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 21, Number 2, April 2011

pdf 01. Two new plant-breeding frog species (Anura: Mantellidae, Guibemantis) from southeastern Madagascar


Open Access

pp. 95-112
Authors: Lehtinen, Richard M.; Glaw, Frank & Vences, Miguel

Abstract: Based on morphology, advertisement calls and DNA sequences, we describe two new species of plant-breeding frogs in the genus Guibemantis (subgenus Pandanusicola) from coastal rainforests in southeastern Madagascar. Guibemantis annulatus sp. nov. is most similar to G. punctatus but differs in having a lighter background colour on the dorsum, smaller and more regularly rounded spots on the dorsum, conspicuous light “rings” just proximal to each toe or finger disc, a longer femur, tibia and foot, a wider head, larger femoral glands (in males), a greater internarial distance and large genetic differences. Guibemantis wattersoni sp. nov. is most similar to G. bicalcaratus but differs in having a larger body size, a larger tympanum, two conspicuous parallel rostral lines and conspicuous light “rings” just proximal to each toe or finger disc, in the characteristics of the advertisement calls and in large genetic differences. Also, unlike the described character state of all other known Pandanusicola, these species have completely separated paired subgular vocal sacs. Both of these new species are only found in phytotelms (typically in Pandanus plants), where they breed. Both new species also appear to be regional endemics and are of immediate conservation concern. We also redescribe G. punctatus based on new topotypical material and discuss the identity of G. bicalcaratus and other available names.


pdf 02. Between-population variation in body size and growth rate of hatchling Asian yellow pond turtles, Mauremys mutica


Open Access

pp. 113-116
Authors: Chen, Ye; Zhao, Bo; Sun, Bao-Jun; Wang, Yong & Du, Wei-Guo

Abstract: Two morphologically and genetically distinct populations were recently recognized in the Asian yellow pond turtle (Mauremys mutica), but little information is available on between-population variation in life-history traits. We collected eggs from Zhejiang (northern) and Hainan (southern) populations, and incubated them at constant temperatures of 26 °C and 30 °C. Hatchling body mass and early growth were determined in a common garden experiment to identify the intrinsic between-population difference in these life-history traits. Relative to egg size, hatchling body mass was larger in the Zhejiang population than in the Hainan population. Hatchlings from the Hainan population grew faster than their counterparts from the Zhejiang population. Growth rates differed between the sexes in the Hainan population (females > males), but not in the Zhejiang population. These results suggest that 1) eggs from the Zhejiang population might contain more energy and thus produce larger hatchings than eggs of the same size from the Hainan population, and 2) the intrinsic fast growth rate of hatchlings could be the reason for the larger adult size observed in the Hainan population.


pdf 03. Estimating potential reproductive costs in the survival of a xenosaurid lizard


Open Access

pp. 117-129
Authors: Zúñiga-Vega, J. Jaime

Abstract: Both females and males may suffer from increased mortality risk as a result of the activities and physiological processes associated with reproduction. In this study I estimated sex-specific reproductive costs in the survival rates of a viviparous and territorial lizard (Xenosaurus grandis grandis), accounting for the potential effects of population density, population growth rate and the size of individuals. I used a multi-model inference framework to test the following hypotheses: 1) female survival rate should decrease when they experience the late phases of embryo development and immediately after births take place; and 2) male survival rate should decrease when they search and compete for potential mates. Capture–mark–recapture data supported the first hypothesis but not the second. Female survival appeared to decrease right before and after parturition events. In contrast, male survival did not decrease during the mating season. I discuss the potential causes and implications of this sex-specific trade-off between reproduction and survival.


pdf 04. Trade-offs between reproductive coloration and innate immunity in a natural population of female sagebrush lizards, Sceloporus graciosus


Open Access

pp. 131-134
Authors: Ruiz, Mayté; Wang, Danfeng; Reinke, Beth A.; Demas, Gregory E. & Martins, Emília P.

Abstract: Trade-offs between immune function and reproduction are common to many organisms. Nevertheless, high energetic resources may eliminate the need for these trade-offs. In this study, we consider the effects of food availability on these trade-offs in a wild population of female sagebrush lizards (Sceloporus graciosus) during the breeding season. We manipulated food availability by supplementing some lizards but not others. We measured female orange side coloration as an indicator of reproductive state and calculated the bacterial killing capability of collected plasma exposed to Escherichia coli ex vivo as a measure of innate immunity. We found that female lizards show a natural trade-off between reproductive effort and immune function; females under high reproductive investment had lower innate immunity than those at a later reproductive state. We did not detect this trade-off with food supplementation. We show that trade-offs depend on the energetic state of the animal, illustrating that trade-offs between immune function and reproduction can be context-dependent.


pdf 05. Reproductive ecology of the stream-dwelling frog Feirana taihangnicus in central China


Open Access

pp. 135-140
Authors: Chen, Xiao Hong; Yang, Jie; Qiao, Liang; Zhang, Li Xia & Lu, Xin

Abstract: We studied the breeding ecology of Feirana taihangnicus, a stream-dwelling frog endemic to central China, in a forest-covered mountainous area in north Henan. Frogs emerged from hibernation in mid March and oviposition took place between late April and early May. About one week before the oviposition period, both sexes had swollen cloacas, with tubercles being present on the dorsal skin of adult males. Males never developed vocal sacs, nuptial pads or any other obvious structures used in amplexus. Males were smaller than females. Sex ratio of the breeding population was female-biased. Communal oviposition habitats, which were used repeatedly across years, were in sun-exposed, slow-flowing sections of the stream. Eggs were found on the underside of rocks, deposited in a single layer. Clutch size per female averaged 425 eggs and egg diameter 3.63 mm. Larvae spent up to 27 months in streams before completing metamorphosis. Mark–recapture data showed that 306–513 frogs were present during the breeding season along the 5.5 km long stream in 2006, but only 131 frogs were detected in 2010. Frogs tended to use the same oviposition sites across years. In light of these data we discuss conservation needs for this species, which has a restricted distribution, specialized habitat and extended larval period.


pdf 06. Sex recognition and mate choice in male Rana kukunoris


Open Access

pp. 141-144
Authors: Chen, Wei & Lu, Xin

Abstract: Mate recognition is important for successful reproduction, and consequently species have evolved various ways to recognize potential mates. Little is known about mate recognition in male Rana kukunoris, a temperate frog endemic to China. In the present study, we investigated experimentally whether male R. kukunoris can discriminate between conspecifics of different sexes, between gravid and non-gravid females of similar size, and between gravid females of different sizes. When offered the choice between a gravid female and a similar-sized male, the focal male attempted to clasp both sexes with equal frequency. Test males only released the stimulus frog when a release call was emitted by the stimulus male. Test males did not differentiate between gravid and nongravid females of equal size either. However, male frogs preferred large females over smaller females. The results suggest that male R. kukunoris discriminate between the sexes based on the release calls of males, and between females of different sizes using visual cues.


pdf 07. Skeletochronology of phalanges underestimates the true age of long-lived Alpine newts (Ichthyosaura alpestris)


Open Access

pp. 145-148
Authors: Wagner, Alexander; Schabetsberger, Robert; Sztatecsny, Marc & Kaiser, Roland

Abstract: Skeletochronology has become the most widely used method of ageing amphibians. However, bone remodelling, double lines and rapprochement of peripheral lines all hamper exact skeletochronological age determination. In a long-term field study, the age of long-lived Alpine newts (Ichthyosaura alpestris) from a high-altitude population was estimated from cross-sections of phalanges at the time of tagging with PIT tags and again 10–16 years later. The skeletochronologically assessed age at recapture underestimated the time since first capture by 2–19 years, and the observed deviance increased with increasing age estimates at first capture.


pdf 08. Age and body size of Rana kukunoris, a high-elevation frog native to the Tibetan plateau


Open Access

pp. 149-151
Authors: Chen, Wei; Yu, Tong Lei & Lu, Xin

Abstract: We compared age and body size of breeding individuals between two populations of Rana kukunoris, a species endemic to the eastern Tibetan plateau, at different altitudes (3400 m and 3100 m). Minimum age at maturity was three years for males and four years for females at 3400 m, and three years in both sexes at 3100 m. The oldest males were seven (3400 m) and six (3400 m) years old, and the maximum age in females was eight years in both populations; there was no significant difference in age structure between the two populations. Frogs at 3400 m had an average body length of 47.7 mm (±0.18) in males and 54.8 mm (±0.27) in females, significantly shorter than the 49.5 mm (±0.60) and 59.7 mm (±0.40) in males and females at 3100 m, respectively. At both sites, females were significantly larger than males. The reduced body size might be attributable to the shorter growing season at the higher site, and the sex difference in body size could be associated with earlier maturity in males than in females.