genetic diversity for Asian T. graeca. We test the concordance of our data with previous morphological assignments. Our morphometric data and analyses do not support all of the results of previous morphometric studies. Instead we find that putatively named taxa from the Mediterranean coast (“antakyensis”, “anamurensis”, and “terrestris”) are not morphometrically distinct. On the other hand, some inland populations from eastern Turkey (“armeniaca” and “perses”) are morphometrically distinct as previously claimed. Tortoise populations from northern and southern Turkey, which may correspond to the ibera and terrestris mt clades, also appear to be morphometrically distinct. In this respect, the morphometric data reflects the emerging genetic pattern, although the picture is complicated by a lack of genetic sampling within Turkey and morphometric studies outside of Turkey.

Affiliations: 1: Adnan Menderes University, Faculty of Science and Arts, Department of Biology, 09010 Aydın, Turkey;, Email:; 2: Adnan Menderes University, Faculty of Science and Arts, Department of Biology, 09010 Aydın, Turkey; 3: Biodiversity Synthesis Center, Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60657, USA, Department of Herpetology, California Academy of Sciences, 55 concourse Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA, Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA; 4: Ege University, Faculty of Fisheries, Izmir, Turkey


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