Subspeciation or none? The hardun in the Aegean (Reptilia: Sauria: Agamidae: Laudakia stellio)

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2005
Authors:Almog, A., Bonen, H., Herman, K., Werner, Y. L.
Journal:Journal of Natural HistoryJournal of Natural History
Date Published:2005///
Keywords:Aegean islands, Agama stellio, Anatolia, Asymmetry, Greece, Laudakia stellio, Seligmann effect, Sexual dimorphism, Subspeciation

A study aimed at testing the contested validity of the subspecies Laudakia stellio daani yielded novel insights into the essence of subspecies. We examined morphologically museum specimens from Greece, Aegean islands, and Anatolia (n = 118; not all could be used in all analyses). Beyond the conventional mensural, meristic and qualitative characters we quantified 14 coloration characters, thus totalling 34 characters (including sex). Biometry was statistically analysed within and between the two geographically defined presumed subspecies, L. s. daani and L. s. stellio. Excluding or including broken-tailed specimens changed the outcome of tests. Significant minor directional asymmetry occurred in one of four character-taxon combinations. Phenetic cluster analysis poorly separated the two presumed subspecies when all characters, including those with discordant variation, were included; after selection of characters, the separation improved. Some biometric characters distinguish the two presumed subspecies, confirming their validity. The associations of significant inter-character correlations differed between the two subspecies. Additionally, the two differed in parameters reflecting selection pressures and social structure: L. s. stellio is more colourful than L. s. daani; its sexual dimorphism is mainly chromatic, versus mensural in L. 5. daani; and its population seems to include many males with underdeveloped callous scales, presumably socially subordinate, versus very few in L. s. daani.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith