The British Herpetological Society

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 2017/18  impact factor of the Herpetological Journal is 1.268

Volume 23, Number 4, October 2013

pdf 01. Survival and abundance of Cape dwarf chameleons, Bradypodion pumilum, inhabiting a transformed, semi-urban wetland


Open Access

pp. 179-186
Authors: Katz, Eric M.; Tolley, Krystal A. & Altwegg, Res

Abstract: The Cape dwarf chameleon, Bradypodion pumilum, inhabits urban areas within a critically endangered ecosystem. In this study, temporal dynamics of local demographic parameters were investigated for a population of B. pumilum inhabiting a 0.56 hectare patch of transformed habitat bordering an urban area in Noordhoek, South Africa. Robust Design (RD) capture-mark-recapture (CMR) models were used to estimate population demographics because of their ability to distinguish and account for temporary unavailability of individuals versus being captured. RD models were fit to one year of CMR data to examine adult survival and local abundance. Additionally, multi-strata (MS) models were used to analyze chameleon growth rate and size-specific survival. The results indicate the site supports a fluctuating abundance of individuals, ranging from ca. 25–91 adult chameleons. Larger chameleons showed higher 30-day and annual survival rates than smaller individuals regardless of sex (30-day range: 0.56–0.84; annual range: 9.51x10-5–0.12). Chameleons that survived to the beginning of each age class spent on average 1.1 months at 40–50 mm; 1.7 months at 50–60 mm; 2.5 months at 60–70 mm; and 6.3 months at >70 mm. Despite seasonality in the environment, there was no significant seasonal variation in chameleon survival. These findings indicate chameleon population dynamics characterized by local population fluctuations despite predominately constant, low survival; our findings suggest reproduction drives population fluctuations. Bradypodion pumilum's high fecundity and low survival should allow for their persistence in disturbed habitats assuming they are able to take advantage of suitable conditions. Alternatively, these biological traits may make B. pumilum prone to large demographic fluctuations, yielding a high risk of local extinction. This study provides temporal data on local population dynamics and survival for a potentially threatened reptile species inhabiting altered habitats.


pdf 02. Body size variation of odorous frogs (Odorrana grahami) across altitudinal gradients


Open Access

pp. 187-192
Authors: Li, Shu Ting; Wu, Xue; Li, Da Yong; Lou, Shang Ling; Mi, Zhi Ping & Liao, Wen Bo

Abstract: We used skeletochronology to determine the ages of 249 (93 females, 108 males and 48 juveniles) odorous frogs (Odorrana grahami) from four locations covering an altitudinal span of 1030–1860 m in Sichuan Province, western China. We found distinct lines of arrested growth (LAGs) from excised toe bone for 242 individuals, and each LAG was assumed to represent one year of age. In disagreement with Bergmann's rule, body size of four O. grahami populations did not change clinally along the 830 m altitudinal gradient. Average adult SVL and age differed significantly among populations in females, but not in males. For both sexes, age did not predict body size. When removing the effects of age, we found significant inter-population differences in body size only for males. Post-metamorphic growth rates in males were highest from the lowest altitude, whereas growth rates of females were highest at high altitudes. Our findings suggest that, apart from age, ecological factors such as trophic resources or predation further shape body size differences between populations and sexes.


pdf 03. Amphibian abnormalities: Historical records of a museum collection in Tucuman Province, Argentina


Open Access

pp. 193
Authors: Medina, Regina G.; Ponssa, María L.; Guerra, Cecilia & Aráoz, Ezequiel

Abstract: We analyze patterns of abnormalities in anurans from Tucumán, Argentina, deposited in the Fundación Miguel Lillo collection. We examined 1651 specimens collected between 1940 and 2010. Overall abnormality prevalence was 4.4% for post-metamorphic individuals. The most common types of abnormalities affected the hindlimbs, and concerned reductions in the number of phalanges. Abnormality prevalence for post-metamorphic individuals did not vary by species or region, but varied temporally over the 50 year dataset. Overall abnormality prevalence was higher for tadpoles (30%), and the most common types of abnormality were extraneous projections in the marginal papillae of oral discs. In tadpoles, abnormality types varied among species, development stages and affected oral disc regions.


pdf 04. Monsoon does matter: annual activity patterns in a snake assemblage from Bangladesh


Open Access

pp. 203-208
Authors: Rahman, Shahriar Caesar; Rashid, S.M.A.; Das, Kanai; Jenkins, Chris & Luiselli, Luca

Abstract: During the last decades annual activity patterns of temperate snake species have received considerably more attention than those of tropical snakes. In this study, we document the monthly activity patterns of a species-rich assemblage of snakes from a tropical forest-plantation mosaic in Bangladesh based on specimens collected by a systematic road kill survey for 14 months, and relate them to the climatic characteristics of the study area with special reference to monsoon regimes. We recorded 503 Dead-On-Road (DOR) snakes, belonging to 30 different species, with a mean DOR/km rate of 0.247. Overall, snake activity was uneven throughout the year, being particularly intense during July, August and October, and significantly reduced in December, January and February. Five out of nine species with considerably robust sample sizes showed consistently uneven monthly activity patterns. Monsoon seasonality deeply influenced the phenology of several Asian-tropical snakes, with some species being active especially at the middle or end of the monsoon period while others are active throughout the monsoon period.


pdf 05. Herpetofaunal responses to anthropogenic habitat change within a small forest reserve in Eastern Ecuador


Open Access

pp. 209
Authors: Beirne, Christopher; Burdekin, Oliver & Whitworth, Andrew

Abstract: One of the key drivers of worldwide species loss is habitat change, defined as habitat deforestation, fragmentation and deterioration. We studied the effects of structural habitat change on herpetological richness and diversity in the Yachana Reserve, Amazonian Ecuador, using pitfall traps and visual encounter surveys between 2009 and 2010, recording 1551 amphibians of 37 different species and 234 reptiles of 27 species. Estimated species richness and diversity was less in pastureland and plantation habitats. Abandoned plantations supported relatively high abundances of individuals, but were markedly depauperate in species richness and diversity. Abandoned pastureland showed the opposite trend, retaining higher species richness and diversity than abandoned plantation sites, but in significantly lower relative abundances. We emphasize the importance of small reserves with a matrix of anthropogenic disturbance in preserving areas of primary habitat and providing areas of secondary regeneration. Such reserves can aid in the identification of the factors that underlie inter-specific variation in response to habitat change at the species level.


pdf 06. Chameleons on the cruise: seasonal differences in prey choice of two dwarf chameleons


Open Access

pp. 221-227
Authors: Carne, Liza & Measey, G. John

Abstract: Chameleons exhibit unique foraging behaviour among lizards. They are classified as cruise foragers, an intermediate foraging mode between sit-and-wait and active foraging, but it is not known whether cruise foraging is seasonally adaptive. Seasonal changes in stomach contents and available prey were quantified for two dwarf chameleon species: Bradypodion ventrale from coastal thicket habitats and B. taeniabronchum from montane fynbos habitat. Around twice the number of invertebrates were available in the fynbos and thicket habitats during summer; moreover the volume of invertebrates available during summer was approximately double. We found that chameleons increased the number of food items in winter to equal summer stomach volumes, and these changes were particularly evident for the montane species B. taeniabronchum. Winter austerity was shown for both chameleons as they were more likely to take hard prey in winter, compared to summer when hard prey items were avoided.


pdf 07. Age and body size of the toad Bombina maxima in a subtropical high-altitude population


Open Access

pp. 229-232
Authors: Huang, Yan; Zhu, Hong Qing; Liao, Yong Mei; Jin, Long & Liao, Wen Bo

Abstract: We used skeletochronology to determine age and body size of large-webbed bell toads (Bombina maxima) from a subtropical, high-altitude population in southwestern China. Mean age did not differ between the sexes. Minimum age at sexual maturity was two years for both sexes, and maximum longevity was six years for males and five years for females. Males were larger than females, also when accounting for the effect of age. A significant relationship between age and body size was only found for males. Sex showed no interaction with age, and age-size relationships did not differ between the sexes. These results suggest that longevity is an important factor accounting for differences in body size between the sexes.


pdf 08. No detection of the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) in a multi-species survey of Ireland's native amphibians


Open Access

pp. 233-236
Authors: Gandola, Robert & Hendry, Catriona R.

Abstract: We present the results of the first survey undertaken to determine the status of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) on the island of Ireland. All three species of Ireland's native amphibian fauna were sampled, resulting in 195 skin swabs obtained from 22 locations in eight counties across the island. Using Bd-specific DNA primers in quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) analysis, all samples tested negative for the presence of chytrid. These results may be considered good news for Ireland's amphibians, however we advise that the establishment of a long-term monitoring system will be essential for future management.


pdf 09. Chytridiomycosis surveillance in the critically endangered Montseny brook newt, Calotriton arnoldi, northeastern Spain


Open Access

pp. 237-240
Authors: Obon, Elena; Carbonell, Francesc; Valbuena-Ureña, Emilio; Alonso, Mónica; Larios, Raquel; Fernández-Beaskoetxea, Saioa; Fisher, Matthew C. & Bosch, Jaime

Abstract: Chytridiomycosis, a disease caused by the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has caused significant declines of amphibian populations in different areas of Spain. The critically endangered Montseny brook newt (Calotriton arnoldi) is endemic to the mountain region of Montseny in Catalonia, northeast Spain. As part of its conservation plan, special attention was needed to evaluate the population health status, which remained uncertain. From 2007 to 2011, we conducted a survey in Montseny Natural Park and examined 158 Montseny brook newts, 14 fire salamanders and 2 common toads for the presence of Bd using quantitative real-time Taqman PCR (qPCR) assay. All samples were negative to this pathogen suggesting that Bd is absent in the region or present in such a low level that it was undetected. The implementation of disease surveillance in wildlife, especially in endangered species, is of crucial importance for the detection of subclinical infection and prompt adoption of counter measures.


pdf 10. Farewell to the bottle trap? An evaluation of aquatic funnel traps for great crested newt surveys (Triturus cristatus)


Open Access

pp. 241-244
Authors: Madden, Neil & Jehle, Robert

Abstract: Aquatic funnel traps are an established technique for the capture of newts. In the United Kingdom they are widely used for commercial surveys of great crested newts (Triturus cristatus) to comply with EU regulations during land developments such as construction activities. The present study demonstrates that widely-used traps constructed from plastic bottles could become replaced by more efficient funnels such as collapsible nylon traps. To achieve this, we followed standard UK survey protocols to systematically compare bottle traps with nylon traps at six ponds with known T. cristatus occurrences in western France. Out of 296 T. cristatus records, nylon traps yielded 79.7% of all captures and 83.3% of all recaptures. Standardized population size class estimates based on capture numbers were equal to or higher using nylon traps than with bottle traps, and nylon traps outperformed bottle traps for more precise population size estimates based on capture-mark-recapture. We suggest that bottle traps could be replaced by nylon traps during standard surveys for aquatic newts in the UK and elsewhere.


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