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 3, July 2010

pdf 01. Ronald Maxwell Savage, 1900–1985: a tribute


Open Access

pp. 115-116
Authors: Beebee, Trevor J.C.



pdf 02. Major disease threats to European amphibians


Open Access

pp. 117-127
Authors: Duffus, Amanda L.J. & Cunningham, Andrew A.

Abstract: Disease threats to amphibians in Europe are generally poorly understood. The effects that disease can have on amphibian populations can range from minimal to local extirpation. Currently, two infectious agents are emerging as disease threats to European amphibian populations: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which is the causative agent of amphibian chytridiomycosis, and ranavirus(es). Both pathogens are listed by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The incidence of other infectious diseases, such as amphibiocystidium, might also be increasing. In this review, we discuss known and potential disease threats to European amphibians, including their current and potential impact on amphibian populations, and factors driving their emergence and spread. We provide recommendations on how to proceed with investigations into cases where disease is thought to be involved in mortality or decline. We also stress that a multidisciplinary approach to these investigations is required.


pdf 03. Molecular evidence for the taxonomic status of Hemidactylus brookii group taxa (Squamata: Gekkonidae)


Open Access

pp. 129-138
Authors: Bauer, Aaron M.; Jackman, Todd R.; Greenbaum, Eli; de Silva, Anslem; Giri, Varad B. & Das, Indraneil

Abstract: Hemidactylus brookii has one of the widest distributions and, arguably, one of the most confused taxonomic histories of any gekkonid lizard. Nuclear (RAG1 and PDC) and mitochondrial (ND2, cytb) DNA sequence data were employed to examine relationships among a sample of putative H. brookii, including a topotypical specimen from Borneo. Two clades were recovered, one consisting of specimens from Borneo (Sarawak), Myanmar, Peninsular Malaysia and Karnataka, southwestern India, and another of specimens from Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Kerala, southwestern India. Both clades are well supported and deeply divergent from one another, whereas genetic variation within each clade is limited. None of the analytical approaches used recovered a well-supported monophyletic H. brookii sensu lato. Near uniformity of H. brookii sensu stricto in East Asia suggests that this species has spread to this region relatively recently. The name H. parvimaculatus Deraniyagala 1953 is available for the Sri Lankan clade and this form should be treated as a valid species. Existing data cannot be used to distinguish whether this species has colonized Sri Lanka from South India or vice versa. The Palghat Gap provides a candidate barrier to gene flow between H. brookii and H. parvimaculatus. Although the identity of H. brookii complex geckos in East Asia and Sri Lanka appears resolved, the situation in India and Pakistan remains complex and thorough revisionary work, coupled with phylogenetic studies, is needed to determine species boundaries in this region.


pdf 04. Population characteristics of a terrestrial geoemydid, Melanochelys tricarinata, from the Doon Valley, northern India


Open Access

pp. 139-146
Authors: Kumar, R. Suresh; Harihar, Abishek & Pandav, Bivash

Abstract: Melanochelys tricarinata is a poorly known terrestrial South Asian geoemydid turtle with a small distributional range. From 2002 to 2008, we monitored a population of the species in the Doon valley of northern India, and obtained information on its population characteristics, general activity pattern and diet. In total, 120 individual turtles were captured (47 males, 37 females and 36 unsexed juveniles and hatchlings). Turtles were captured mainly during the rainy months (94.4%), and captures were significantly correlated with periods of high rainfall. The overall adult sex ratio was unbiased. The larger body size was, however, biased towards males. With an average carapace length of 154 mm (range 127–175 mm) and a weight of 461.5 g (range 280.0–621.1 g), males were larger than females, who had an average carapace length of 138 mm (range 117–151 mm) and an average weight of 382.5 g (range 240.0–511.1 g). No increase in carapace length in either male or female turtles was observed after they attained ten years of age. Observations of diet suggest the species is omnivorous, feeding on both fruits and animal matter.


pdf 05. Reproductive biology of an endemic Physalaemus of the Brazilian Atlantic forest, and the trade-off between clutch and egg size in terrestrial breeders of the P. signifer group


Open Access

pp. 147-156
Authors: Pupin, Nadya Carolina; Gasparini, João Luiz; Bastos, Rogério P.; Haddad, Célio F.B. & Prado, Cynthia P.A.

Abstract: Physalaemus crombiei is a small foam-nesting frog endemic to the Atlantic forest. It is a member of the P. signifer group known only from its type locality in Santa Teresa, State of Espírito Santo, and from another locality in the State of Bahia, Brazil. Most Physalaemus species are aquatic breeders, and species in the P. signifer group are the only ones exhibiting a tendency toward terrestrial reproduction in the genus. Here we describe the reproductive period, breeding site and reproductive modes of P. crombiei from a third population in the Atlantic forest, southeastern Brazil. We also investigated reproductive effort and size–fecundity relationships in females. Reproductive traits were compared to other species in the genus Physalaemus, especially those included in the P. signifer group. Physalaemus crombiei is a prolonged breeder, reproducing throughout the year with a peak of activity during the most rainy months (October–March). Males called from the humid forest floor and eggs embedded in foam nests were deposited in the water as well as on the humid floor amidst the leaf litter, or inside fallen leaves or tree holes containing rainwater on the forest floor. As expected, P. crombiei exhibited three alternative reproductive modes, as described for other species of the P. signifer group. The number of eggs produced per female varied from 91 to 250. Female body size is positively correlated both with ovary mass and clutch size (number of eggs per clutch). Variation in the number and size of eggs observed in Physalaemus species may be explained not only by female size, but also by the terrestrial reproductive mode exhibited by the species in the P. signifer group.


pdf 06. Breeding biology of Python molurus molurus in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, India


Open Access

pp. 157-163
Authors: Ramesh, Chinnasamy & Bhupathy, Subramanian

Abstract: We describe aspects of the breeding biology of free ranging Python molurus molurus based on observations during May–August 2008 in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, India. For two females, the incubation period was 74 days, with a hatching success of 95%. All neonates dispersed on the fifth night from the date of first pipping. Incubating females did not feed, and abandoned the nests after 61 days, leaving them unattended for 11–13 days before hatching of eggs. Female pythons maintained a body temperature of 32.5±0.78 °C during incubation despite atmospheric temperatures varying between 9.7 °C above and 6.1 °C below this value. It appears that this was achieved by shivering thermogenesis, and changes in the coiling posture around the eggs; our data thus provide field-based evidence of facultative endothermy in this species. It is hypothesized that females leave the nest in order to facilitate the increased oxygen demand by embryos at late stages.


pdf 07. Effect of shell type on the composition of chelonian eggs


Open Access

pp. 165-171
Authors: Deeming, D.C. & Whitfield, T.R.

Abstract: This study examined the hypothesis that composition of chelonian eggs, i.e. masses of shell, yolk and albumen, would be influenced by the structure of the eggshell. In particular, because albumen is a store of water in an egg, it was predicted that rigid-shelled eggs would have more albumen than pliable-shelled eggs because they have less scope for absorbing water from the incubation environment. Data were collected from the published literature for 23 chelonian species that exhibited either pliable or rigid-shelled eggs (11 and 12 species in each category, respectively). Linear regression analysis was used to describe relationships between mass of the egg and the three different components. For any given egg mass a rigid shell was heavier than a pliable shell and the exponent for rigid-shelled eggs was significantly higher than that for pliable-shelled eggs. By contrast, there were no significant effects of shell type on the masses of yolk or albumen. The ability of turtle eggs to absorb water during incubation was not, therefore, reflected in the mass of the albumen. Differences in shell structure in chelonians must have evolved for another reason that has yet to be investigated.


pdf 08. Pelvic musculature and function of Caiman latirostris


Open Access

pp. 173-184
Authors: Otero, Alejandro; Gallina, Pablo A. & Herrera, Yanina

Abstract: The musculoskeletal hindlimb anatomy of the alligatorid Caiman latirostris Daudin is presented. The description includes origin and insertion sites as well as anatomical function of the pelvic and proximal hindlimb musculature. The hindlimb anatomy of C. latirostris described here is rather conservative when compared to that of other extant crocodilians studied. Nonetheless there is some inter-specific variation between C. latirostris and other Crocodylia, such as the well known Alligator mississippiensis. Caiman latirostris and other alligatorids have many differences between each other concerning the origin and insertion sites as well as the extent and relative development of the muscular masses involved, such as the absence of M. flexor tibialis internus 4, the addition of one dorsal vertebra to the origin of PIFI 2, totalling seven vertebrae, the exclusion of sacral vertebrae in the origin site of CFB, and the inclusion of transverse processes, as well as haemal arches in the origin site of CFL, among others. Regarding muscle function, hindlimb agonist–antagonist movements in Caiman latirostris are not performed by a sole muscle, but instead by a principal muscle and others that complete the action. These anatomical variations could be correlated with a particular locomotor behaviour and phylogenetic landscape.


pdf 09. Trachemys dorbigni in an anthropic environment in southern Brazil: I) Sexual size dimorphism and population estimates


Open Access

pp. 185-193
Authors: Fagundes, Camila Kurzmann; Bager, Alex & Cechin, Sonia Terezinha Zanini

Abstract: Trachemys dorbigni is the southernmost species of its genus, and is subject to strong pressure from harvesting for the pet trade. We collected 377 individuals of T. dorbigni in an urban marsh in southern Brazil between February 2006 and January 2007, to document sexual dimorphism and to provide data on the structure of the population. The sex ratio was not different from 1:1. Animals that exceeded 127 cm in carapace length (CL) were considered adults. Females were, on average, heavier and larger than males but had a smaller carapace and plastron terminal distance (CPD). The weekly recapture probability for juveniles was constant (4%). However, adults varied in weekly recapture probability, which may be associated with their reproductive behaviour. Weekly survival was constant for juveniles (94%) and adults (97%). Future investigations should analyse how survival and recapture fluctuate in an environment where a large proportion of the eggs and young are collected for the pet trade.


pdf 10. Trachemys dorbigni in an anthropic environment in southern Brazil: II) Reproductive ecology


Open Access

pp. 195-199
Authors: Fagundes, Camila Kurzmann and Bager, Alex and Cechin, Sonia Terezinha Zanini

Abstract: The biology of the turtle Trachemys dorbigni is little known. To contribute to knowledge of its reproductive ecology, we studied a population in southern Brazil from September 2006 to January 2007. Nesting occurred from 22 October to 4 January. Mean clutch size was 8.2 eggs and mean egg size was 37.3 × 20.2 mm, the lowest values reported for the species. Egg dimensions showed no relationship to clutch size or female size. Only 35.3% of the females in the population nested during the breeding season; 11.9% of females nested twice. The incubation temperature in the nests ranged from 16.1 to 35.5 °C (mean 27.3 °C). The distance of the nests from an adjacent marsh ranged between 0.4 m and 160.5 m (mean = 60.5 m) and predation on the nests was more intense closer to the marsh. The study illustrates the importance of understanding habitat use and the potential for human disturbance to modify reproductive parameters of turtles.


pdf 11. Thermal ecology and thermoregulatory behaviour of Tropidurus hispidus and T. semitaeniatus in a caatinga area of northeastern Brazil


Open Access

pp. 201-208
Authors: Ribeiro, Leonardo B. & Freire, Eliza M.X.

Abstract: This study assessed the thermal ecology of Tropidurus hispidus and T. semitaeniatus in a caatinga area in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. The mean activity body temperature of T. semitaeniatus (35.1±2.0 °C) was significantly higher than that of T. hispidus (33.6±2.3 °C). While there was no seasonal variation in the body temperature of T. hispidus, it was significantly higher for T. semitaeniatus in the wet season compared to the dry season. Substrate temperature was the best predictor of body temperature in T. hispidus in both seasons, whereas for T. semitaeniatus substrate and air temperatures were the best predictors of lizard temperature in the wet and dry season, respectively. During the dry season, both species spent more time in the shade or under filtered sunlight. In the wet season, T. hispidus did not prefer areas with specific light exposures, whereas T. semitaeniatus predominantly spent time exposed to the sun or under filtered sunlight. We conclude that the similarity in temperature ranges during activity of T. hispidus and T. semitaeniatus most likely reflects their common phylogenetic origin and foraging mode, whereas the differences in thermal behaviour may be due to their particular adaptations to their local, seasonal habitat.


pdf 12. Interactive effects of food availability and temperature on wood frog (Rana sylvatica) tadpoles


Open Access

pp. 209-211
Authors: Castano, Brett; Miely, Shawn; Smith, Geoffrey R. & Rettig, Jessica E.

Abstract: Temperature and food availability can affect the growth and survivorship of ectothermic vertebrates. We examined how the interaction of temperature and food availability influenced the growth and survival of wood frog (Rana sylvatica) tadpoles. Tadpoles experiencing 17 °C survived better than tadpoles experiencing 25 °C. The difference in survivorship between temperature treatments tended to be highest at the lowest food level. Tadpoles in the high food treatment were significantly heavier than tadpoles in other treatments. Tadpoles in the 25 °C treatment were larger than tadpoles in the 17 °C treatment. Tadpoles were substantially heavier in the high food, warm temperature treatment combination than in other treatments. Our results suggest the effects of temperature change on amphibian populations could be mediated by food availability.


pdf 13. Body size development of captive and free-ranging African spurred tortoises (Geochelone sulcata): high plasticity in reptilian growth rates


Open Access

pp. 213-216
Authors: Ritz, Julia; Griebeler, Eva Maria; Huber, Ruth & Clauss, Marcus

Abstract: In captivity, tortoises often grow faster than their conspecifics in the wild. Here, we document growth (measured as change in body mass) in three individual Geochelone sulcata over an exceptionally long period of nearly 18 years and use growth data (measured as change in carapace length) from the literature on free-ranging animals for comparison. Body lengths almost reached a plateau in the animals due to the long observation period. After transformation of body length to body mass for data from wild animals, logistic growth curves were successfully fitted to all data. The resulting functions yielded a 1.4–2.6 times higher intrinsic growth rate in captive than in wild individuals. The logistic growth model estimated the inflexion point of the growth curve at 6–9 years for the captive animals. This coincided with age at sexual maturity, respectively observations of first egg-laying of a female and the masturbation of a male. The inflexion point of the growth curve for free-ranging individuals was estimated at 15 years. Raising tortoises on intensive feeding regimes in captivity may considerably shorten generation times during the breeding stage of restocking programmes, and slow-growing animals are more likely to thrive after release into the wild. Investigations on the health of offspring from fast-growing parents are lacking.


pdf 14. Erratum


Open Access

pp. 217-217