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 23, Number 3, July 2013

pdf 01. Migratory behaviour during autumn and hibernation site selection in common frogs (Rana temporaria) at high altitude

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pp. 121-124
Authors: Ludwig, Gerda; Sinsch, Ulrich & Pelster, Bernd

Abstract: Aquatic and terrestrial hibernation have both been reported for Rana temporaria, but it is as yet unclear which factors influence hibernation site choice. To investigate the hibernation behaviour of common frogs in alpine regions, we fitted 15 adult R. temporaria with radio transmitters in September 2011, and located them once a week over a 10 week period to their hibernation sites. The mean distance animals travelled between relocations was 19.4 m (SE=4.1). There was no difference in migratory behaviour between males and females. Distance moved between relocations was significantly influenced by season. Aquatic hibernation prevailed in our study population. One frog hibernated in a pond, seven in streams or springs and none in terrestrial microhabitats. Our results suggest that the onset of hibernation in common frogs is regulated by a combination of seasonal factors rather than temperature alone.

Keywords: MIGRATORY BEHAVIOUR, HIBERNATION SITE SELECTION, RANA TEMPORARIA, AMPHIBIANS, RADIO TELEMETRY

pdf 02. Visual implant elastomer (VIE) tags are an unreliable method of identification in adult anurans

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pp. 125-129
Authors: 

Abstract: There has long been debate over alternatives to toe-clipping as an individual marking method in anurans. Alternative methods include visible implant elastomer (VIE) tags and passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags. VIE tags are low cost, easy to insert and have been used successfully in reptiles, fish and salamanders without tag loss or movement. In this study, we tested whether two species of VIE-tagged anurans (captive Kihansi spray toads, Nectophrynoides asperginis, and leopard frogs Lithobates pipiens) experienced tag movement or loss that could lead to errors in individual identification. VIE tag movement occurred in 50% of the tags implanted which caused 70.6% of individuals to be potentially misidentified. These results demonstrate that the use of VIE tags to individually mark anurans can be highly unreliable. We therefore recommend either verifying the reliability of VIE tags through species- and life stage-specific pilot studies, or choosing another method of marking.

Keywords: CAPTURE-MARK-RECAPTURE, INDIVIDUAL IDENTIFICATION, LITHOBATES PIPIENS, NECTOPHRYNOIDES ASPERGINIS, VIE TAGGING

pdf 03. Do big dads make big babies? Paternal effects on larval performance in red-eyed treefrogs of Belize (Agalychnis callidryas, A. moreletti)

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pp. 131-138
Authors: Briggs, Venetia S.

Abstract: Under the good genes model of sexual selection, females prefer males with attributes that signify high genetic quality to improve offspring fitness. This study tested the hypothesis that female mating preferences result in enhanced offspring performance, owing to genetic variation among sires in two species of red-eyed treefrogs (Agalychnis callidryas and A. moreletii). The study provides evidence for paternal size effects on offspring traits, most notably on hatchling size, larval duration and size at metamorphosis. Large males of both species produced larger hatchlings relative to half-sibs. Larger hatchlings may have immediate growth and survival advantages that propel them through the larval period and suggests the potential for increased post-metamorphic fitness benefits. Large males of A. callidryas sired larger froglets and there were positive correlations between sire size and froglet traits for both species. Tadpoles of both species that remained in a longer larval period emerged from metamorphosis at a greater size. The two species share similar life history traits, but considerable inter-specific differences of paternal effects between A. callidryas and A. moreletii may help to explain the variation in breeding behaviour and tadpole biology within these two species. In this system, females may exercise directional selection for offspring at a larger metamorphic body size that will increase her fitness through enhanced survival and reproductive success.

Keywords: GOOD GENES, A. MORELETII, FEMALE CHOICE, AGALYCHNIS CALLIDRYAS, SEXUAL SELECTION, TADPOLE TRAITS

pdf 04. Autecology and mating behaviour of the spotted forest skink, Sphenomorphus maculatus (Blyth, 1853) in the monsoon forest of Cat Tien National Park, southern Vietnam

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pp. 139-144
Authors: Galoyan, Eduard & Geissler, Peter

Abstract: The autecology of the spotted forest skink Sphenomorphus maculatus (Blyth, 1853) is described for the first time. Individually marked animals within a chosen study site in a deciduous mixed forest in Cat Tien National Park, Dong Nai Province, southern Vietnam were observed in two adjacent years. Sphenomorphus maculatus is a diurnal, small terrestrial skink with a short lifespan of about one year, and an accordingly high growth rate. Shuttling is the main behavioural feature to maintain a body temperature of 31–32°C. These insectivorous skinks primarily demonstrate an actively foraging mode, feeding on active and immobile prey measuring 5–40 mm in size. The reproductive period starts in April, at the onset of the rainy season, and continues until May and June when females oviposit. Courtship and mating behaviour is strictly ritualized. Juveniles emerge at the end of the rainy season (August–September).

Keywords: MATING, GROWTH RATE, FORAGING, ACTIVITY, SPHENOMORPHUS MACULATUS, VIETNAM, THERMAL BIOLOGY, REPRODUCTION

pdf 05. The identity of the Chilean frog Alsodes laevis (Philippi 1902) (Cycloramphidae): Synonymy and generic partitioning of the type series

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pp. 145-152
Authors: Cuevas, C.C.

Abstract:  Alsodes laevis was described by Philippi (1902) as Telmatobius laevis based on two specimens deposited in the National Museum of Natural History of Chile by Lataste in 1887, and became later emended by Lynch (1978) as A. laevis. After its initial description, no further specimens were collected and attributed to A. laevis; the site of collection of these specimens remained so far elusive due to labelling problems. Based on new historical material and more detailed insights about their origin I argue that the type material of A. laevis comprises two different taxa. I thus propose a synonymy, and a generic partitioning for the taxon. Firstly, I describe the revalidation of T. laevis based on one type specimen, representing the southernmost Telmatobius species of Chile. I also argue that the other type specimen is a member of A. nodosus, which is known to exist in the more refined area of origin of the original specimens, the pre-Andean mountains of Santiago Province, Chile.

Keywords: CYCLORAMPHIDAE, AMPHIBIA, TELMATOBIUS LAEVIS REVALIDATION, ALSODES LAEVIS SYNONYMIZATION, TAXONOMIC IDENTITY, ANURA

pdf 06. Integrating mtDNA analyses and ecological niche modelling to infer the evolutionary history of Alytes maurus (Amphibia; Alytidae) from Morocco

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pp. 153-160
Authors: de Pous, Philip; Metallinou, Margarita; Donaire-Barroso, David; Carranza, Salvador & Sanuy, Delfi

Abstract: We aimed at determining the effects of past climatic conditions on contemporary intraspecific genetic structuring of the endemic Moroccan midwife toad Alytes maurus using mitochondrial DNA (12S, 16S and cytochrome b) analysis and ecological niche modelling. Unexpectedly, our genetic analyses show that A. maurus presents a low level of variability in the mitochondrial genes with no clear geographical structuring. The low genetic variation in mtDNA can be explained by a much broader climatic suitability during the Last Glacial Maximum that allowed the connection among populations and subsequent homogenization as a consequence of gene flow.

Keywords: HAPLOTYPE NETWORK, BIOGEOGRAPHY, MAXENT, MAGHREB, PLEISTOCENE GLACIATIONS, KOPPEN-GEIGER, MIDWIFE TOAD

pdf 07. Density of an environmental weed predicts the occurrence of the king brown snake (Pseudechis australis) in central Australia

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pp. 161-165
Authors: McDonald, Peter J. & Luck, Gary W.

Abstract: The king brown snake (Pseudechis australis) is a large and highly venomous elapid, which occurs throughout much of mainland Australia. Although an ecological generalist, anecdotal evidence suggests that individuals in the arid-zone are more frequently observed in proximity to dense grass cover. We tested the hypothesis that P. australis are more likely to be located close to dense grass cover in an arid region near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. We focused on the environmental weed buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris L.) because this species comprises the highest density of cover in the region. Under an Information-Theoretic framework we used logistic regression to model the occurrence of P. australis against a range of habitat variables expected to influence the snakes distribution and abundance. There was substantial support for our hypothesis with the model including only the variable buffel grass as the best ranked model predicting P. australis presence. The probability of recording P. australis in a location increased with the density of buffel grass cover. Eradicating or reducing buffel grass in and around built-up areas may reduce the risk of interactions between humans or domestic animals and P. australis.

Keywords: SNAKE, ELAPID, VENOMOUS, HABITAT

pdf 08. A first case of bilateral hermaphroditism in a wild-caught tadpole (Scinax fuscovarius)

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pp. 167-169
Authors: Goldberg, Javier

Abstract: True hermaphroditism, the presence of both ovarian and testicular tissues in a single individual, has been recorded in several anuran species as a result of the experimental exposure of tadpoles and juveniles to chemicals. Here, a case of hermaphroditism is reported in a wild-collected Scinax fuscovarius tadpole from an ephemeral pond near a village. The tadpole, at larval stage 41, had both a well developed ovary on the left side and an incipient testis on the right side, representing a case of bilateral mixed gonadal tissue. Both gonadal morphologies are similar to those observed in normal tadpoles at the same stage. This finding represents the first case of true hermaphroditism in a wild-caught tadpole.

Keywords: TRUE HERMAPHRODITISM, NATURAL CONDITIONS, ANURA, TADPOLE, GONADS

pdf 09. Social behaviour in the context of a limited resource in juvenile tortoises (Manouria emys)

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pp. 171-173
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Abstract: Social structures and dominance hierarchies are well documented in various species of tortoises, typically in sexually mature adults. We used artificial shelters to assess the effect of social setting and other factors that might affect dominance in juvenile Burmese mountain tortoises (Manouria emys). We found that the presence of other tortoises significantly increased the occupancy in our shelters, and larger tortoises occupied the shelters significantly more than did the smaller tortoises. Our results indicate clear existence of social structure in juvenile tortoises and suggest that the value of resources, such as shelters, may change under differing social conditions.

Keywords: DOMINANCE, SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR, MANOURIA EMYS, SHELTER USE

pdf 10. Characterization of seven new polymorphic microsatellite loci in the brilliant-thighed poison frog Allobates femoralis (Dendrobatidae), and their cross-species utility in three other dendrobatid species

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pp. 175-178
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Abstract: Here we document the development of seven novel polymorphic microsatellite markers for the brilliantthighed poison frog Allobates femoralis (Dendrobatidae). We found between six and 27 alleles per locus in 100 individuals (50 males, 50 females) from the field site 'Saut Pararé', French Guiana, with an average observed heterozygosity of 0.79. One locus (Afem 23) deviated significantly from Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium. We did not find any evidence for linkage disequilibrium among the new loci, or to seven of the already described markers for A. femoralis. We also report cross-species amplification of some of the markers in three other dendrobatid species (A. talamancae, Dendrobates tinctorius and Oophaga pumilio).

Keywords: MICROSATELLITE MARKER, POLYMORPHIC, DENDROBATIDAE, ALLOBATES FEMORALIS, CROSS-SPECIES AMPLIFICATION