Morphological Variations in the Common Lizard, Lacerta (Zootoca) vivipara

Cl. P. Guillaume, B. Heulin, I. Y. Pavlinov, D. V. Semenov, A. Bea, N. Vogrin, Y. Surget-Groba


Knowledge on variations in the reproductive modes, karyotypes, and mtDNA sequences of Lacerta (Zootoca) vivipara made headway but the morphological differences between any forms or populations remain unclear. That is why we studied different patterns of morphological variability using nine biometrics and 10 meristic variables on 242 common lizards: 119 oviparous (French, Spanish, and Slovenian), 114 viviparous (French, Bulgarian, and Russian), and nine hybrids. Our analyses confirm, for each population, the existence of a clear sexual dimorphism. Observed differences between reproductive strains (oviparous vs. viviparous) could not be connected immediately with the reproductive mode. Results of comparison between regions correspond to the geographical origin of the samples. We observe three clusters: western (Pyrenees and France), Slovenian, and eastern (Bulgaria, Russia, and Siberia). Comparisons of samples defined by their karyotypes are very similar. L. (Z.) v. carniolica subspecies is different for a majority of the studied variables. Our results show the special interest of the Russian samples but do not support the validity of the sachalinensis subspecies. The absence of clear relation between morphological and genetic structure of the species reveals that samples of the «complex» of common lizards are very closely related and have likely relatively recently diverged.


variability; common lizard; Lacerta (Zootoca) vivipara; viviparity; oviparity; morphometry

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