Skin Pigmentation of Stellagama stellio (L. 1758) (Reptilia: Agamidae) Depends on Climate Conditions and Altitude
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We studied skin pigmentation characteristics of the starred agama, Stellagama stellio, at different altitudes and climate conditions from Anatolia, Turkey. The epidermis was composed of stratum corneum and stratum basale, while the dermis occupied a much larger area. Melanophores were only found in the dermis and melanin pigments exhibited different distribution patterns in cells. Our results indicated that the skin pigmentation of S. stellio varied among populations depending on the altitude and climatic conditions. At higher altitudes, the melanophores in dorsal skin were larger and its melanin pigments aggregated in melanophores. The aggregation of the melanin pigments indicated the skin had lighter colour. The melanin pigments tended to be dispersed at lower altitudes. The skin of populations inhabiting hot climates and lower altitudes was more pigmented, while populations from steppe and higher altitudes exhibit lower pigmentation when comparing melanophores areas.