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 20, Number 2, April 2010

pdf 01. Surface ciliation and tail structure in direct-developing frog embryos: a comparison between Myobatrachus gouldii and Pristimantis (= Eleutherodactylus) urichi


Open Access

pp. 59-68
Authors: Nokhbatolfoghahai, Mohsen; Mitchell, Nicola J. & Downie, J. Roger

Abstract: Surface ciliation in two direct-developing anurans from unrelated lineages, the Australian myobatrachid Myobatrachus gouldii and the South American terraranan Pristimantis urichi, is shown to be broadly similar, persisting on some body regions until close to hatching, suggesting a common need for circulation of fluid inside the jelly layers. The tail of M. gouldii is tadpole-like at its maximum extent though considerably reduced in its axial core and musculature. Its surface epidermis is thin and highly folded in some areas, with blood vessels approaching very close to the surface, consistent with a respiratory role. The tail moves actively when well developed, which may assist with respiratory exchange. The tail in P. urichi has a novel construction, quite different from both M. gouldii and that reported for Caribbean lineage terraranans such as Eleutherodactylus coqui or E. nubicola. In P. urichi, the tail expands laterally and posteriorly, not dorsally and ventrally, and only has a short axial core at its base, suggesting very limited motility: it therefore seems not to be composed of axial core and dorsal/ventral fins. We suggest that this thin-walled vascular structure, applied close to the perivitelline membrane, facilitates respiratory exchange. Discovery of this novel structure suggests that the development of other terraranan embryos needs investigation.


pdf 02. Population density estimates of agamid lizards in human-modified habitats of the Western Ghats, India


Open Access

pp. 69-76
Authors: Venugopal, P. Dilip

Abstract: The agamid lizards of the Western Ghats (WG) mountain chain in India are currently threatened by destruction of forests for conversion to plantations. Accurate information on the population status of the agamid lizards in modified habitats is needed for conservation and management considerations, but detailed data on population densities are currently not available. In this study, I estimated the population densities of agamid lizards in human-modified habitats of the Valparai plateau in the southern WG using distance sampling. Nineteen line transects (0.25 km each) in five study sites including abandoned vanilla, abandoned rubber, vanilla and tea plantations and a degraded evergreen forest patch were sampled a minimum of five times each. The population density (individuals/ha) of Calotes ellioti and Draco dussumieri in the vanilla plantation was estimated to be 8.95±2.09 and 1.25±0.40 respectively. The density of Psammophilus blanfordanus, which was detected only in tea plantations, was estimated as 3.13±1.02. Mean rate of encounters (animals/transect) for C. ellioti was highest in the vanilla plantation (1.83, SE=0.41). For D. dussumieri, the mean encounter rates were identical in the vanilla plantation (0.80, SE=0.21) and the abandoned rubber plantations (0.80, SE=0.4). The encounter rates of C. ellioti in the vanilla plantation were higher than those in rainforest fragments in the Valparai plateau. This study helps us understand the role of modified habitats in supporting populations of endemic agamid lizards.


pdf 03. Age, size and growth in two populations of the dark-spotted frog Rana nigromaculata at different altitudes in southwestern China


Open Access

pp. 77-82
Authors: Liao, Wen Bo; Zhou, Cai Quan; Yang, Zhi Song; Hu, Jin Chu & Lu, Xin

Abstract: We studied demographic traits of a subtropical frog, Rana nigromaculata, in two populations from different altitudes (300 and 800 m) in southwestern China over two successive years (April 2008 and 2009). Frogs from high altitudes tended to be smaller than frogs from low altitudes, but the average age of males and females did not differ between populations. Females were significantly older than males. There was a non-significant relationship between age and body size for both sexes in the high altitude population, and for males in the low altitude population. In both populations, growth rates of females were significantly higher than in males, with individuals at high altitude showing a higher growth rate than at low altitude. When the effect of age on body size was controlled for, body size of both males and females was significantly larger at low altitude.


pdf 04. On the diversity, colonization patterns and status of Hemidactylus spp. (Reptilia: Gekkonidae) from the Western Indian Ocean islands


Open Access

pp. 83-89
Authors: Rocha, Sara; Carretero, Miguel A. & Harris, D. James

Abstract: Hemidactylus geckos are probably the most widespread genus of reptiles, with a world-wide distribution and multiple cases of range expansion and transmarine colonization. With an almost cosmopolitan distribution and many species being morphologically similar it has proved difficult to delimit species diversity and distributions. Using a comprehensive analysis of individuals collected across the Western Indian Ocean islands and some locations along the East African coast, we further assess their diversity and the origin of insular populations. Despite four species of Hemidactylus being widespread across the Western Indian Ocean islands, most of their range in this area may actually be the result of very recent (possibly human-aided) dispersal events. Most probably, all Hemidactylus species occurring in the Comoros and granitic Seychelles archipelagoes are not native. Instances of natural colonization seem to be only the ones of H. mabouia to Madagascar and from there to the coralline archipelago of Aldabra. Surprisingly, Aldabra populations reveal a remarkable diversity and structure. Given the degree of divergence observed we propose that insular (Gulf of Guinea, Comoros, Madagascar, Seychelles) populations of H. mabouia are recognized as H. mercatorius. Cryptic variation is further uncovered in all species in their native range, with H. platycephalus and H. mabouia harbouring several highly divergent lineages, but further taxonomic assignments should await detailed assessments of distribution and molecular variation.


pdf 05. Genetic divergence between and within two subspecies of Laudakia stellio on islands in the Greek Cyclades


Open Access

pp. 91-98
Authors: Brammah, Martin; Hoffman, Joseph I. & Amos, William

Abstract: The study of genetic differentiation between allopatric island populations should ideally account for regional palaeogeography, as this can often help to explain current distribution patterns. Here we present a study of two subspecies of the lizard Laudakia stellio in the Greek Cyclades, an excellent model for studying vicariant speciation over a relatively short geological timescale: L. s. stellio on the islands of Mykonos and Delos; and L. s. daani on Paros and Naxos. Using AFLP techniques, we demonstrate a high degree of genetic differentiation both between and within the two subspecies, and relate this to the known palaeogeography of this region. Our results suggest that the genetic differences between the populations of the two subspecies can be explained by a more recent colonization of Paros and Naxos by L. s. daani, with L. s. stellio having been established in the Cyclades for a longer period of time.


pdf 06. Visible implant elastomer tagging and toe-clipping: effects of marking on locomotor performance of frogs and skinks


Open Access

pp. 99-105
Authors: Schmidt, Katrin & Schwarzkopf, Lin

Abstract: Marking for identification of previously captured animals is a critical aspect of many types of ecological studies. Marking animals may affect performance, which in turn could influence survival. We compared the effects of toe-clipping and elastomer tagging on the locomotor performance of frogs (jump distance) and skinks (running speed and endurance). We examined the immediate effect of marking, and the effect after a recovery period of two weeks. Jump distance decreased across all treatment groups in frogs immediately after marking, but toe-clipped individuals jumped less far in relation to their original jump distance than did elastomer tagged or control frogs. After two weeks, there was a relative increase in jump distance of the toe-clipped frogs, but for all groups performance was lower than at the start of the experiment. In skinks, both marking methods reduced skink endurance, and toe-clipping had a stronger negative effect on running speed than did elastomer tagging. After two weeks, skink endurance and running speed increased to above the initial measures for all treatment groups. Overall, toe-clipping had stronger immediate effects on locomotor performance, indicating that elastomer tagging may be a marginally better marking method.


pdf 07. Characterization of microsatellite loci in the Carpathian newt (Lissotriton montandoni)


Open Access

pp. 107-110
Authors: Nadachowska, Krystyna; Flis, Ilona & Babik, Wiesław

Abstract: Seven polymorphic microsatellite loci were developed for the Carpathian newt (Lissotriton montandoni) and tested for cross-amplification in multiple geographic groups of its sister species L. vulgaris. Genetic variation was characterized for 52 L. montandoni from two sites from Poland and Romania, reflecting the geographic range of the species. The number of alleles per locus ranged from six to 13 and the observed heterozygosity ranged from 0.20 to 0.87. Significant excess of homozygotes detected at two loci may suggest the presence of null alleles. No evidence for linkage disequilibrium between loci was detected. The cross-amplification success was variable, suggesting that the use of the markers developed in the present study may be limited to geographically restricted groups of the smooth newt.


pdf 08. The diet of the paradoxical frog Pseudis paradoxa in Trinidad, West Indies


Open Access

pp. 111-114
Authors: Downie, J. Roger; Hancock, E. Geoffrey & Muir, Anna P.

Abstract: The diet of adult and late metamorphic Pseudis paradoxa in Trinidad was assessed from stomach contents. Pseudis paradoxa consumed a wide taxonomic and size range of invertebrates, mostly insects, but also arachnids, crustaceans (crabs) and annelids. There was little evidence for ontogenetic changes in prey taken, but larger females had taken larger prey than smaller individuals. Although most prey items could have been captured above the water surface, some must have been taken below the surface. The significance of these findings is discussed in the light of Pseudis's unique life history and evolution (individuals are essentially full size at metamorphosis; adults are fully but secondarily aquatic) and in comparison with previous reports.