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 4, October 2012

pdf 01. The Italian wall lizard, Podarcis siculus, along the Tuscanian coast of central Italy: biometrical features and phenotypic patterns


Open Access

pp. 207-212
Authors: Zuffi, M.A.L.; Casu, V. & Marino, S.

Abstract: The Italian wall lizard, Podarcis siculus, has a wide distribution. However, information on several aspects of its ecology and biology are scarce, and relate mainly to insular populations. This paper describes the main morphological features of 123 individuals along a geographical gradient (five localities) in northwestern Tuscany (central Italy). Our results show a strong sexual dimorphism in most of the considered parameters, high geographic variation, low interaction between sex and locality and a similar distribution of external parasite load and tail autotomy between the sexes.


pdf 02. Mating patterns of Bufo raddei from three high altitude populations in southwestern China


Open Access

pp. 213-217
Authors: Yu, Tong Lei & Lu, Xin

Abstract: This study investigated the mating system of Bufo raddei during two breeding seasons at three different elevations in southwestern China. The degree of sexual size dimorphism (SSD) differed significantly among populations. However, we did not find that amplectant males were larger in SVL than non-amplectant males within each population. Similarly, forelimb length of males found amplexed with females was not significantly different to non-amplectant males among sites. Moreover, we did not find a significant correlation between the body size of males and females from amplectant pairs within any of the sites or in any of the years, showing a random mating pattern with respect to size. Thus, we suggested that the large male aggregations and short pre-spawning period may limit opportunities for large males to have advantages in mating contests and for either sex to choose a large mate at a given site. A further possible explanation is that female toads compromise on mate quality to ensure conspecific matings.


pdf 03. Sexual dimorphism in the forelimb muscles of the Asiatic toad Bufo gargarizans


Open Access

pp. 219-224
Authors: Mi, Zhi Ping

Abstract: Theory predicts that sexual dimorphism evolves as a consequence of sexual selection. I studied sexual dimorphism in ten forelimb muscles used in the amplexus of Bufo gargarizans (deltoideus, pectoralis, coraco-humeralis longus, coraco-humeralis brevis, sterno-radialis, flexor carpi radialis, extensor carpi radialis, abductor indicus longus, extensor digitorum communis longus and flexor digitorum communis), and three forelimb muscles not involved in amplexus (infraspinatus, latissimus dorsi and triceps branchii). Muscle mass was higher in males for all muscles considered. Males found in amplexus had significantly larger forelimb muscles involved in amplexus than non-amplectant males (exceptions: coraco-humeralis longus and abductor indicus longus), whereas the mass of the three muscles not involved in amplexus did not differ between amplectant and non-amplectant males. My findings suggest that a male-mating advantage depends on the absolute mass of muscles involved in amplexus, in line with the assumption that sexual dimorphism in forelimb muscle mass has evolved under sexual selection.


pdf 04. High prevalence of the amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) across multiple taxa and localities in the highlands of Ethiopia


Open Access

pp. 225-233
Authors: Gower, David J.; Doherty-Bone, Thomas M.; Aberra, Roman K.; Mengistu, Abebe; Schwaller, Silvia; Menegon, Michele; de Sá, Rafael; Saber, Samy A.; Cunningham, Andrew A. & Loader, Simon P.

Abstract: Surveys of the potentially lethal amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis - Bd) in Africa are patchy, especially in some regions of high species endemicity. We present results of the first Bd surveys of wild amphibians in Ethiopia, for two upland regions on either side of the Rift Valley: the Bale Mountains and the Kaffa region. Surveys were opportunistic so that robust interpretation of the data is limited. Utilizing diagnostic qPCR assays, 51 out of 120 frogs (14 species in 10 genera) tested positive for Bd at altitudes of 1,620–3,225 m, across all genera and species, and all but two localities. Prevalence was not significantly different between the two regions or two years (2008, 2009) sampled. Prevalence and parasite load was higher in species with aquatic tadpoles than those with terrestrial early life-history stages, but these differences were not significant. Impacts of Bd infection were not investigated, but no dead or dying frogs were found. This is the first report of Bd in Ethiopia, a country in which approximately 40% of its more than 60 species are endemic. Declines have occurred in some frog species in some localities in Ethiopia, and although habitat degradation is a likely cause in at least some places, further studies of Bd in Ethiopia are required to understand if it is a threat.


pdf 05. Frequency of successful reproduction and time of nest emergence of hatchlings of the European pond turtle in the northern part of its distribution area


Open Access

pp. 235-239
Authors: Mitrus, Sławomir; Najbar, Bartłomiej & Kotowicz, Adam

Abstract: We have analyzed long-term (1987–2011) data on the reproduction of the turtle Emys orbicularis in western and central Poland. In contrast to earlier evidence, which suggested that E. orbicularis rarely reproduces successfully in the northern part of its distribution area, we document successful reproduction in at least 16 out of the last 20 seasons, including annual reproduction since 1998. Hatchlings emerged either in late summer or autumn, or overwintered in nests and emerged between late February and May of the following year.


pdf 06. Ranging behaviour and home range size of smooth snakes inhabiting lowland heath in southern England


Open Access

pp. 241-247
Authors: Reading, C. J.

Abstract: Individually marked smooth snakes inhabiting a 10 ha area of lowland heath in southern England were studied between 1993–2011 and their movements estimated from capture data. During this period a total of 109 male and 82 female snakes were identified providing 177 inter-location distances from which to investigate overall, and seasonal, movements of adult and sub-adult males and females. The mean distances moved, between successive captures, by adult males was approximately 50% greater than that moved by adult females or sub-adult males and females. Monthly mean distances moved by adult females and sub-adult males and females were all very similar and, with the exception of May and July, were lower than those moved by adult males. During May, when mating occurs, the distance moved by adult males was almost identical to that of adult females suggesting a link with breeding.

The capture locations of 18 female and 18 male smooth snakes, whose range was assumed to be totally within the study area, also enabled home range areas to be estimated for these four categories of snake. The mean home range size of adult males (1.85 ha) was double that of adult females (0.87 ha), about four times larger than that of sub-adult males (0.46 ha) and approximately six times larger than that of sub-adult females (0.31 ha). The home range size of males increased sharply once sexual maturity was reached whilst that of females showed a more gradual increase as body length increased. The maximum home range sizes of adult male and female smooth snakes were 3.88 ha and 2.37 ha respectively. The movements and home range sizes of smooth snakes are compared with similar data found in other snake species


pdf 07. Acoustic communication in a Neotropical frog (Dendropsophus minutus): vocal repertoire, variability and individual discrimination


Open Access

pp. 249-257
Authors: Morais, Alessandro R.; Batista, Vinícius G.; Gambale, Priscilla G.; Signorelli, Luciana & Bastos, Rogério P.

Abstract: Acoustic signals are the most important communication mechanism for many anuran species. However, acoustic parameters can be influenced by several factors (e.g., body size, air temperature and social context). In the present study, we investigated the influence of the air temperature, morphological characteristics and distance between calling males on acoustic parameters of Dendropsophus minutus. In addition, we studied the entropy values of calls, acoustic variability (both within and among males) and the potential for individual discrimination. The observations were carried out between January 2009 and April 2011, in Piracanjuba, Goiás, central Brazil. Males of D. minutus emitted single and compound calls, composed by notes A, B and C. We observed that vocalizations may be influenced by snout-vent length, body mass, air temperature and distance between calling males (P<0.05 in all cases). Dominant frequency was the only variable classified as a static property. There was higher variability among males than within males in all parameters measured. Individual males of D. minutus may be discriminated by their vocalizations, with dominant frequency being the main acoustic variable used in individual discrimination. We conclude that the high variation in D. minutus calls might be important during mate choice process.


pdf 08. Offspring condition determines dispersal patterns in western whip snakes, Hierophis viridiflavus


Open Access

pp. 259-261
Authors: Rugiero, Lorenzo; Capula, Massimo; Vignoli, Leonardo & Luiselli, Luca

Abstract: Dispersal patterns from a communal nesting/birth site of hatchlings of the oviparous colubrid snake Hierophis viridiflavus were investigated using capture-mark-recapture data from a 17-year study. We found that hatchlings lighter at birth dispersed more than heavier ones, whereas after one year there was no difference in body mass between the individuals which rested close to their birth site and those which dispersed further. We interpret this result as an adaptive dispersal behaviour in which heavier newborn snakes are less inclined to disperse from the hatching site, whereas lighter snakes move further away to increase their foraging efficiency.


pdf 09. Characterization of nine polymorphic microsatellite loci in the dyeing poison frog Dendrobates tinctorius (Dendrobatidae), and their cross-species utility in two other dendrobatoid species


Open Access

pp. 263-265
Authors: Ringler, Eva; Rojas, Bibiana; Ringler, Max & Hödl, Walter

Abstract: While field and laboratory based studies have provided significant insights into the parental care and courtship behaviour of dendrobatoid frogs, a comprehensive assessment of their genetic mating systems and population genetic parameters has been precluded because of the lack of highly variable DNA markers. Here we document the development of nine novel polymorphic microsatellite markers for the dyeing poison frog Dendrobates tinctorius (Dendrobatidae). We found between three and 16 alleles per locus in 60 individuals (30 males, 30 females) from the field site Saut Pararé, French Guiana, with an average observed heterozygosity of 0.75. None of the loci deviated significantly from Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium or showed linkage disequilibrium. We also report successful cross-species amplification of the nine markers in two other dendrobatoid species (Allobates femoralis and Oophaga pumilio). These markers have the potential to aid in determining the genetic structure of local populations, identifying small-scale phylogenies such as parent-offspring relationships and will allow for cross-species comparisons within dendrobatoid species. Therefore, these markers can be applied to a wide range of scientific fields, such as conservation, behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology.


pdf 10. Visual display variations in neotropical lizards, Liolaemus quilmes (Iguania: Liolaemidae): relation to sex and season


Open Access

pp. 267-270
Authors: Halloy, Monique

Abstract: Visual displays in lizards are used to convey information related to species, sex, reproductive state, context and even individuality. Two displays that have been reported are headbobs, up and down movements of the head, and forelimb waves, circular movements of the forelegs, the former display generally being more conspicuous and frequent than the latter. Here I investigated these two displays in an iguanian neotropical species, Liolaemus quilmes, from northwestern Argentina. One-hundred-and-fifteen males and females were filmed over six years, in their habitat, during their daily activities. Headbob and forelimb display rates were compared between males and females and between the reproductive and post-reproductive seasons. In addition, the relation between headbob display rates and home range size was explored. As reported for many iguanian lizards, males made significantly more headbob displays than females in both the reproductive and post-reproductive seasons. They also performed more forelimb waves than females in both seasons. Finally, no correlation was found between headbob display rates and home range sizes in any of the two seasons, suggesting that although headbob displays have been associated with territorial defence it does not seem to be associated with the size of the defended area.


pdf 11. Taxonomic status and distribution of common toads in Iran


Open Access

pp. 271-274
Authors: Litvinchuk, Spartak N.; Mazepa, Glib O.; Kami, Haji G. & Auer, Markus

Abstract: We report several new localities of common toads from northern Iran. Based on the study of external morphology and a fragment of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene, the Iranian common toads were identified as Bufo eichwaldi. Maximum entropy modelling was used to estimate the effects of altitude, precipitation and temperature on the distribution of B. eichwaldi. The distribution of the species is linked to a forest zone on the slopes of the Talysh and Elburz mountains.



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