The British Herpetological Society

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.

 ISSN 0268-0130

2021 Impact Factor from Clarivate for the Herpetological Journal is 1.194, an increase of 0.332 from 2020.

Volume 17, Number 4, October 2007 Volume 17, Number 4, October 2007

pdf 01. Phylogeography of the Russell's viper (Daboia russelii) complex in relation to variation in the colour pattern and symptoms of envenoming


Open Access

pp. 209-218
Authors: Thorpe, Roger S.; Pook, Catharine E. & Malhotra, Anita

Abstract: The Russell's viper complex has a patchy (relict) distribution over large areas of Asia from Pakistan to Taiwan and the Lesser Sunda islands. In many areas it is the primary cause of snakebite mortality, and hence a serious medical problem. A multigene mitochondrial gene tree, supported by multivariate morphometry and basic colour pattern, suggests a primary split in the organismal phylogeny giving distinct, diagnosable, eastern and western forms that we recognize as full species: Daboia russelii (west of the Bay of Bengal) and Daboia siamensis (east of the Bay of Bengal). The clinical symptoms of human envenoming show marked geographic variations that are broadly unrelated to the phylogeny. The molecular phylogeny, together with current distribution and fossil record, suggests cycles of extreme expansion and contraction for this complex. Further studies on venom variation, diet and local population phylogeny are required, but the local and regional variation in symptoms may be the result of fixation of venom genes during cyclical bottlenecks which could explain the haphazard, non-phylogenetic pattern of symptoms of envenomation in this species complex.


pdf 02. Geographic variation in reproductive output of female European whip snakes (Hierophis viridiflavus)


Open Access

pp. 219-224
Authors: Zuffi, Marco A.L; Fornasiero, Sara & Bonnet, Xavier

Abstract: In snakes, body size and reproductive output vary greatly among disjunct populations. Clutch size is notably influenced by food availability, thermal conditions and maternal body size. A comparison between three large-scale areas – north continental, south continental and island populations of European whip snakes – revealed significant variation in body size and reproductive output. More importantly, there was a geographical difference in the covariation between clutch size and maternal body size, two traits mechanistically linked as body size constrains clutch size. This suggests that clutch size can vary independently of maternal body size, a situation that provides opportunities to tease apart the contribution of phenotypic plasticity from local genetic adaptations in these two life-history traits.


pdf 03. Specialist or generalist? Feeding ecology of the Malagasy poison frog Mantella aurantiaca


Open Access

pp. 225-236
Authors: Woodhead, Cindy; Vences, Miguel; Vieites, David R.; Gamboni, Ilona; Fisher, Brian L. & Griffiths, Richard A.

Abstract: We studied the diet of a population of free-ranging Mantella aurantiaca, an alkaloid-containing poison frog from Madagascar. As in other poison frogs, this species is thought to sequester alkaloids from arthropod prey. Among prey, mites and ants are known to regularly contain alkaloids and mites appear to be a major source of dietary alkaloids in poison frogs. We predicted that mites and ants would constitute the most important prey item for these frogs. Prey inventories were obtained during the rainy season by stomach flushing 23 adult male and 42 adult female frogs from one population. Males had smaller body sizes than females and ate smaller prey items, but males and females displayed no differences in the number of prey items consumed. The numerical proportion of ants in most specimens was surprisingly low (11% in males and 15% in females), while mites were slightly more frequent (34% in males and 18% in females). Other prey items consumed in large proportions were flies and collembolans. Comparing the total of 5492 arthropod prey items with 1867 arthropods sampled from the frogs' leaf litter habitat, the proportion of prey classes did not significantly differ among the samples, indicating a low degree of prey electivity in this population. Our data suggest that not all poison frogs exhibit a continuous and active preference for feeding on ants and mites, but instead some may consume high proportions of ants due to a high abundance of ants in their environment.


pdf 04. New evidence on the phylogenetic position of the poorly known Asian pitviper Protobothrops kaulbacki (Serpentes: Viperidae: Crotalinae) with a redescription of the species and a revision of the genus Protobothrops


Open Access

pp. 237-246
Authors: Guo, Peng; Malhotra, Anita; Li, Pi P.; Pook, Catharine E. & Creer, Simon

Abstract: Although much systematic work has been done in recent years on the Asian pitviper genus Protobothrops, the phylogenetic position of P. kaulbacki remains poorly understood due to its rarity and the inaccessibility of its range. This species has long been regarded as morphologically close to P. jerdonii and therefore has been widely treated as a member of Protobothrops. In this paper, we evaluate the phylogenetic position of this species using skull characteristics, hemipenial, ecological and molecular data. A molecular phylogeny, based on four mitochondrial genes, shows that the species forms a very highly supported sister-group relationship with Triceratolepidophis sieversorum, and is distinct from all other Protobothrops species. We discuss the alternative systematic arrangements that could take into account these newly discovered relationships of P. kaulbacki, provide a redescription of the species and summarize the available information on the distribution and natural history of P. kaulbacki.


pdf 05. Habitat use and abundance of a low-altitude chameleon assemblage in eastern Madagascar


Open Access

pp. 247-254
Authors: Rabearivony, Jeanneney; Brady, Lee D.; Jenkins, Richard K.B. & Ravoahangimalala, Olga R.

Abstract: We studied the density and abundance of chameleons in a lowland Malagasy rainforest during the austral summer and winter. Nocturnal searches for chameleons were conducted along transects within relatively intact forest and vegetation on abandoned agricultural land adjacent to the forest. Four chameleon species were encountered during the study, Brookesia superciliaris, Calumma parsonii parsonii, Calumma nasutum and Furcifer pardalis. Brookesia superciliaris was most common inside relatively intact forest and the few individuals located in the regenerating forest on abandoned agricultural land were found in tiny, isolated patches of degraded rainforest next to rivers. Calumma p. parsonii was only encountered on three occasions in relatively intact forest and was a rare member of the community. The abundance of C. nasutum was highest in relatively intact forest but this species also occurred in vegetation on abandoned agricultural land. Furcifer pardalis was only found on the abandoned agricultural land, where it was observed laying eggs in sandy soil in August. The abundance of all species in habitats alongside rivers was higher in January than July–August, with the exception of C. p. parsonii, which was not detected during the former period. Additional investigations into habitat preference of chameleons and surveys in other forests in region are needed to establish whether the low abundance of C. p. parsonii and the absence of the Brookesia minima group at this site are related to 1) abiotic factors associated with altitude, 2) physical barriers that have prevented dispersal, or 3) the selective logging that occurred at the site until 1993.


pdf 06. Two clades of north European pool frogs Rana lessonae identified by cytochrome b sequence analysis


Open Access

pp. 255-260
Authors: Zeisset, Inga & Beebee, Trevor J.C.

Abstract: A 410 base-pair region of the mitochondrial cytochrome b (cytb) gene, including the coding region for amino acids 44–179, was amplified and sequenced from a total of 53 pool frogs (Rana lessonae) sampled in nine European countries across the species' biogeographical range. Just two haplotypes were found, differing by single base pair (G–A transition) at a codon second position, corresponding to a conservative (serine–asparagine) change at amino acid 75. Only haplotype A (serine 75) was found in the samples from Italy, Hungary, Switzerland, Poland, Sweden, Norway and Britain (including museum specimens). Only haplotype B (asparagine 75) was found in France, and there were equal numbers of A and B haplotypes in a small sample from the Netherlands. Comparisons with other ranid cytb sequences together with an absence of stop codons indicated that the sequences were mitochondrial rather than nuclear copies. Using these north European cytb sequences and three more from other work based on individuals from Italy, Ukraine and Luxembourg, we discuss haplotype distribution with respect to the phylogeography of R. lessonae.


pdf 07. A comparative study of predator-induced social aggregation of tadpoles in two anuran species from western Madagascar


Open Access

pp. 261-268
Authors: Glos, Julian; Erdmann, Georgia; Dausmann, Kathrin H. & Linsenmair, K. Eduard

Abstract: In the dry forest of western Madagascar, mixed-species social aggregations of tadpoles are frequent. Two species are often found in one aggregate. We explored the proximate mechanisms leading to the formation of tadpole aggregations that include the two species Aglyptodactylus securifer (Mantellidae) and Dyscophus insularis (Microhylidae). We show that aggregations are induced by the direct presence of predators, or by indirect chemical cues indicating a predation risk. However, the specific cues that initiated the formation of aggregations differed between the two species. Aglyptodactylus securifer reacted to con- and heterospecific tadpole homogenate (#Schreckstoff#). Dyscophus insularis' reaction was predator-specific to fish, i.e. directly to fish and indirectly to chemical cues released by fish. Although the ultimate benefit of this behaviour is thought to be to reduce predation, it also has costs. Tadpoles of A. securifer in the presence of predatory cues showed reduced growth and retarded development compared to tadpoles in control treatments.


pdf 08. Parasite communities of two lizard species, Alopoglossus angulatus and Alopoglossus atriventris, from Brazil and Ecuador


Open Access

pp. 269-272
Authors: Goldberg, Stephen R.; Bursey, Charles & Vitt, Laurie J.

Abstract: Alopoglossus angulatus and A. atriventris from Brazil and Ecuador were examined for endoparasites. Alopoglossus angulatus harboured one species of Digenea, Mesocoelium monas, and two species of Nematoda, Cosmocerca vrcibradici and Oswaldocruzia vitti; A. atriventris harboured one species of Cestoda, Oochoristica sp., and three species of Nematoda, Cosmocerca vrcibradici, Oswaldocruzia vitti and Physalopteroides venancioi. Sorenson's index (0.57) indicated a significant difference between helminth communities for the two host species.


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