The British Herpetological Society


The Herpetological Journal

The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.

The 2014 impact factor of the Herpetological Journal (released end June 2015) is 0.90. 

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Folder Volume 16, Number 1, January 2006

pdf 01. A new species of Mabuya (Reptilia, Squamata, Scincidae) from the Caribbean Island of San Andrés, with a new interpretation of nuchal scales: A character of taxonomic importance


Open Access

Authors: Miralles, Aurélien

Abstract: A new species of Mabuya lizard from the isolated Caribbean island of San Andrés is described. This species is closely related to Mabuya pergravis Barbour, 1921, another poorly known species from Providencia Island, 87 km NNE of San Andrés. Unfortunately this new species, known from a single specimen, is now probably extinct. It differs from M. pergravis in many morphological characters such as a smaller size and very different patterns of coloration, but most importantly in the presence of a very high number of nuchal scales. A new definition of this last character, which is of systematic importance in the genus Mabuya, is also given and discussed.


pdf 02. Sexual dimorphism in two species of European plethodontid salamanders, genus Speleomantes


Open Access

Authors: Salvidio, Sebastiano & Bruce, Richard C.

Abstract: Speleomantes ambrosii and S. strinatii are morphologically similar but genetically well differentiated plethodontids inhabiting north-western Italy. Ten morphological characters were used to assess the amount of intraspecific sexual dimorphism in both species. On average adult females were 10% and 7% longer than males in S. ambrosii and S. strinatii respectively. ANCOVA showed that in both species there were no differences in body proportions between males and females of equal size. Multivariate analyses of size-adjusted morphological characters showed that species differed significantly in body shape, while sexes within species did not show significant overall body shape differences. The observed pattern of sexual size and shape dimorphism was similar in both species of Speleomantes and is discussed in relation to the reproductive biology of plethodontids.


pdf 03. Seasonal and hourly patterns of reproductive activity in Scinax trapicheiroi (Anura, Hylidae), Rio de Janeiro State, South-eastern Brazil


Open Access

pp. 15-20
Authors: Van Sluys, Monique; Rico, Miguel & Rocha, Carlos F. D.

Abstract: We examine the temporal pattern of reproduction of the hylid Scinax trapicheiroi and evaluate how environmental factors affect the calling activity of males and the reproductive activity of females. Fieldwork was carried out at a small stream inside the Atlantic Rainforest of Ilha Grande, an island off the coast of south-eastern Brazil. The study area was sampled monthly from October 2000 to September 2001. Periods for quantifying males' calling activity were alternated with periods of observing female presence. Calling activity occurred mainly during the night. Males called during all months of the year, but activity was higher during the warm wet season. The number of calling males positively influenced the number of calls emitted per male. Fewer females appeared at the stream to reproduce than males. The presence of females was affected only by rainfall during the previous day.


pdf 04. Chorus organization of the leaf-frog Phyllomedusa rohdei (Anura, Hylidae)


Open Access

pp. 21-27
Authors: Wogel, Henrique; Abrunhosa, Patrícia A. & Pombal, José P.

Abstract: We studied the chorus organization of a population of prolonged-breeding Phyllomedusa rohdei at a temporary pond in Saquarema, State of Rio de Janeiro, south-eastern Brazil. Males, females and amplectant pairs were more abundant when the pond filled up for the first time (in December 1999). We found a positive correlation between the number of males and females in the chorus, but no significant correlation between operational sex ratio and the number of males present. The number of nights that males participated in a breeding chorus was shortened. The ability to remain in breeding aggregations was not correlated with the snout-vent length of males, but it was correlated with the initial body weight. Males showed high site fidelity and some turnover between consecutive nights. Larger males predominated in the chorus when there was water in the pond, while smaller males predominated when the pond was dry. The spatial distribution of males in the pond was clustered; aggregations occurred in places with adequate oviposition sites for this species. Phyllomedusa rohdei was not considered a lek species mainly because male territories enclose oviposition sites.


pdf 05. Changes in community composition, habitats and abundance of snakes over 10+ years in a protected area in Italy: conservation implications


Open Access

pp. 29-36
Authors: Filippi, Ernesto & Luiselli, Luca

Abstract: The snake fauna of different habitat types was studied in a protected Mediterranean area of central Italy ('Canale Monterano' in the Tolfa Mountains, province of Rome) during the period from August 2002 to September 2003. The collected data were compared to those collected at the same study area over 10 years before, and published by Luiselli & Rugiero (1990). We captured eight different species (seven colubrids and one viper), six of which were observed in the earlier study. During both surveys, the most common species was Coluber viridiflavus, followed by Vipera aspis. In the 2002-2003 survey there was a slight increase in the value of the species diversity index but a remarkable increase in the value of species dominance index (due especially to the proportional higher abundance of C. viridiflavus). We used multivariate statistics, Pianka and Czechanowski overlap indices and Monte Carlo simulations on the habitat use states during the two survey periods to document whether the various species modified their habitat preferences between surveys. In terms of habitat preferences, all these indicators showed that there were substantial interspecific differences but that the species-specific preferences remained the same over the two survey periods. There was a decrease in the abundance of Elaphe longissima and, to a lesser degree, V. aspis, caused especially by clearing brush at an archaeological site where these snakes were very common over 10 years ago. This is potentially relevant in conservation terms, as in places such as Europe, where many of the protected areas are set aside for archaeological or historical (as opposed to biological) reasons, management to maintain sites or improve access may be detrimental to native species. The various habitats differed in their conservation value for snakes. Appropriate management of the 'dry-stone walls and oak forests' habitat-mosaic appeared especially important for the conservation of this snake community, and the same may well be true for many other areas in Mediterranean central Italy.


pdf 06. Ecology of the colubrid snake Pseudablabes agassizii in south-eastern South America


Open Access

pp. 37-45
Authors: Marques, Otavio A. V.; Sawaya, Ricardo J.; Stender-Oliveira, Fernanda & Franca, Frederico G. R.

Abstract: The colubrid Pseudablabes agassizii is a small philodryadine snake distributed in open areas in south-eastern South America. We provide information on morphology, habitat use, diel activity, diet, feeding behaviour, reproduction, and seasonal activity of this species, based on dissection of 146 specimens combined with field and captive observations. Pseudablabes agassizii is smaller than any other species in the Philodryadini. Females attain larger body size than males. Sexual dimorphism was also recorded for stoutness and tail length, but not for head length. Apparently, P. agassizii forages during the day, mainly for resting spiders in subterranean and other day-time retreats. Lycosid and other araneomorph spiders were the staple food item, but mygalomorph spiders, scorpions, and orthopteran insects were also eaten. Large spiders were subdued by venom injection, whereas smaller ones were usually swallowed alive. Ingestion of lizards is infrequent and probably represents a vestigial trait. Absence of sexual dimorphism in relative head length may be related to ingestion of small prey. The reproductive cycle of females seems to be highly seasonal with vitellogenesis occurring from the onset to the middle of the rainy season, when females are more active. Recruitment of newborns takes place at the end of the rainy season. Males show increase in testes volume in the second half of the rainy season, and mating probably occurs at the end of rainy season, when adult males are more active. At least in south-eastern Brazil, P. agassizii is a habitat specialist, sensitive to habitat alteration, and thus is an indicator species of environmental quality. Due to the rapid destruction of its main habitat, the Cerrado, the conservation status of this snake should be regarded as threatened.


pdf 07. Interpopulation differences in water-seeking behaviour in the green toad Bufo viridis


Open Access

pp. 47-53
Authors: Hoffman, Joy

Abstract: Many species of terrestrial amphibians can absorb water by pressing a highly vascularised region of the ventral abdominal skin against a moist surface. The degree of dehydration needed in order to evoke this response varies from species to species, suggesting that they make different use of the opportunity to use surface water for hydration. Most of the species that have been studied are each confined to a fairly narrow ecological niche, and the differences in their responses make sense in the light of their natural history. Consequently, it was of interest to compare populations of a single species living in different regions to see whether differences in the response to the presence of moisture are characteristics of the species or are related to local conditions. The steep north-south gradient of increasing aridity in Israel and the presence of populations of the toad Bufo viridis throughout the country provided an opportunity to make such a comparison. The frequency of this water seeking response (WR) in fully hydrated toads and the sensitivity of WR to raised plasma osmolality were determined in laboratory-acclimated samples collected from three sites in Israel, one from north-west Italy and one from Kyrgyzstan. These sites differed in altitude and climatic characteristics (mean annual temperature and total annual rainfall). A negative correlation was found between the frequency of WR and the annual rainfall at the sites where samples were collected, suggesting that WR is not a fixed characteristic of this species. The observed differences between populations are discussed with reference to evolved adaptations to aridity and the past evolutionary radiations of the species.


pdf 08. Pivotal temperature for green sea turtles, Chelonia mydas, nesting in Suriname


Open Access

pp. 55-61
Authors: Godfrey, Matthew H. & Mrosovsky, N.

Abstract: Sexual differentiation of green sea turtles is directed by incubation temperature. The constant incubation temperature that produces both sexes is known as the pivotal temperature, with warmer temperature producing more or all females and cooler temperatures producing more or all males. Here we present data on a laboratory experiment designed to evaluate the pivotal temperature of green turtles from Suriname. The best estimates for the pivotal temperature were 29.4 or 29.5 °C. These values are similar to a previous estimate of pivotal temperature from this green turtle population. When both datasets are combined, the pivotal temperature is estimated to be 29.2 or 29.3 °C. These values are within the range of limited information available from other green turtle populations. Nevertheless, more data from pivotal temperature experiments are needed for a greater understanding of how incubation temperature impacts local nesting populations.


pdf 09. Influence of small-scale fires on the populations of three lizard species in Rome


Open Access

pp. 63-68
Authors: Rugiero, Lorenzo & Luiselli, Luca

Abstract: The effect of small summer fires on three species of Mediterranean lizards (the lacertids Podarcis muralis and Lacerta bilineata, and the scincid Chalcides chalcides) were studied at five burnt transects and eight unburnt control transects in urban green areas of Rome. Overall, the fire had different effects on the three species at the local level of the single transects. Lacerta bilineata was not affected by fire treatment. Podarcis muralis showed a significant increase in numbers in two of five burnt transects. Chalcides chalcides declined after fire in all transects. The potential ecological causes for the observed patterns are discussed.


pdf 10. Review of the reintroduction programme of the mugger crocodile Crocodylus palustris in Neyyar reservoir, India


Open Access

pp. 69-76
Authors: Jayson, E. A.; Sivaperuman, C. & Padmanabhan, P.

Abstract: Human-crocodile conflicts created by Mugger crocodiles Crocodylus palustris were studied 18 years after a reintroduction to the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala, India. Twenty-nine Mugger crocodiles were reintroduced into the reservoir in the year 1983 and crocodile attacks on livestock were reported from 1985. During the initial period of the study, 21 to 25 Mugger crocodiles were estimated but only 10 to 16 crocodiles were recorded towards the end of the period as nine were removed from the reservoir to reduce the conflict. Fishes provided sufficient prey, but food in the form of large mammals was inadequate. Twenty-nine crocodile attacks on humans were reported prior to the study and six occurred later, including two fatalities. The attacks occurred over 26 km of shoreline and followed previous patterns of attack behaviour in crocodiles. Larger crocodiles were more often involved with attacks than small crocodiles. About 2808 houses exist in a narrow belt near the lake shore. As local people utilised the reservoir for various purposes they did not support the conservation of crocodiles in the present circumstances. The case study indicated the failure of the reintroduction programme of Mugger crocodile in the Neyyar Reservoir.


pdf 11. Presence and absence of the cement gland in foamnesting leptodactylids (Anura: Leptodactylidae): implications for the transition to terrestrial development


Open Access

pp. 77-81
Authors: Downie, J. R. & Nokhbatolfoghahai, M.

Abstract: Reproduction and early development are compared in three foam-nesting leptodactylids: Leptodactylus fuscus, L. validus and Physalaemus pustulosus. Physalaemus pustulosus and L. validus produce floating foam nests containing large numbers of small eggs which hatch early and soon leave the nest as larvae, attaching to solid surfaces by their cement glands until the stage of independent feeding. Leptodactylus fuscus foam nests are deposited in terrestrial burrows and contain small numbers of large eggs which hatch early, but remain in the foam nest until the yolk is resorbed and the larva has developed its tail for effective locomotion. The lack of a cement gland in L. fuscus suggests that the post-hatching period in the nest is a normal part of development. L. fuscus eggs and hatchlings transferred prematurely to water displayed low survival. The results are discussed in the context of evolutionary reproductive transitions within the leptodactylids.


pdf 12. Molecular phylogeny of Brazilian Mabuya (Reptilia, Squamata, Scincidae) of the agilis/caissara/heathi complex


Open Access

pp. 83-91
Authors: Vrcibradic, Davor; Mausfeld-Lafdhiya, Patrick & Rocha, Carlos Frederico D.

Abstract: Phylogenetic relationships among neotropical skinks of the genus Mabuya are currently unknown. Three species, Mabuya agilis, M. caissara and M. heathi are morphologically very similar and appear to be closely related, but their relationships have never been studied. Here we examine their phylogenetic relationships using partial sequences of the mitochondrial 12S and 16S rRNA genes. Nine populations of M. agilis, four of M. heathi and one of M. caissara were sampled, as well as one population from four other South American Mabuya species. Results of both maximum likelihood and maximum parsimony analyses reveal a strongly supported monophyletic group comprising all populations of agilis, caissara and heathi, but relationships of this clade with the other Mabuya species were not resolved. Genetic distances among members of the agilis/caissara/heathi clade ranged from 0.0% to 2.6%, whereas distances between its members and the other four congeners ranged from 6.0% to 8.6%. Genetic distances and the internal tree structure of the agilis/caissara/heathi clade are somehow consistent with the geographic location of the sampled populations. Based on our results, we suggest that this complex may represent a single species, though more data are needed to verify this.


pdf 13. Genetic divergence in the endangered frog Insuetophrynus acarpicus (Anura: Leptodactylidae)


Open Access

pp. 93-96
Authors: Méndez, Marco A.; Torres-Pérez, Fernando; Correa, Claudio; Soto, Eduardo R.; Nuñez, José J.; Veloso, Alberto & Armesto, Juana

Abstract: Insuetophrynus acarpicus is a poorly known frog restricted to the temperate forests of the coastal range of Chile (39° 25' S, 73° 10' W). Until recently, this species was known only from one type locality since its original description in 1970. However, in 2002 two new localities were reported, extending its distribution range to about 40 km2. In order to evaluate genetic divergence, provide a preliminary evaluation of the genetic diversity of this species and the phylogenetic relationships among individuals from the three known populations, we analyzed the nucleotide variation of a fragment of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome b. We sampled just two or four individuals per population of this endangered frog. We found a low nucleotide divergence among populations suggesting a genetic homogeneity across the entire range. This highlights the need for further studies to define the conservation status of this endangered frog.