Craniometric variation in the Eurasian badger, Meles meles

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Abstract

A multivariate examination of cranial variation within and between European populations of Meles meles (L.) revealed that populations from Ireland, Great Britain, Norway, and the Slovak Republic could be differentiated both by cranial form and by the degree of sexual dimorphism exhibited. Irish material was characterized by low sexual dimorphism, particularly when compared to Slovak specimens. Badgers from the British Isles had larger skulls than other samples and were more similar to each other than they were to badgers from mainland Europe. Size played a greater role in differentiating samples of female badgers than it did in males. Significant variation occurred within the British Isles, with individual samples being highly differentiable. There was, however, little relationship between morphological similarity and geographic proximity. We contend that macrogeographical (between-country) variation in the species is primarily determined by historical factors and adaptation to current conditions, while microgeographic (within-country) variation is a result of selectively neutral processes.

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