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First evidence of an altitudinal variation in the brain size of triturus alpestris alpestris amphibia caudata salamandridae


, : First evidence of an altitudinal variation in the brain size of triturus alpestris alpestris amphibia caudata salamandridae. Acta Zoologica (Stockholm) 66(2): 89-96

This study deals with geographical variations in brain-body weight relationships in the alpine newt, Triturus alpestris alpestris. According to the canonical axis, C.A., the mean allometry in this species is 0.473 .+-. 0.03; an allometry value of 0.5 is considered to be characteristic of Caudata. No significant difference was observed between the four reduced major axes (R.M.A.) of lowland animal samples (mean value of the pooled samples. C.A. = 0.469 .+-. 0.210). In contrast, between the mountain samples a significant difference exists, the R.M.A. in the sample from l'Alpe d'Huez (Isere, France) being Yugoslavia. In spite of this difference, their encephalisation index (Ie) did not differ significantly, having on average a value of 118.18 .+-. 8.5, against .**GRAPHIC**. = 93.8 .+-. 8.0 for lowland samples. A significant difference in encephalisation index between mountain and lowland alpine newts thus exists. This is probably the first observation in vertebrates of an encephalisation index increased with altitude. A biological hypothesis is proposed to explain this peculiar observation.

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