Analysis of skull size, fur color, and cranial phene FFCI has been performed in 57 sable population groups inhabiting the Russian part of the species range. Sample average character values have been matched to geographic coordinates, annual average air temperature, and elevation a.s.l. of the corresponding locality. Statistically significant correlations have been revealed, namely, direct correlations of skull size with geographic latitude and of fur color and FFCI phene with longitude and elevation a.s.l., and inverse correlations of this phene and fur color with temperature and latitude, and of skull size with longitude. The strength of these correlations in southern and northern populations of the species is different. As a rule, congruence is observed in the geographic variation of phenotypic characters: an increase in skull size is usually accompanied by statistically significant lightening of the fur color and decrease in FFCI phene frequency. Therefore, this regularity may be considered a species-specific feature. Supposedly, the observed pattern of phenotypic variation within the range represents the process of formation of the morphological appearance of populations in the course of postglacial radiation, i.e., reflects the phylogeography of the species.
Russian Journal of Ecology – Springer Journals
Published: May 28, 2015
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