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Initial Investigations of the cranial size and shape of adult Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra) in Great Britain

Farnell, Damian J. J., Khor, Chern, Nishio Ayre, Wayne, Doyle, Zoe and Chadwick, Elizabeth 2020. Initial Investigations of the cranial size and shape of adult Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra) in Great Britain. Journal of Imaging 6 (10) , 106. 10.3390/jimaging6100106

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Three-dimensional (3D) surface scans were carried out in order to determine the shapes of the upper sections of (skeletal) crania of adult Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra) from Great Britain. Landmark points were placed on these shapes using a graphical user interface (GUI) and distance measurements (i.e., the length, height, and width of the crania) were found by using the landmark points. Male otters had significantly larger skulls than females (P < 0.001). Differences in size also occurred by geographical area in Great Britain (P < 0.05). Multilevel Principal Components Analysis (mPCA) indicated that sex and geographical area explained 31.1% and 9.6% of shape variation in “unscaled” shape data and that they explained 17.2% and 9.7% of variation in “scaled” data. The first mode of variation at level 1 (sex) correctly reflected size changes between males and females for “unscaled” shape data. Modes at level 2 (geographical area) also showed possible changes in size and shape. Clustering by sex and geographical area was observed in standardized component scores. Such clustering in a cranial shape by geographical area might reflect genetic differences in otter populations in Great Britain, although other potentially confounding factors (e.g., population age-structure, diet, etc.) might also drive regional differences. This work provides a successful first test of the effectiveness of 3D surface scans and multivariate methods, such as mPCA, to study the cranial morphology of otters.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Dentistry
Publisher: MDPI
ISSN: 2313-433X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 October 2020
Date of Acceptance: 4 October 2020
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2020 15:30

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