Morphometric characteristics of Alpine salamanders: a support for subspecies validation and conservation?: Supplementary material

The subspecies concept is not only useful to assess the evolutionary history of species and therefore describe their evolutionary potential, but it also has corollaries for defining conservation units and their management. Within Alpine salamanders,<b> </b>the subspecies status of <i>Salamandra atra</i> <i>prenjensis</i>, isolated in the Dinarides from its nominal subspecies <i>Salamandra atra atra</i> that occurs in the Alps, has been under debate. To remediate this fuzzy taxonomy, the present study investigates 14 morphological traits of Alpine salamanders originating from Austria and from Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H). Multivariate analyses support a geographical structuring of morphological variation and the differentiation between the Dinaric (B&H) and Alpine (Austrian) populations. Within populations, a different correlation pattern among traits is registered, reflecting the distinct genetic architecture of multivariate phenotypes. This morphometric study supports recent molecular evidences of a strong differentiation between the Dinaric and Alpine populations and pleads in favour of the separate subspecies status, although a wider sampling of other populations and the inclusion of additional characters would be necessary to reinforce this conclusion. The recognition of <i>Salamandra atra prenjensis</i> as a distinct subspecies would highly contribute to the better conservation of this emblematic salamander.