Two slow worm species are distributed at the southernmost part of the Balkan Peninsula: Anguiscephallonica, an endemic of the Peloponnese and the islands Zakynthos, Ithaki and Kephallonia, and A. graeca. Here, we investigate the intraspecific genetic diversity of A. cephallonica from the Peloponnese and Kephallonia and analyse A. graeca, from the northern Peloponnese, where it is found in sympatry with A. cephallonica. MtDNA and nDNA phylogenetic analyses confirm the genetic similarity of Peloponnesian and Kephallonian populations of A. cephallonica and reveal significant mtDNA genetic variation within it, probably related to the occurrence of multiple subrefugia in the Peloponnese. Peloponnesian A. graeca populations are genetically similar to non-Peloponnesian conspecifics implying recent dispersal to the Peloponnese. In contrast to the genetic markers, morphological characteristics (such as the number of mid-body scale-rows) failed to distinguish between Peloponnesian A. cephallonica and A. graeca. Although the former species is believed to be well-differentiated from its congeneric taxa, a thorough morphological study is needed.
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