The wing shape and size morphology of populations of the medically important phlebotomine sand fly, Phlebotomus papatasi, were examined in two endemic (south of the Atlas Mountains) and nonendemic (north of the Atlas Mountains) foci of cutaneaous leishmaniasis by using geometric morphometrics in Morocco. Although it is present in all of Morocco, P. papatasi is the main vector of Leishmania major in only southern part of the Atlas Mountains. There are four major mountain ranges that serve as geographical barriers for species distribution in the study area and at least four gaps were recognized among these barriers. We found statistically significant differences in wing shape morphology between southern and northern populations. Analysis clearly recognized two main groups of populations on both sides of the mountains. The graphical depiction of Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and Canonical Variates Analysis (CVA) confirmed our morphometric study suggesting that the difference in wing morphology between the populations indicates that the population of P. papatasi shows phenotypic plasticity in the study area. According to centroid size analyses, which were used as measures of wing size differences among different sites, the north population of P. papatasi had relatively larger wings than the south population.
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Vol. 37 • No. 1