The Ryukyu-Taiwan region is an island arch with intervening waters of varying distances and depths. This study examines the geographic genetic structure of two sympatric sea kraits, Laticauda laticaudata and L. semifasciata, in the region, to infer factors affecting the extent of dispersal and other biogeographical traits of these amphibious reptiles. Sequence analyses of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene revealed four and 16 haplotypes for L. laticaudata (136 individuals) and L. semifasciata (177 individuals), respectively. For both species, population pairwise FST analyses revealed significant genetic differentiations among islands and island groups, which are separated by deep straits, suggesting that deep waters serve as obstacles for dispersal in both species. Significant genetic differentiation was detected even among islands of the same basin in L. laticaudata, but not in L. semifasciata, and the isolation by distance analyses revealed no significant correlation between geographic and genetic distances in the former species. These results further suggest that L. laticaudata has stronger site fidelity or degree of philopatry than L. semifasciata. Based on the geographic genetic patterns, the historical biogeography of the two species in the Ryukyu-Taiwan region is also discussed.
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Vol. 30 • No. 8