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 17, Number 2, April 2007

pdf 01. Systematics of the Podarcis hispanicus-complex (Sauria,Lacertidae) I: Redefinition, morphology and distribution of the nominotypical taxon


Open Access

pp. 69-80
Authors: Geniez, Philippe; Cluchier, Alexandre; Sá-Sousa, Paulo; Guillaume, Claude P. & Crochet, Pierre-André

Abstract: Recent genetic works have suggested that the Iberian wall lizard Podarcis hispanicus (Steindachner, 1870) sensu lato may in fact be a species complex, yet many of its taxa have not been formally described. We redefine the nominotypical Podarcis [hispanicus] hispanicus sensu stricto using univariate and multivariate morphological analyses and pinpoint its geographical distribution. Podarcis [hispanicus] hispanicus is a small wall lizard characterized by a flattened head and body, the general lack of a masseteric shield, a striped dorsal pattern, the frequent bifurcation of the anterior part of the vertebral strip, the belly almost always white and the tail intense blue in young specimens. Its distribution is restricted to the Spanish Levant (provinces of Alicante, Murcia and Almeria).


pdf 02. Ecological observations on the leaf-litter frog Adenomera marmorata in an Atlantic rainforest area of southeastern Brazil


Open Access

pp. 81-85
Authors: Almeida-Gomes, Mauricio; Van Sluys, Monique & Duarte Rocha, Carlos Frederico

Abstract: We analysed the diet, pattern dispersion, calling activity and microhabitat use of the leptodactylid frog Adenomera marmorata at an Atlantic rainforest site on Ilha Grande, in southeastern Brazil. Adenomera marmorata is endemic to the Brazilian Atlantic rainforest biome, occurring in the leaf litter of forests from Rio de Janeiro state to Santa Catarina state, and this is the first ecological study of the species. It has a clumped pattern of dispersion along the forest floor. Calling activity extended from dusk to dawn, although on rainy days some individuals remained active during the daylight period. The individuals collected for diet analysis were most frequently found on the leaf-litter surface and under the leaf litter of the forest floor. Of the six potential microhabitat categories we recorded, A. marmorata used only two (leaf litter and fallen branch). We conclude that in the Atlantic forest of Ilha Grande, A. marmorata possesses crepuscular–nocturnal calling activity, and is exclusively associated with the leaf litter of the forest floor where it feeds predominantly on isopods, ants and insect larvae.


pdf 03. Clutches, tadpoles and advertisement calls of Synapturanus mirandaribeiroi and S. cf. salseri in Central Amazonia, Brazil


Open Access

pp. 86-91
Authors: Menin, M.; Rodrigues, D.J. & Lima, A.P.

Abstract: Species of the genus Synapturanus are small, burrowing frogs that inhabit the leaf litter of the rainforest floor. This genus is distributed in the northern region of South America and contains three species: Synapturanus mirandaribeiroi, S. salseri and S. rabus. In this study we describe the clutch, tadpole and advertisement call of two sympatric species (S. cf. salseri and S. mirandaribeiroi) that occur in Central Amazonia, Brazil. Both lay terrestrial eggs and their tadpoles hatch at a late developmental stage (approximately stage 42). Clutches and tadpoles of the two species are similar in size and appearance. The shape and coloration of newly metamorphosed individuals are similar to those of adults. The advertisement call of S. cf. salseri is a long, single, clearly pulsed, relatively pure tone between 900 and 1290 Hz, while that of S. mirandaribeiroi is a single, brief, nearly pure tone between 1094 and 1710 Hz. Advertisement calls of Synapturanus spp. are similar to those of Myersiella microps, and may be homologues. Both genera inhabit the forest floor, although their distributions are allopatric. Similarities in habitat and reproductive mode among Synapturanus spp. and Myersiella microps further corroborate the hypothesis of a close phylogenetic relationship between these genera.


pdf 04. Female reproductive phenology in a population of Hermann's tortoise Testudo hermanni hermanni in Corsica


Open Access

pp. 92-96
Authors: Bertolero, Albert; Nougarède, Jean-Pierre & Cheylan, Marc

Abstract: We used radiography over two breeding seasons to investigate female reproductive phenology in a Corsican population of Hermann's tortoise. Wild females were kept in semi-captivity in similar conditions to the wild. The main purpose of the study was to determine the length of the breeding season for each female, the laying period, and the approximate length of the inter-clutch interval and clutch retention time. Clutches were laid only in May and June, and in both years the monthly proportions were similar. In 1998 the length of the breeding season (mean±SE = 44.7±3.3 days) was greater than in 1999 (33.1±2.6 days), but we found no annual differences in the date of first and second clutches. There were no differences in the inter-clutch interval between individual females or between years. Clutch retention time varied among clutches of the same year, but not between years for the same clutch order. When considering the order in which the clutches were laid, we observed that the first clutches were concentrated in May, whereas the second and third clutches were concentrated in June. In both years, only the females that laid their first clutches in May were able to lay a second or even a third clutch in June. Bigger females tended to lay first clutches earlier in the breeding season than did the smaller ones. The differences observed in the length of the breeding season between years may be explained by the annual differences in the frequency of females that produced one, two or three clutches, since we found no annual differences in the date of first and second clutches, in the inter-clutch interval or in the clutch retention time (for the same order of clutches).


pdf 05. A new method for quantitative pattern analysis applied to two European Bombina species


Open Access

pp. 97-103
Authors: Vörös, Judit; Szalay, Ferenc & Barabás, Lilla

Abstract: This paper describes a new computer-aided digital image analysing method with self-developed modifications of public domain software (Scione Image 4.02b) for quantification of geometric and colour-defined characters of patches. We demonstrate the method on Bombina bombina and B. variegata and their natural hybrids, separating the two species and defining intermediate specimens according to their belly colour pattern. Belly images of 20 B. bombina, 20 B. variegata and five of their hybrids were processed and analysed, using four patch size- and shape-related characters (patch density, area ratio, ratio of mean patch area and mean patch perimeter, circularity) and three colour-related characters (red, green and blue components). Descriptive statistics (Student's t-test) and canonical variate analysis were used to discriminate among the three groups of specimens, and the results were compared with results based on independent genetic data. The two species significantly differed in all the geometric and two of the colour characters, and were clearly separated by the multivariate analysis, while the hybrid specimens had intermediate features.


pdf 06. Reproductive biology and food habits of the swamp racer Mastigodryas bifossatus from southeastern South America


Open Access

pp. 104-109
Authors: Marques, Otavio A.V. & Muriel, Ana Paula

Abstract: The swamp racer Mastigodryas bifossatus is a large colubrid snake distributed mainly in open areas in South America. Dissection of 242 specimens provided data on body sizes, sexual size dimorphism, reproductive cycles and food habits of this species. Adult M. bifossatus average approximately 1100 mm in snout–vent length, with males and females attaining similar sizes. Reproductive cycles in females seem to be continuous, although oviductal eggs occur mainly from the beginning to the middle of the rainy season with peak recruitment at the end of the rainy season. Clutch size ranges from four to 24 and each newborn individual is about 300 mm SVL. Mastigodryas bifossatus is euryphagic, feeding mainly on frogs (44%) and mammals (32%). Lizards (16%), birds (4%) and snakes (4%) form the remaining prey. Relatively small prey (0.05–0.019) are ingested by adults, and juveniles eat mammals, which suggests that there is no ontogenetic shift in the diet of this snake. Swamp racers forage by day on the ground in open areas but may use arboreal substrates for sleeping or basking.


pdf 07. Impact of trawl fishery on marine turtles in the Gulf of Gabès, Tunisia


Open Access

pp. 110-114
Authors: Jribi, Imed; Bradai, Mohamed Nejmeddine & Bouain, Abderrhmen

Abstract: The aim of this study, carried out during 2001 and 2002, was to assess the interaction between turtles and bottom trawls in the Gulf of Gabès, which is considered an important wintering and foraging area for the loggerhead in the Mediterranean. Catch rates are estimated at 0.01142±0.00292 turtles/haul with a total catch of 5458±1652 turtles/year. However, the total mortality is low (182±55/year), probably due to the short haul duration. Captures occur mainly during winter, spring and summer, with significantly higher rates at depths of less than 50 m.


pdf 08. Distribution and status of the Seychelles frogs (Amphibia: Anura: Sooglossidae)


Open Access

pp. 115-122
Authors: Gerlach, Justin

Abstract: The distribution and population densities of the Sooglossidae are evaluated. This family of frogs is endemic to the Seychelles islands where four species are restricted to high forests on the islands of Mahé and Silhouette. New distribution data are presented and habitat preferences quantified. Previously Sooglossus thomasseti was considered to be restricted to moss forest; here it is shown that the species is found in boulder fields, with the highest population densities in the moss forest zone, but occurs down to 80 m above sea level. Sooglossus sechellensis is also largely associated with higher altitudes, but suitable microclimates may occur at 300 m a.s.l. Sooglossus pipilodryas is restricted to palm-rich habitat on Silhouette island. Sooglossus gardineri is the most widespread and tolerant species and the only one to occur in degraded habitats. Monitoring methods are evaluated, with direct estimation from quadrats being the preferred method. All four species are considered Vulnerable due to their restricted ranges; S. thomasseti and S. sechellensis may also be threatened by habitat loss.


pdf 09. The minimum size of leatherbacks at reproductive maturity, with a review of sizes for nesting females from the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Ocean basins


Open Access

pp. 123-128
Authors: Stewart, Kelly; Johnson, Chris & Godfrey, Matthew H.

Abstract: Although sea turtles are globally distributed, data are mainly collected on nesting beaches where researchers have access to adult females. Studies on general reproductive parameters (e.g. clutch size) and morphometrics (e.g. carapace length) are most common. Of the sea turtle species, leatherbacks appear to grow quickly to a large size and may reach sexual maturity faster than the hard-shelled sea turtles. Small reproductive female leatherbacks have been recorded on nesting beaches since the 1930s, although presently leatherbacks with <145 cm curved carapace length (CCL) are generally considered to be juveniles. We reviewed values from published literature to investigate the occurrence of small females, and added new empirical data from Florida. Reproductive females as small as 105–125 cm CCL have been observed at most leatherback nesting rookeries and their nests have produced viable hatchlings. We also summarized the sizes of nesting females from Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Ocean populations and found that size varies by location and population. We suggest that small mature female leatherbacks (<145 cm) should be considered when studying population dynamics and caution should be exercised if classification of stranded animals as adult or juvenile is based on size alone.


pdf 10. Growth marks in natterjack toad (Bufo calamita) bones: histological correlates of hibernation and aestivation periods


Open Access

pp. 129-137
Authors: Sinsch, Ulrich; Oromi, Neus & Sanuy, Delfi

Abstract: Skeletochronological assessment of the growth marks in the phalange bones of two natterjack populations (Bufo calamita) inhabiting northern Spain (Balaguer, Mas de Melons, Catalonia, 41°N) revealed that most individuals produced more than one line of arrested growth (LAG) per year, in contrast to conspecifics in other populations throughout the geographic range. Moreover, up to 19.2% of toads showed faint broad lines of reduced growth (annuli) in a given year. We developed a quantitative method based on the distinction between summer and winter growth periods in the surface area of periosteal bone produced to identify multiple LAG formation. Statistical evaluation of growth areas demonstrated that a precise distinction was feasible for individuals of a longevity up to five years. We related the number of LAGs per winter (one in 53.3% of 334 observations, two in 32.0%, three in 11.7% or four in 3.0%) to features of the local winter climate. The influence of climate (mainly temperature) accounted for 88.2% of total variation in the number of LAGs per year. Juveniles interrupted hibernation more frequently for winter growth periods than adults, indicating ontogenetic variation in hibernation behaviour. We also investigated the frequency of annuli generally produced during the summer growth period and thus representing histological traces of slowed growth during aestivation. There was no significant correlation between aestivation rates and local climate suggesting that neither ambient temperature nor moisture were key factors in inducing aestivation at the studied localities. In conclusion, the incidence and frequency of multiple growth marks per year represent informative histological correlates of local environmental impacts on life history.


pdf 11. Diversity and frequency of visual defensive behaviours in a population of Hypsiboas geographicus


Open Access

pp. 138-140
Authors: Angulo, Ariadne; Acosta, Andrés R. & Rueda-Almonacid, José Vicente

Abstract: Defensive behaviours against potential predators are a common and diverse survival mechanism employed by many amphibians. During a field course conducted in the vicinity of Madidi National Park, Bolivia, in April 2006, we observed several distinct defensive behaviours displayed by individuals of Hypsiboas geographicus. Here we assess the diversity of defensive behaviours displayed and quantify the frequency distribution of visual defensive behaviours across a sample of the population. We also discuss some of these behaviours in a phylogenetic context.