The scincid lizard Plestiodon latiscutatus is found in the Izu Islands and Izu Peninsula of central Japan, whereas P. japonicus, a close relative, is found over the entire main island group of Japan, except the Izu Peninsula. The precise area of occupancy of these species was surveyed around the Izu Peninsula. Species identification was made through comparison of mitochondrial DNA partial sequences of specimens from the Izu Peninsula with those from the other regions, since morphological differences between these species have not yet been characterized. This study determined that these species are deeply diverged from each other in mitochondrial DNA sequence, and that the ranges of these species overlap only in a narrow zone. The results imply that gene flow between these species, if any, is restricted to a low level, without physical barriers. The boundary between the geographic ranges of these species was established as occurring along the lower Fuji River, Mt. Fuji, and the Sakawa River. This region is concordant with that of the old sea that is assumed to have separated the Izu Peninsula from other parts of the Japanese main island group until the middle Pleistocene. This pattern suggests that P. latiscutatus and P. japonicus were differentiated allopatrically before the connection of land areas of the Izu Peninsula and Honshu, the main island of Japan, and come into secondary contact through this connection. Thus, the species boundary is likely to have been maintained in situ, without physical barriers, since the secondary contact in the middle Pleistocene.
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