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Morphological Variation in Brown Frogs from the Caucasus and the Taxonomy of the Rana macrocnemis Group
David N. Tarkhnishvili, J. W. Arntzen and Roger S. Thorpe
Vol. 55, No. 3 (Sep., 1999), pp. 406-417
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3893235
Page Count: 12
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Multivariate analysis of body proportions, skin texture, and coloration characteristics of brown frogs (Rana macrocnemis and R. camerani) from 14 Georgian populations confirms the existence of two, geographically distinct groups of populations. Frogs in the first group (R. macronemis) are characterized by a smooth skin, a pale spotted pattern, absence of a mid-dorsal stripe, and a small inner metatarsal tubercle. Frogs in the second group (known as R. camerani) possess a rugose skin, a conspicuous pattern of dorsal spots, a mid-dorsal stripe with contrasting borders, and a large metatarsal tubercle. The first group occurs in the uplands of the Great Caucasus and other forested areas while the second group occurs in the treeless uplands of the Near East. A stepped cline exists between them, with parallel variation in eight morphological characters. Other characters analyzed vary independently of the cline. Fully diagnostic (fixed) morphological characters separating the groups were not observed. Some characters previously used for taxonomic purposes are shown to be associated with local ecological conditions. We conclude that R. macrocnemis is a single, though polytypic, species composed of two interbreeding evolutionary lineages.
Herpetologica © 1999 Herpetologists' League