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 19, Number 4, October 2009

pdf 01. Activity rhythms and time budget of Sacalia quadriocellata in captivity


Open Access

pp. 163-172
Authors: Liu, Yu-Xiang; Shi, Hai-Tao; Wang, Jie; Murphy, Robert W.; Hong, Mei-Ling; Yun, Chong; Wang, Zhi-Wei; Wang, Yu; He, Bin & Wang, Li-Jun

Abstract: From August 2002 through July 2004, the 24-hour time budget and activity rhythm of 15 captive, wild-caught, adult Sacalia quadriocellata (eight females, seven males) from Qiongzhong, Hainan Island, was observed by all-occurrence and scan sampling methods. The results showed that S. quadriocellata spends most of its time resting (mean 96.9%) and little time on moving (mean 3%) and feeding (mean <1%). Some differences occurred between females and males in time budget. Females spent significantly more time moving than males and less time resting. There was no difference between females and males in feeding behaviour. ANOVA indicated inter-individual variation in both females and males in all behaviours, except for “other” behaviour by males. Variation among females was greater than that in males. This discrepancy may have reflected different roles in reproduction. All behaviours had significant daily rhythms. Daily movement peaked from 0700 to 1300 and from 1900 to 0300 the next day. The feeding rhythm peaked from 0700 to 0900 and from 1900 to 0300 next day. The other behaviours showed pulse-like rhythms. Compared to movement in the field, peak times in captivity were largely coincident, although their peak and sub-peak times overlapped. This overlap probably resulted from differences in seeking food. Annually, the rhythm in moving peaked from April through September. The annual feeding rhythm peaked from April through September. Both of these rhythms had significant annual variation. Some differences in moving occurred between females and males in January, February and June. Activity was positively correlated with air temperature in the breeding room, and feeding behaviour was also positively correlated with relative humidity. Movement was not correlated with relative humidity. Cluster analysis divided the 12 months into two periods: active period (AP) and quiet period (QP).


pdf 02. Structure of wetland-breeding anuran assemblages from the southern section of the Paraná river, Argentina


Open Access

pp. 173-184
Authors: Sanchez, Laura C.; Peltzer, Paola M. & Lajmanovich, Rafael C.

Abstract: Knowledge of anuran reproduction is necessary to understand the organization of their communities and is a first step in developing management strategies in order to conserve amphibian diversity. We studied the reproduction of anuran species in a wetland reserve – Pre-Delta National Park (PDNP) – on the southern section of the Paraná river in the mideast of Argentina, examining its structure at temporal and spatial levels. We also analysed the influence of environmental factors on breeding activities at habitat and landscape levels. Six waterbodies in the PDNP were monitored from September 2005 to March 2006. Five habitat variables (maximum pond width and length, maximum depth, shore vegetation and presence of predators) and three landscape variables (monthly air temperature, river level and rainfall) were recorded every month and analysed through multivariate analysis. Principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) indicated the existence of four breeding periods. The most frequent breeding call location was the edge of a pond (56.8%), over floating and marsh plants. The presence of tadpole predators and pond width were the main habitat variables that influenced breeding activities. In addition, the number of species with calling males per month was positively correlated with the level of the river which supplies water to ponds. Breeding anuran species co-occurred less often than expected by chance, and exhibited breeding segregation at temporal and spatial scales. The diverse evidence regarding temporal and spatial breeding activities demonstrates the importance of segregation for anuran reproduction in the area studied. We suggest that the nature of breeding interactions can be affected by habitat preference and reproductive strategy, as well as by abiotic (e.g. pond width), biotic (e.g. predators) and landscape (e.g. hydrological variation) variables.


pdf 03. Spitting behaviour of hatchling red spitting cobras (Naja pallida)


Open Access

pp. 185-191
Authors: Young, Bruce A.; Boetig, Melissa & Westhoff, Guido

Abstract: Though spitting cobras are able to “spit” their venom even before they fully emerge from the egg, little is known about how this remarkable defensive behaviour is manifest in hatchlings. This study examined three aspects of spitting behaviour in hatchling red spitting cobras (Naja pallida) – the amount and dispersal of the spat venom, the kinematics of the head during spitting, and the distance of both the target and the spat venom. Hatchlings spit more venom relative to their body mass than adult snakes, and produce similar patterns of spatial dispersal of the spat venom. Hatchlings exhibit cephalic oscillations during spitting that are similar to those reported in adults, although the magnitudes of these movements are more exaggerated in the hatchlings. The distance covered by the hatchling's spat venom is much less than that of the adult cobra, and, unlike the adults, the hatchlings routinely spit at targets well beyond their effective spitting range. These results suggest that while the same basic mechanisms underlie spitting in hatchlings and adults, these mechanisms undergo a distinct ontogenetic refinement leading to improved functional performance. Comparisons between the hatchlings and the adults led to the formation of a basic ethological model for venom spitting.


pdf 04. A multivariate investigation into the population systematics of Dendrelaphis tristis (Daudin, 1803) and Dendrelaphis schokari (Kuhl, 1820): revalidation of Dendrophis chairecacos Boie, 1827 (Serpentes: Colubridae)


Open Access

pp. 193-200
Authors: Rooijen, Johan Van & Vogel, Gernot

Abstract: The population systematics of the closely related colubrid snakes Dendrelaphis tristis (Daudin, 1803) and Dendrelaphis schokari (Kuhl, 1820) were investigated on the basis of morphological data taken from 82 museum specimens. Multivariate and univariate analyses of these data reveal the existence of a third species that occurs sympatrically with D. tristis in south India. This hitherto unrecognized species agrees with the description of Dendrophis chairecacos Boie, 1827 which is consequently revalidated under the combination Dendrelaphis chairecacos (Boie, 1827). A neotype is designated to objectively define this taxon. Dendrelaphis chairecacos inhabits south India and D. schokari inhabits Sri Lanka. D. tristis occurs sympatrically with both species, ranging from Sri Lanka through most of India to Nepal. A key to the three species is provided. Observed differences in head morphology are probably correlates of niche partitioning between D. tristis on the one hand and D. chairecacos and D. schokari on the other hand. The revalidation of D. chairecacos strengthens the notion that Sri Lanka and the Western Ghats are faunally more distinct than previously recognized.


pdf 05. Short-term movements of the South American rattlesnake (Crotalus durissus) in southeastern Brazil


Open Access

pp. 201-206
Authors: Tozetti, Alexandro M.; Vettorazzo, Victor & Martins, Marcio

Abstract: Ecological studies of movements in animals require extensive knowledge of direction, distance and frequency of movements. The purpose of this study was to describe the daily and seasonal movements in a population of the South American rattlesnake, Crotalus durissus. The study population inhabits a cerrado area in southeastern Brazil. Snakes were tracked with externally attached radio-transmitters and thread bobbins. Larger animals tended to make more extensive daily movements, moving further from the initial site of capture. There were no differences in average daily movements between sexes. Site fidelity was higher in the dry season for both sexes. Both sexes moved distances twice as long as those calculated by drawing a straight line between consecutive points. The movement pattern of C. durissus seemed to be similar to that observed in other tropical pit vipers, such as species of the genus Bothrops.


pdf 06. Activity patterns and habitat selection in a population of the African fire skink (Lygosoma fernandi) from the Niger Delta, Nigeria


Open Access

pp. 207-211
Authors: Akani, Godfrey C.; Luiselli, Luca; Ogbeibu, Anthony E.; Uwaegbu, Mike & Ebere, Nwabueze

Abstract: The African fire skink, Lygosoma fernandi, is a poorly known, large scincid species inhabiting the rainforests of central and western Africa. Aspects of its field ecology (daily and seasonal activity patterns and habitat selection) were studied at a coastal site in southeastern Nigeria. Skinks were studied by both pitfall traps and visual encounter survey techniques for a total of 40 field days (20 in the dry and 20 in the wet season) by nine researchers. Over 98% of skinks (n=106) were active between 1715 and 1830, while only 2% were found out of their burrow earlier in the day. Above-ground activity was significantly more intense during the wet season. Lygosoma fernandi selected habitat types regardless of their relative availability in the field, and showed a clear preference for swamp forest and lowland forest patches. Mangrove swamps were, on the other hand, actively avoided.


pdf 07. Run to shelter or bury into the sand? Factors affecting escape behaviour decisions in Argentinian sand dune lizards (Liolaemus multimaculatus)


Open Access

pp. 213-216
Authors: Kacoliris, Federico P.; Guerrero, E.; Molinari, A.; Moyano, B. & Rafael, A.

Abstract: The goal of this study was to assess the main factors affecting escape strategies (escaping or sand burying) in sand dune lizards (Liolaemus multimaculatus). We recorded body size, substrate temperature, approach distance and shelter distance in the field, and performed an enclosure experiment to test whether mimicked predator types (aerial or terrestrial) affect escape behaviour. The frequency of sand-burying behaviour increased with distance to shelter (represented by patches of bunch grass; logistic regression, P<0.001), which was the single significant predictor of the escape strategy chosen. However, in enclosure experiments the escape strategies adopted by lizards did not depend on predator type (contingency tables, P=0.62).


pdf 08. Infection by the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in the yellow belly frog (Elachistocleis bicolor) from Argentina


Open Access

pp. 217-220
Authors: Arellano, María Luz; Ferraro, Daiana P.; Steciow, Mónica M. & Lavilla, Esteban O.

Abstract: Infection by the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis was detected in a dead adult of the yellow belly frog (Elachistocleis bicolor) in Misiones province, Argentina. The analysis of the skin through standard histological procedures revealed the presence of chytrid sporangia in different stages. This is the first report of B. dendrobatidis occurring in hot and humid lowlands in northeastern Argentinian Atlantic forest, and the first case of infection for the frog genus Elachistocleis. The importance of this finding is discussed in light of the particular conservation importance of the eco-region involved, and the coinciding emergence of locally introduced American bullfrogs.