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Keywords:

  • Thrichomys;
  • two-block partial least squares;
  • geometric morphometrics;
  • skull;
  • mandible;
  • geographic variation;
  • environmental gradient

Abstract

The pattern of correlations between geographic–environmental variables and geometric shape descriptors for the skull and mandible of Thrichomys apereoides was studied by recently developed combinations of geometry and multivariate statistical techniques. Environmental variables were obtained for each locality: altitude, mean temperature, rainfall, human population density, and vegetation type. The three views of the skull (dorsal, lateral and ventral) and the mandible were significantly associated with a latitudinal environmental gradient along the diagonal of open areas (caatinga and cerrado) throughout the range sampled. The populations from xeric environments presented relatively larger coronoid processes, larger jugals and wider snouts (related to the activity of jaw closing muscles). A correlation of patterns of shape variation from data sets of different skull views showed that lateral skull shape is the most informative view. Further studies are necessary to separate completely the contribution of genetic and environmental components to skull and mandible shape divergence among populations of T. apereoides.