Patterns of morphological variation in the Schlegel’s Japanese gecko (Gekko japonicus) across populations in China, Japan, and Korea

Dae-in KIM, Il-kook PARK, Hidetoshi OTA, Jonathan J. FONG, Jong-sun KIM, Yong-pu ZHANG, Shu-ran LI, Woo-jin CHOI, Daesik PARK*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Studies of morphological variation within and among populations provide an opportunity to understand local adaptation and potential patterns of gene flow. To study the evolutionary divergence patterns of Schlegel’s Japanese gecko (Gekko japonicus) across its distribution, we analyzed data for 15 morphological characters of 324 individuals across 11 populations (2 in China, 4 in Japan, and 5 in Korea).

Among-population morphological variation was smaller than within-population variation, which was primarily explained by variation in axilla-groin length, number of infralabials, number of scansors on toe IV, and head-related variables such as head height and width. The population discrimination power was 32.4% and in cluster analysis, populations from the three countries tended to intermix in two major groups.

Our results indicate that morphological differentiation among the studied populations is scarce, suggesting short history for some populations after their establishment, frequent migration of individuals among the populations, and/or local morphological differentiation in similar urban habitats. Nevertheless, we detected interesting phenetic patterns that may predict consistent linkage of particular populations that are independent of national borders. Additional sampling across the range and inclusion of genetic data could give further clue for the historical relationship among Chinese, Japanese, and Korean populations of G. japonicus.
Original languageEnglish
Article number34
JournalJournal of Ecology and Environment
Issue number1
Early online date17 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

We thank Drs. Robert R. Kaplan and Yeon-Sook Jeong for their comments on the manuscript and helps in early statistical analysis and Dr. Il-Hun Kim and Hwan-Jin Jang for their help in field surveys.

This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (2016R1D1A1B03931085) to D Park and Natural Sciences Foundation of China (31170376) to YP Zhang.

Ethics approval and consent to participate
This research was conducted within the guidelines and approval of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Kangwon National University (KW-161128-2).

DIK, IKP, and DP designed the study, carried out the field study, performed the analysis, and wrote the manuscript. HO, JSK, YPZ, SRL, and WJC carried out the field study and reviewed the manuscript. JJF conceived the study and reviewed/edited the manuscript. DIK and IKP made equal contributions to this study. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


  • Lizard
  • Morphological variation
  • Multivariate analysis
  • Schlegel's Japanese gecko


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