Table of Contents
International Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 2012, Article ID 740605, 9 pages
Review Article

A Phenotypic Point of View of the Adaptive Radiation of Crested Newts (Triturus cristatus Superspecies, Caudata, Amphibia)

1Institute of Zoology, Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
2Department of Evolutionary Biology, Institute for Biological Research “Siniša Stanković”, University of Belgrade, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia

Received 12 July 2011; Revised 6 October 2011; Accepted 11 October 2011

Academic Editor: Kyoichi Sawamura

Copyright © 2012 Ana Ivanović et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The divergence in phenotype and habitat preference within the crested newt Triturus cristatus superspecies, examined across different ontogenetic stages, provides an excellent setting to explore the pattern of adaptive radiation. The crested newts form a well-supported monophyletic clade for which at least the full mitochondrial DNA phylogeny is resolved. Here we summarise studies that explored the variation in morphological (larval and adult body form, limb skeleton, and skull shape) and other phenotypic traits (early life history, developmental sequences, larval growth rate, and sexual dimorphism) to infer the magnitude and direction of evolutionary changes in crested newts. The phenotypic traits show a high level of concordance in the pattern of variation; there is a cline-like variation, from T. dobrogicus, via T. cristatus, T. carnifex, and T. macedonicus to the T. karelinii group. This pattern matches the cline of ecological preferences; T. dobrogicus is relatively aquatic, followed by T. cristatus. T. macedonicus, T. carnifex, and the T. karelinii group are relatively terrestrial. The observed pattern indicates that phenotypic diversification in crested newts emerged due to an evolutionary switch in ecological preferences. Furthermore, the pattern indicates that heterochronic changes, or changes in the timing and rate of development, underlie the observed phenotypic evolutionary diversification.