Welcome to three newly described Hynobius salamander species from the Korean Peninsula! In a collaborative study with Prof. Mi-Sook Min from Seoul National University, we resolved the taxonomic questions related to the morphology and taxonomy of all seven Hynobius clade from the Korean Peninsula, and officially described the three species that have been known but not named for a few years.
Morphological changes are common in populations of animals in response to environmental and evolutionary forces. This is the case for salamanders, which can adapt to most environments on earth. On the Korean Peninsula, Hynobius salamanders are widespread, with several species overlapping in distribution. In addition, while there are seven segregated clades based on mitochondrial DNA, only four of them have been described as segregated species and the three others are candidate species for which the species level of divergence has not been tested yet. Here we measured 329 individuals from all seven clades, in areas of range overlap or not, on islands and on the mainland (A on figure above), and tested for the species status of the three candidate species. Individuals on the mainland had a generally broader morphology than those on the islands (B on figure above), and individuals in the range overlap differed from the individuals from the same species that were not found in presence of another clade (C on figure above). Despite a significant impact of the island effect and the sympatric areas, all seven clades have significantly different morphologies, and we described Hynobius notialis, Hynobius geojeensis and Hynobius perplicatus.