Ecomorphology of tortoises (Testudo graeca complex) from the Araks River Valley

Marine Arakelyan, Oğuz Türkozan, Nasim Hezaveh, James F. Parham


We described the high diversity of morphotypes of spur-thighed tortoises (the Testudo graeca complex) that inhabit the Araks River Valley. The habitat conditions of tortoises was highly correlated with their external morphology, where the variety of environmental conditions along the Araks River Valley affects the morphological plasticity of tortoises. We speculate that the diversity of external morphology of tortoises might have been promoted by admixed gene expression combined with a high environmental flexibility of the shell in different habitat conditions, as well as by geographical isolation of T. graeca in fragmented areas of distribution in the Ararat Valley.


habitat differences; variability; shell morphology; spur-thighed tortoises

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