Patterns of morphometric variation in the alpine newt (Mesotriton alpestris) at the southern limit of its distribution: environmental correlates


Correspondence: Konstantinos Sotiropoulos, Section of Zoology-Marine Biology, Department of Biology, University of Athens, Panepistimioupolis, 157 84 Athens, Greece. Email:


We applied multivariate analyses to an array of body measures of alpine newt specimens derived from 11 local populations in Greece to describe, analyse and detect patterns and putative causes of within-population and among-population morphometric variation. The observed morphometric variation was partitioned into several independently varying aspects of the external phenotype, frequently following variation patterns in different environmental factors. The size and features of the aquatic habitat were found to affect body size, while altitude was found to affect head-shape variation in both sexes. At the intra-population level, variation in generalized body size and shape was found to be significantly lower when competitive newt species were present in the habitat, indicating stabilizing selection towards a decrease in inter-specific competition. No clear discrimination on body size and shape proportions was detected between the two genetic lineages examined, implying ecogenetic or environmentally induced variation rather than phylogeny.