Estimating population differentiation between isolated root vole (Microtus oeconomus) populations in the Netherlands using geometric morphometrics
We investigated morphological differentiation in threatened populations of the root vole subspecies Microtus oeconomus arenicola, measured by using geometric morphometrics on skulls recovered from owl pellets. Using populations from Finland as a reference, we compared measures of morphological differentiation to levels of genetic differentiation reported in literature for the same populations. We found that the degree of morphometric population differentiation was generally lower than the degree of genetic differentiation, yet it revealed broadly similar patterns of geographic isolation. This suggests that skull shape is conserved in isolated root vole populations, and that geometric morphometric measurements from skeletal parts recovered from owl pellets may provide a cost-effective method to monitor population subdivision.