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Linear versus geometric morphometric approaches for the analysis of head shape dimorphism in lizards



Differences between the sexes may arise because of differences in reproductive strategy, with females investing more in traits related to reproductive output and males investing more in traits related to resource holding capacity and territory defence. Sexual dimorphism is widespread in lizards and in many species males and females also differ in head shape. Males typically have bigger heads than females resulting in intersexual differences in bite force. Whereas most studies documenting differences in head dimensions between sexes use linear dimensions, the use of geometric morphometrics has been advocated as more appropriate to characterize such differences. This method may allow the characterization of local shape differences that may have functional consequences, and provides unbiased indicators of shape. Here, we explore whether the two approaches provide similar results in an analyses of head shape in Tupinambis merianae. The Argentine black and white tegu differs dramatically in body size, head size, and bite force between the sexes. However, whether the intersexual differences in bite force are simply the result of differences in head size or whether more subtle modifications (e.g., in muscle insertion areas) are involved remains currently unknown. Based on the crania and mandibles of 19 lizards with known bite force, we show intersexual differences in the shape of the cranium and mandible using both linear and geometric morphometric approaches. Although both types of analyses showed generally similar results for the mandible, this was not the case for the cranium. Geometric morphometric approaches provided better insights into the underlying functional relationships between the cranium and the jaw musculature, as illustrated by shape differences in muscle insertion areas not detected using linear morphometric data. J. Morphol. 275:1016–1026, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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