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 22, Number 3, July 2012

pdf 01. Chemosensory responses to alcohols found in femoral gland secretions of male Iberian wall lizards Podarcis hispanica

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pp. 139-143
Authors: Gabirot, Marianne; López, Pilar & Martín, José

Abstract: In lizards, femoral gland secretions of males can have an important role in intraspecific communication. However, the chemosensory responses of lizards to specific compounds found in femoral secretions have been little studied. Steroids are the most abundant compounds in secretions, which have been shown to have a signalling function. However, other type of compounds might also be important. In this paper, we explored the role of alcohols in communication of Iberian wall lizards, Podarcis hispanica. We studied chemosensory behaviour, by measuring tongue flick rates, to test whether lizards could recognize several alcohols that are naturally found in femoral secretions. Results showed that lizards can discriminate and show chemosensory responses of different magnitude to different alcohols. The existence of high responses to alcohols suggest that, in addition to steroids, alcohols may also have a signalling function in femoral secretions of male P. hispanica lizards.


pdf 02. Size-fecundity relationships and reproductive investment in females of Physalaemus riograndensis Milstead, 1960 (Anura, Leiuperidae) in Uruguay

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pp. 145-150
Authors: Pereira, Gisela & Maneyro, Raúl

Abstract: We describe the reproductive biology of female Physalaemus riograndensis from Uruguay. Mature ovaries with postvitellogenic oocytes were extracted from females to obtain an index of reproductive investment (RI). Monthly variation in snout-vent-length (SVL, n =328) suggests a seasonal variation in reproductive activity. Gravid females were found between October and April. RI values were generally lower than RI in other species in the genus. There was a positive correlation between SVL and fecundity for both linear and exponential models. Relative size of fat bodies was highest during the period of highest reproductive activity, suggesting that they retain energy for vitellogenic activity. The reproductive dynamics of P. riograndensis resembles one of prolonged breeding anurans.


pdf 03. Ectoparasite loads of the Central American Whiptail Lizard Ameiva festiva (Squamata: Teiidae)

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pp. 151-155
Authors: Ramírez-Morales, Raúl; Lislevand, Terje; Retana-Salazar, Axel; Solhøy, Torstein & Roth, Steffen

Abstract: We studied relative abundance, sex ratio, sexual maturity, body size and mite loads of the lizard Ameiva festiva in grassland, primary and secondary forest in the Caribbean region of Costa Rica. A total of 51 individuals were captured using drift fences with pitfall and funnel traps. With equal sampling efforts across sites, 19 individuals were caught along a gap within secondary forest, 29 individuals were caught at a grassland site and three specimens were caught in primary forest. The proportion of immature individuals differed significantly among sampling sites in the three habitats, whereas sex ratio did not. Snout-vent length did not differ between sexes or habitats. The chigger mite Eutrombicula alfreddugesi was the only ecto-parasite found to infest A. festiva. Proportionally more lizards were infested in the grassland site (86%) than in the secondary forest site (10%), a finding which is unlikely to result from differential mite densities in the two habitats. The number of mites on each individual increased with body size in grassland, but not in secondary forest where almost no individuals were infested. We found no effects of sex or stage on mite loads. The average infestation intensity was 21 mites (range 1 – 115) per individual.


pdf 04. Ectoparasites in the endangered Utila spiny-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura bakeri)

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pp. 157-161
Authors: Gutsche, Alexander; Mutschmann, Frank; Streich, Wolf Jürgen & Kampen, Helge

Abstract: Ectoparasites of adult spiny-tailed iguanas (Ctenosaura bakeri) from Isla de Utila, Honduras, an endemic lizard listed as Critically Endangered under IUCN criteria, were studied for the first time. Three ectoparasitic species were identified: Amblyomma dissimile, Ornithodorus talaje, and Hirstiella boneti; the latter two are reported from Honduras for the first time. Of 125 iguanas examined, 60% were infested: A. dissimile occurred on 2.4%, O. talaje (larvae only) on 43.2% and H. boneti on 40% of individuals. Preferred attachment sites of H. boneti were the ear openings (18.4%) and the limbs (16%), while the nidicolous O. talaje larvae occurred only in the nostrils. Male iguanas were significantly more often infested than females when considering all three parasites (77.2% and 45.6%, respectively), O. talaje (61.4% and 28%, respectively) and H. boneti (56.1% and 26.5%, respectively); infestation prevalence of both species increased significantly with body size in males. Heavily infested animals or visual evidence for direct pathogenic effects in C. bakeri were not observed, suggesting that ectoparasites currently do not pose a serious risk to this endangered iguana.


pdf 05. Habitat management and global warming positively affect long-term (1987–2011) chorus counts in a population of the European tree frog (Hyla arborea)

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pp. 163-171
Authors: van Buggenum, Harry J.M. & Vergoossen, Willem G.

Abstract: We investigated the importance of habitat measures and climate variables on the development of a managed European tree frog (Hyla arborea) population based on chorus counts between 1978 and 2011, using Akaike's Information Criterion (AICc) to select the best predictors. Pond area increased over the study period through site management, and was the most important variable in all models. In the density independent models, the annual numbers of calling males were positively correlated with total area of ponds two years before the count, a time lag which corresponds with the time needed for metamorphs to mature. Mean daily temperature, the total amount of precipitation during the breeding season (both with a 2 year time lag) and high winter temperature before the breeding season also had positive effects on the H. arborea population. A linear regression of temperature with study years revealed an annual increase of 0.08 °C, whereas precipitation showed no trend. Yearly population growth rates were furthermore density-dependent, and influenced by temperature during breeding season. Our study showed that a combination of habitat management practices and increasing temperatures likely through global warming positively affected the H. arborea population.


pdf 06. Effects of nutrient enrichment and changes in the background tadpole community on American bullfrog tadpoles

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pp. 173-178
Authors: Smith, Geoffrey R. & Burgett, Amber A.

Abstract: Given its large geographic range and its ability to use a variety of aquatic systems, the tadpoles of American bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus) are likely exposed to a variety of background anuran communities and anthropogenic stressors. To examine how changes in the environmental context affect American bullfrogs, we manipulated the presence and overall density of American toad (Anaxyrus americanus) and Gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor) tadpoles to alter the biotic environment, and manipulated nutrients (nitrate and phosphate) to alter the abiotic environment, mimicking the effects of agricultural run-off. At low background tadpole densities, enrichment had a positive effect on American bullfrog tadpole mass when the background tadpole community consisted of Gray treefrog tadpoles only, but had a negative effect when the community contained American toad tadpoles (either alone or with Gray treefrogs). The situation was reversed at high background tadpole densities. Nutrient enrichment decreased survivorship in American bullfrog tadpoles. Our results suggest that the wide variety of environmental contexts in which American bullfrog tadpoles are found throughout their native and non-native ranges are likely to affect their success.


pdf 07. Reptile habitat preference in heathland: implications for heathland management


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pp. 179-182
Authors: Stumpel, Anton H.P. & (Bert) van der Werf, D.C.

Abstract: A two-year reptile survey was conducted in a heathland in the north of the Netherlands, using artificial refuges placed in different habitats. The studied habitats differed in their botanical composition and physical structure. Five reptile species were recorded: slow worm (Anguis fragilis), viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara), smooth snake (Coronella austriaca), grass snake (Natrix natrix) and adder (Vipera berus). Randomization tests were applied to assess the relationship between the presence of reptile species and habitat. Highest numbers of reptiles were found in habitats with a combination of common heather and purple moor grass, whereas habitats with common rush scored the lowest. The slow-worm preferred habitats consisting of common heather or crowberry, or a combination of these plants with purple moor grass. The viviparous lizard preferred habitats with common heather and purple moor grass. The impact of current nature management on the maintenance and development of these habitats is discussed, and recommendations are given for reptile faunal management.


pdf 08. Batrachochytriumdendrobatidis not found in rainforest frogs along an altitudinal gradient of Papua New Guinea

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pp. 183-186
Authors: Dahl, Chris; Kiatik, Ismale; Baisen, Ismale; Bronikowski, Ed; Fleischer, Robert C.; Rotzel, Nancy C.; Lock, Justin; Novotny, Vojtech; Narayan, Edward & Hero, Jean-Marc

Abstract:  Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a fungal pathogen often responsible for amphibian declines worldwide. We report here survey on Bd in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The survey for Bd was conducted along a rainforest altitudinal gradient from Madang (50 m a.s.l.) to Mt. Wilhelm (3700 m a.s.l.). We swabbed 249 frogs of 63 native species at nine sites to quantify the number of Bd zoospore equivalents using real-time Syber Green Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR). We found no evidence for Bd. The lack of Bd may be due to 1) hot climate all year round inhibiting the spread of Bd in the entire lowland areas of PNG, 2) low number of non-native amphibian introductions to PNG such as Lithobates catesbeianus or Xenopus spp. or 3) the lack of invasive introductions by humans due to geographic isolation. While it is difficult to discern between these hypotheses, an effective quarantine should be devised to protect PNG from future disease outbreak. International assistance is needed in conservation education and research to assist the local scientists in monitoring and protecting these rich fauna from future Bd outbreaks.


pdf 09. Diet of invasive clawed frog Xenopus laevis at Lage stream (Oeiras, W Portugal)


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pp. 187-190
Authors: Amaral, Patrícia & Rebelo, Rui

Abstract: We present data on the trophic ecology of Xenopus laevis, introduced in two streams at Oeiras, Western Portugal. During 2007, we captured and euthanized 70 individuals during two field seasons (July and September) in one stream. The diet included a wide variety and size range of mainly benthic prey, with water snails (Physidae) being the most important. Xenopus laevis also preyed on native fish and amphibians. There were differences in the diet between sexes (males showing higher prey diversity). Our results demonstrate the ability of this exotic amphibian to adapt to a wide range of conditions.


pdf 10. Presence of the amphibian chytrid pathogen confirmed in Cameroon

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pp. 191-194
Authors: Baláž, Vojtech and Kopecký, Oldich and Gvoždík, Václav

Abstract: A fungal pathogen of amphibians, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), was detected in contemporary amphibian populations in the lowlands of the Congo Basin, Cameroon. The proportion of infection was low (1.4%; 1/70), and no clinical symptoms were observed. At a distant mountain site the survey failed to detect Bd. Given the likely origin of Bd on the African continent, the low prevalence and infection intensity could provide evidence for host-pathogen coevolution resulting in a partial resistance. Considering the suitable climate for Bd and the rich amphibian fauna, we suggest that the Cameroonian highlands should be further monitored.


pdf 11. Cross-amplification of microsatellite loci for species of the genus Testudo

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pp. 195-198
Authors: Cutuli, Giulia; Pierpaoli, Massimo; Cardoso, Sandra; Vannini, Marco & Fratini, Sara

Abstract: European tortoises of the genus Testudo are becoming seriously threatened mainly due to habitat urbanization and illicit pet trade. In this study we tested the cross-amplifications of 23 microsatellite genetic markers (isolated from Testudinidae and Emydidae) in five (sub)species of the genus Testudo. A subset of 8–10 polymorphic loci was defined across the tested taxa, providing new tools for hybrid assignment, population genetic studies and parental tests.


pdf 12. Grass snakes (Natrix natrix) in Sweden decline together with their anthropogenic nesting-environments


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pp. 199-202
Authors: Hagman, Mattias; Elmberg, Johan; Kärvemo, Simon & Löwenborg, Kristin

Abstract: In this paper we show that the number of grass snake (Natrix natrix L.) specimens deposited in Swedish museum collections has declined in the last eighty years, and that this is correlated with a dramatic national decrease in the number of livestock holdings. These results support the hypothesis that Swedish grass snakes are declining and that this may be linked to a loss of important nesting-environments provided by open manure heaps in small-scale farming. Our study suggests that information obtained from museum databases potentially may be used to explore population trends for snakes and other reptiles.


pdf 13. Age, body size and clutch size of Rana kunyuensis, a subtropical frog native to China

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pp. 203-206
Authors: Chen, Wei; Wu, Qing Gui; Su, Zhi Xian & Lu, Xin

Abstract: Age, body size and clutch size are important demographic traits directly related to the life history strategy of a species, but little is known about these parameters in Rana kunyuensis, a frog endemic to China. In the present study, we investigated body size, age structure and clutch size of this species in a population from Mt. Kunyu. Age at maturity of males and females was 1 year and 2 years, respectively. The maximum age of males and females was 4 and 5 years, respectively. Females were significantly larger than males. Our results revealed a positive correlation between age and body size; however, body size was not a good indicator of age because there was an extensive overlap in body size among age classes. Clutch size was also positively correlated with body size. These data provide the first detailed life history information for Rana kunyuensis.