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Article

Phenotypic Variation in Endangered Texas Salamanders: Application of Model-Based Clustering for Identifying Species and Hybrids

1
Department of Biological Sciences, Tarleton State University, Box T-0100, Stephenville, TX 76402, USA
2
Watershed Protection Department, City of Austin, TX 78704, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2020, 12(8), 297; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12080297
Received: 29 June 2020 / Revised: 18 July 2020 / Accepted: 27 July 2020 / Published: 29 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Biodiversity Conservation)
The endangered Barton Springs and Austin blind salamanders (Eurycea sosorum and E. waterlooensis, respectively) are micro-endemics to the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer and its contributing zone in Central Texas. Although vertically segregated within the aquifer system, both species are known from the same spring outflows and occasionally hybridize. We used geometric morphometrics and model-based clustering applied to a large sample of standardized salamander photographs to evaluate the potential for objective phenotypic assignment to either species, as well as putative hybrids. In addition to characterizing variation in head shape, our analyses inferred sets of clusters corresponding to ontogenetic series in both species but did not infer any distinct hybrid clusters. Eurycea sosorum and E. waterlooensis have distinctive head size to trunk length allometries, which contributed to the effective clustering of species, even at small body sizes. We also observed subtle, but significant, microgeographic variation in E. sosorum, suggesting the possibility of population substructuring, phenotypic plasticity, or undetected hybridization. View Full-Text
Keywords: Eurycea sosorum; Eurycea waterlooensis; geometric morphometrics; groundwater; Edwards Aquifer; Caudata; Plethodontidae Eurycea sosorum; Eurycea waterlooensis; geometric morphometrics; groundwater; Edwards Aquifer; Caudata; Plethodontidae
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MDPI and ACS Style

Strom, D.M.; Bendik, N.F.; Chamberlain, D.A.; Watson, J.A.; Meik, J.M. Phenotypic Variation in Endangered Texas Salamanders: Application of Model-Based Clustering for Identifying Species and Hybrids. Diversity 2020, 12, 297. https://doi.org/10.3390/d12080297

AMA Style

Strom DM, Bendik NF, Chamberlain DA, Watson JA, Meik JM. Phenotypic Variation in Endangered Texas Salamanders: Application of Model-Based Clustering for Identifying Species and Hybrids. Diversity. 2020; 12(8):297. https://doi.org/10.3390/d12080297

Chicago/Turabian Style

Strom, Donella M., Nathan F. Bendik, Dee A. Chamberlain, Jessica A. Watson, and Jesse M. Meik 2020. "Phenotypic Variation in Endangered Texas Salamanders: Application of Model-Based Clustering for Identifying Species and Hybrids" Diversity 12, no. 8: 297. https://doi.org/10.3390/d12080297

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