Geometric morphometrics of mandibular shape in the dwarf fat-tailed jerboa: Relevancy for trinomial taxonomy

Boris Kryštufek, Georgy Shenbrot, Tina Klenovšek, Franc Janžekovič

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We explore the pattern of spatial variation in mandibular morphology in relation to subspecific taxonomy in the dwarf fat-tailed jerboa, Pygeretmus pumilio. The unguided k-means clustering on mandible shape scores, partitioned populations into two clusters, corresponding to western and eastern populations. These clusters nearly perfectly matched the two subspecies groups (pumilio and potanini groups) recognized in an independent study based on the morphology of the glans penis. The mandible, although under environmental pressure, has retained a sufficient amount of taxonomic information to retrieve grouping closely resembling the one derived from a sexually selective trait. We recommend morphometrics of the mandible as a routine step in addressing variations in mammals at species and subspecies levels. We also stress the advantage of unsupervised k-clustering in testing null expectation in subspecies taxonomies. However, the power of this approach has its limitations and in our analysis, the k-clustering failed to retrieve subspecies in the potanini group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1363-1372
Number of pages10
JournalZoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • Pygeretmus pumilio
  • discriminant function analysis
  • geographical variation
  • k-means clustering
  • longitudinal cline
  • shape analysis
  • subspecies


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