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Image analysis of the ventral colour pattern discriminates between Spectacled salamanders, Salamandrina perspicillata and S. terdigitata (Amphibia, Salamandridae)

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In the present study, we applied statistical methods to quantitative image analysis of the persistent and individual ventral colour pattern of Salamandrina salamanders, in order to discriminate between individuals of the two species belonging to this genus. Pictures of 238 individuals from three populations of S. perspicillata and pictures of 95 S. terdigitata from two populations were analysed. Partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLSDA) classified 98.78% of individuals into the correct species. PLSDA reaches lower percentages of correct classification when applied to discriminate individuals from different populations of the same species (74.14% for S. perspicillata, 78.26% for S. terdigitata). An ANOVA analysis of colour abundances in different body sectors reveals significant differences between species. The results show that colour pattern has a specific basis, the most discriminant areas being the head and the pectoral girdle. We discuss these results in the light of the proposed evolutionary scenarios of the species, and suggest that ventral colour patterns were driven by founder effect.

Affiliations: 1: Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e dell'Uomo, Università “La Sapienza”, viale dell'Università 32, 00185 Roma, Italy, Division of Evolutionary Biology, Institute of Zoology, University of Braunschweig, Spielmannstr. 8, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany;, Email:; 2: CRA-ING Agricultural Engineering Research Unit of the Agriculture Research Council, via della Pascolare 16, 00016 Monterotondo, Roma, Italy; 3: Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e dell'Uomo, Università “La Sapienza”, viale dell'Università 32, 00185 Roma, Italy


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