Hynobius naevius, distributed on western Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu Islands of Japan, includes two genetically distinct groups (Groups A and B) that have never been delimited morphologically. Using specimens from the entire species range, we investigated the possibility of distinguishing these groups morphologically. Multivariate analyses of morphometric characters resulted in recognition of two groups that corresponded well to the two genetic groups. One (Group A) was characterized by larger body, compressed tail, shallower vomerine tooth series, bluish- or reddish-purple ground color, and pale-white lateral markings. In contrast, another (Group B) was characterized by smaller body, cylindrical tail, longer vomerine tooth series, reddish-brown ground color, and white lateral markings. Group A was composed of populations from the Chugoku District of Honshu and northern Kyushu, and could not be divided into subgroups, while Group B encompassed populations from the Chubu and Kinki Districts of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, and was subdivided into three local subgroups that are geographically separated by marine straits. Morphometric differentiation in Group A is presumed to have been less affected by genetic factors than by other factors, such as ecological relationships with other, coexisting species. Differentiation in Group B is assumed to have been enhanced not only by genetic but also by climatological factors.
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