Dear Morphometricians,

we wish to inform you about a publication on skull modularity and integration 
across ontogenetic stages in a long-lived vole with well-defined age stages 
conducted on wild and laboratory bred specimens from two phylogenetic groups:

Modularity and cranial integration across ontogenetic stages in Martino's vole, 
Dinaromys bogdanovi


Abstract: We explored modularity and morphological integration of the ventral 
cranium during postnatal ontogeny in Martino's vole (Dinaromys bogdanovi). Two 
closely related phylogenetic groups, originating from the Central and 
Southeastern part of the species range in the western Balkans, were considered. 
As expected, both phylogroups had similar patterns of ontogenetic changes in 
cranial size and shape variation, modularity and integration. At the level of 
within individual variation, the hypothesis that the viscerocranial and 
neurocranial regions are separate modules was rejected, indicating that the 
hypothesized modules are not developmental, but rather functional. At the level 
of among individual variation, the viscerocranium and the neurocranium could 
not be recognized as separate modules at the juvenile stage. The strength of 
association between the hypothesized modules becomes lower with age which 
finally results in a clear 2-module organization of the ventral cranium at the 
adult stage. On the other hand, patterns of morphological integration for the 
cranium as a whole, the viscerocranium and the neurocranium stay consistent 
across ontogenetic stages. The developmental mechanism producing integration of 
the cranium as a whole, as well as integration of the neurocranium, varies 
throughout postnatal ontogeny. In contrast, we detected the ontogenetic 
stability of the mechanism responsible for covariation of viscerocranial traits 
which could provide ongoing flexibility of the viscerocranial covariance 
structure for high functional demands during lifetime. Findings from our study 
most likely support the idea of the 'palimpsest-like' model of covariance 
structure. Moreover, similarity or dissimilarity in the patterns of within and 
among individual variation in different sets of analyzed traits and comparisons 
across ontogenetic stages demonstrate how studies on small mammals other than 
mice can give new insights into postnatal cranial development.

Kind regards,

Tina Klenovšek and Vida Jojić


doc. dr. Tina Klenovšek
Univerza v Mariboru | University of Maribor
Fakulteta za naravoslovje in matematiko
Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Koroška cesta 160, 2000 Maribor, Slovenija
T: (00 386) 041 808 366

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