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.

NOTE: as of January 2017, all new editions of the HJ are ONLY available online via the BHS website. The BHS no longer has a commercial hosting agreement with Ingenta  -  although editions prior to end 2016 remain accessible on Ingenta .  Those editions are of course also accessible on the BHS website for subscribers with an active and valid membership.  Should you experience any difficulty accessing HJ editions via the website or have any queries in this regard, please contact webmaster@thebhs.org

  

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Folder Volume 24, Number 3, July 2014

pdf 01. The importance of natural history and species-specific approaches in amphibian ex-situ conservation

647 downloads

Open Access

pp. 135-145
Authors: Michaels, Christopher J.; Gini, Beatrice F. & Preziosi, Richard F.

Abstract: Due to the importance of ex-situ components of the response to the on-going amphibian extinction crisis, the numbers of captive amphibian species and populations is growing. However, ex-situ projects are currently often poorly supported by knowledge of the captive husbandry requirements of individual amphibian species, many of which are being taken into captivity for the first time. Natural history data and measurements of wild environmental parameters are critical in designing appropriate captive environments, but are absent for the majority of species held in captivity. This has resulted in the failure of some exsitu projects and is likely to affect many future initiatives. Publication biases away from natural history and amphibian-specific research, the inaccessibility of data in academic literature for conservation institutions and lack of time for preparative surveys before 'rescue' attempts are largely responsible for this data deficit. In many cases, conservation groups must collect their own data where existing information is insufficient. We suggest important parameters to record in the field and discuss the importance of considering the microclimates in which wild amphibians live when determining the methodology of recording parameters. Furthermore, we highlight the important role that public databases should fulfil to store and disseminate data. All in all, this perspective piece demonstrates the need for natural history data and outlines a road map for their efficient collection and for their practical integration into conservation programmes.

Keywords: ENVIRONMENTAL PARAMETERS, AMPHIBIAN, EX-SITU, NATURAL HISTORY, CAPTIVE BREEDING, CAPTIVE HUSBANDRY

pdf 02. Sexual dimorphism in the limb muscles of the dark-spotted frog, Pelophylax nigromaculata

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pp. 147-153
Authors: Mao, Min; Mi, Zhi Ping; Yang, Zhi Song & Zhou, Cai Quan

Abstract: It has been shown in many anurans that males with larger body size have a mating advantage. However, robust forelimb muscles rather than large body size per se might increase the likelihood of mating. To this end, we investigated sexual dimorphism of nine forelimb muscles and nine hindlimb muscles of Pelophylax nigromaculata. We found that three forelimb muscles involved in axillary amplexus were heavier in males compared to females, whereas five forelimb muscles not involved in axillary amplexus showed no sexual differences in muscle mass. The observed muscle dimorphism was allometric, and could be the result of sexual selection. The analysis on hindlimb muscle mass revealed a largely female-biased sexual dimorphism, likely related to females being heavier. There was a positive correlation between forelimb and hindlimb muscle mass and SVL for both sexes. There was no significant sexual difference in the contents of water in musculature except for the extensor carpi radialis.

Keywords: PELOPHYLAX NIGROMACULATA, MUSCLES, SEX SELECTION, SEXUAL DIMORPHISM

pdf 03. Between-year consistency of anuran assemblages in temporary ponds in a deforested area in Western Amazonia

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Open Access

pp. 155-160
Authors: Venâncio, Nathocley M.; Lima, Albertina P.; de Souza, Moisés B. & Magnusson, William E.

Abstract: Many studies have shown that forest fragments are depauperate in forest-dependent fauna, and that fragments are invaded by generalist or colonising species. However, rather than representing generalist species, the anurans that occur in disturbed areas around forest remnants may represent a specialist fauna with its own complex interactions rather than generalist species capable of colonising any water bodies available for reproduction. We studied anuran assemblages in 10 temporary ponds around a forest fragment in the State of Acre, Brazil, on the southern border of the Amazon forest, between October and June in 2008, 2009 and 2010. We recorded 24 species in 6 families. Assemblages in ponds were temporally stable, indicating strong deterministic control of assemblage composition. Although they contain fewer species than found in the original forest, these assemblages inhabiting novel ecosystems are highly structured and probably have complex interactions with their biotic and abiotic environments. They are worthy of further study.

Keywords: ANURAN ASSEMBLAGES, TEMPORAL STABILITY, FIDELITY, EPHEMERAL PONDS

pdf 04. Global warming, body size and conservation in a Qinghai-Tibet Plateau lizard

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pp. 161-166
Authors: Huang, Yan; Wu, Xue; Li, Yan Hong & Liao, Wen Bo

Abstract: Global mean temperatures have increased by 0.3–0.6°C since the late 19th century, affecting the physiology, distributions, phenology and adaptations of plants and animals. In the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, average annual temperatures increased by an average of 0.25°C per decade from the 1970s to the 1990s, and by an average of 0.34°C per decade thereafter. Using museum collections from the 1950s to the 2000s and published references, we tested the hypothesis that body size of the toad-headed lizard Phrynocephalus vlangalii in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau declined between 1954 and 2008 as a response to global warming. However, body size of males and females did not vary significantly between 1954 and 2008, probably due to the reciprocity between higher food availability and earlier age at sexual maturity. We suggest that human activity might result in declining population sizes in the future despite the lack of an apparent current response to changing climates.

Keywords: TOAD-HEADED LIZARD, BODY SIZE, QINGHAI-TIBET PLATEAU, GLOBAL WARMING

pdf 05. Huge but moderately long-lived: age structure in the mountain chicken, Leptodactylus fallax, from Montserrat, West Indies

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pp. 167-173
Authors: Guarino, Fabio Maria; Garcia, Gerardo & Andreone, Franco

Abstract: We applied skeletochronological methodology to assess the age and growth in one of the largest living anurans, the mountain chicken Leptodactylus fallax. We analysed bone cross-sections obtained from wild animals found dead after a chytrid outbreak in Montserrat in 2009, and from captive individuals which are part of a breeding program at Jersey Zoo. Lines of arrested growth (LAGs) were visible in both groups. Individuals reared in captivity reached an older age than their wild counterparts. At the same age, captive males and females were larger than wild individuals. A literature screening of age and snout-vent length (SVL) for 46 species ascribed to seven families (Bufonidae, Dicroglossidae, Leptodactylidae, Mantellidae, Microhylidae, Ranidae and Rhacophoridae) showed that the largest species were also the most long-lived. With a maximum documented SVL of 280 mm and a maximum longevity of 9 years, L. fallax reached a higher body size as predicted by age, representing a case of gigantism probably associated with adaptation to an insular environment.

Keywords: MOUNTAIN CHICKEN, ISLANDS, LONGEVITY, LEPTODACTYLUS, SKELETOCHRONOLOGY, MONTSERRAT, TROPICAL ANURANS

pdf 06. A species distribution model for the endemic Cyprus whip snake (Hierophis cypriensis) is consistent with a transient period isolated evolution in the Troodos Range

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pp. 175-181
Authors: Baier, Felix; Nicolaou, Haris & Rödder, Dennis

Abstract: The Cyprus whip snake (Hierophis cypriensis Schätti, 1985) is endemic to Cyprus and occurs in forested regions of the Troodos Range in the central part of the island, but surprisingly, has not been reported from such areas in the Kyrenia Range of northern Cyprus. Here, we provide the first comprehensive GPS-based assessment of the distribution of this endangered snake in Cyprus. We use species distribution modelling to demonstrate that areas with suitable habitat for the Cyprus whip snake are largely limited to the Troodos Range. The Kyrenia Range contains only a few grid cells of medium habitat suitability according to the environmental parameters assessed. The Mesaoria Plain, which lies between the two mountain ranges, likely functions as an ecological barrier with unsuitable habitat conditions. Consistent with this pattern of distribution, we hypothesise that this species was restricted to the Troodos Range during the early phases of speciation. Adaptation to environmental conditions in the Troodos Range may have prevented subsequent range extension to other ecological niches when the rest of the island emerged.

Keywords: COLUBRIDAE, DISTRIBUTION, KYRENIA RANGE, DISPERSAL, SPECIATION, MODEL, ADAPTATION

pdf 07. Altitude decreases testis weight of a frog (Rana kukunoris) on the Tibetan plateau

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pp. 183-188
Authors: Chen, Wei; Pike, David A.; He, Dujuan; Wang, Ying; Ren, Lina; Wang, Xinyi; Fan, Xiaogang & Lu, Xin

Abstract: Producing sperm is energetically inexpensive, and strong competition for mating partners can lead to increased size of the testes in an effort to enhance reproductive success. On the other hand, selection on testes size can also be imposed by environmental conditions. We studied altitudinal variation and directional asymmetry in testis weight in a high-altitude frog (Rana kukunoris) endemic to the Tibetan plateau (2300–3500 m altitude). Testis weight decreased with increasing altitude and body size. The left testis was significantly larger than the right testis for all populations, and relative asymmetry between testes was unrelated to altitude or body size. The harsh environmental conditions at high altitudes may constrain the ability of males to allocate energy towards increased testis size. They could also be associated with altered operational sex ratios, thus reducing the strength of male-male competition.

Keywords: DIRECTIONAL ASYMMETRY, RANA KUKUNORIS, ANURA, TESTES, ENERGY ALLOCATION, ALTITUDE, REPRODUCTION

pdf 08. Is the response of a Neotropical poison frog (Ranitomeya variabilis) to larval chemical cues influenced by relatedness?

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pp. 189-192
Authors: Schulte, Lisa M. & Veith, Michael

Abstract: Offspring recognition via chemical cues is widely known among vertebrates. In order to test this capacity in the poison frog Ranitomeya variabilis, we analysed whether parental frogs deposit their tadpoles with closely related rather than unrelated tadpoles. We conducted poolchoice experiments with one pool presenting chemical cues of a tadpole previously found at the same location. Tadpoles were most frequently deposited in pools without tadpole cues and results of genetic analyses did not lead to the conclusion that frogs consider relatedness when choosing where to deposit tadpoles. We suppose that frogs discriminate possible tadpole deposition sites by location rather than by offspring recognition.

Keywords: OFFSPRING IDENTIFICATION, DENDROBATIDAE, CHEMICAL RECOGNITION, PHYTOTELMATA, PARENTAL CARE

pdf 09. Short term monitoring reveals the rapid decline of southern Madagascar's Critically Endangered tortoise species

621 downloads

Open Access

pp. 193-196
Authors: Walker, Ryan; Rafeliarisoa, Tsilavo; Currylow, Andrea; Rakotoniaina, Jean Claude & Louis Jr., Edward

Abstract: Southern Madagascar supports two of the world's most threatened chelonians, Pyxis arachnoides and Astrochelys radiata, both thought to be rapidly declining as a result of habitat loss and poaching; however, to date quantitative data on this decline is lacking. We applied a conventional distance sampling procedure, monitoring populations twice over a 24-month period across the species' respective distributions. Population density for P. arachnoides dropped from 2.4 tortoises/ha (95% CI; 1.6–3.4) to 1.5/ha (95% CI; 0.8–2.8). Astrochelys radiata dropped from 2.1 tortoises/ha (95% CI 1.2–3.5) to 1.5/h. (95% CI 0.7–3.3). Local community-based conservation initiatives need to be expanded to combat this decline.

Keywords: ASTROCHELYS RADIATA, CONSERVATION, DISTANCE SAMPLING, PYXIS ARACHNOIDES

pdf 10. Bufo gargarizans minshanicus males exhibit size-dependent mate choice but lack sex recognition: an experimental approach

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pp. 197-199
Authors: Yu, Tong Lei; Dang, Qian Kun & Chen, Jian Bin

Abstract:  Bufo gargarizans minshanicus is an explosively breeding species with intense male-male competition, leading to a large-male mating advantage and little opportunities for mate choice by males. In the present study, we experimentally show that B. g. minshanicus discriminates between the sizes of potential mating partners, however without discriminating between the sexes. We also show that their choice is limited or overruled by strong malemale competition in a natural population.

Keywords: MATE CHOICE, BUFO GARGARIZANS MINSHANICUS, SEX RECOGNITION, MALE DENSITY