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.

 ISSN 0268-0130

2021 Impact Factor from Clarivate for the Herpetological Journal is 1.194, an increase of 0.332 from 2020.

Volume 25, Number 4, October 2015 Volume 25, Number 4, October 2015

pdf 01.Marine turtles (Chelonia mydas and Caretta caretta) nesting along the eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey: Results from six years of surveying


Open Access

pp. 197-204

Authors: Can Yılmaz, Ayşe Oruç & Oğuz Türkozan

Abstract: The nesting biology of green and loggerhead sea turtles (Chelonia mydas and Caretta caretta) on Akyatan, Ağyatan, Tuzla and Yumurtalık Nature Reserve beaches along the eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey was investigated during six consecutive nesting seasons (2006–2011). A total of 2198 C. mydas and 104 C. caretta nests were recorded, with an annual mean of 366 and 17 nests, respectively. Akyatan was the main breeding site for both species. We recorded a total of 5879 C. mydas emergences, with 2171 (37%) resulting in nests (mean of 362 nests per year); the mean nesting density was 16 nests km-1. A total of 1335 (61%) C. mydas nests from Akyatan beach were excavated. We recorded 151,758 eggs, 116,309 of which (77%) hatched, producing 88,673 hatchlings which were able to reach the sea. The annual number of nests ranged from 170 (2007) to 562 (2006), with a statistically non-significant decrease throughout the study period (Spearman r=-0.20, p>0.05). The main threats were predation of eggs and hatchlings by jackals, plastic pollution and vehicle ruts that hindered the hatchlings progress to the sea.

Keywords: Chelonia mydas, Caretta caretta, marine turtles, Mediterranean, Turkey

pdf 02. Deep genetic differentiation within Janetaescincus spp. (Squamata: Scincidae) from the Seychelles Islands


Open Access

pp. 205-213

Authors: D. James Harris, Ana Perera, Joana Valente & Sara Rocha

Abstract: Genetic diversity within the burrowing skink genus Janetaescincus, endemic to the granitic Seychelles Islands, was assessed using mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences. Considerable diversity was recovered, up to 15.9% for the partial cytochrome b gene sequences, with at least three groups distinguishable at a level of differentiation more typically observed between species. Even within small islands such as Silhouette and Frégate, multiple clades co-occur, and within Silhouette this seems at least partially related to altitude. Comparisons between markers may indicate some hybridisation between clades. Dating estimates suggest these splits occurred within the Miocene, and were therefore not directly associated with Pleistocene sea level changes. We recommend referring to a species complex pending an integrative taxonomic revision of the group.

Keywords: c-mos, cytochrome b, MC1R, phylogeography, Scincidae, Seychelles

pdf 03. Age, growth and life-history parameters of an endemic vulnerable lizard from Patagonia, Argentina


Open Access

pp. 215-224

Authors: Facundo Cabezas-Cartes, Jorgelina M. Boretto & Nora R. Ibargüengoytía

Abstract: For ectotherms like lizards, temperature plays a key role in shaping life history traits such as age and size at sexual maturity, longevity and growth. In cold, temperate habitats like Patagonia, balancing the energy expended to growth and reproduction is vital for persistence. In the present study, age and growth of the lizard Phymaturus spectabilis were studied using skeletochronology. We estimated individual ages, growth rates and life history parameters related to growth and reproduction. Juveniles were up to five years old. The youngest adult male was six years and the youngest adult female was seven years of age; females reached a higher longevity, and the oldest specimen was a female of 12 years. Resulting from the short activity season of Patagonia, P. spectabilis were characterised by delayed sexual maturity and medium longevity. Considering the rather short reproductive lifetime and small clutch size, P. spectabilis is characterised by the lowest net reproductive rate documented for liolaemids so far. This suggests that the capability to demographically recover from disturbances is low.

Keywords: age, life-history, Liolaemidae, sexual maturity, skeletochronology

pdf 04.Habitat use by smooth snakes on lowland heath managed using ‘conservation grazing’


Open Access

pp. 225-231

Authors: Christopher J. Reading & Gabriela M. Jofré

Abstract: Heathland in the UK, and parts of mainland Europe, is being managed increasingly by landowners and statutory conservation bodies e.g., Natural England, using cattle grazing which is often referred to as ‘conservation grazing’ in an attempt to justify its use in the absence of any detailed prior research into its actual benefits for wildlife species whose individual habitat requirements are likely to vary. Over four years, between 2010 and 2013, cattle were excluded from six hectares of lowland heath that had been subject to annual summer cattle grazing between May 1997 and autumn 2009 and in which reptile numbers had been monitored annually since 1997. Changes in smooth snake (Coronella austriaca) numbers were recorded annually in the ungrazed area and in a four hectare area of heathland adjacent to it that continued to be grazed. The number of individual smooth snakes, and the total number of smooth snake captures, were significantly higher in the ungrazed heath than the grazed heath and were associated with increased habitat structure, resulting principally from tall heathers and grasses. The results of the study suggest that the use of cattle grazing as a management tool on lowland heath is detrimental to smooth snake populations and that their recovery, following the cessation of grazing, may take many years.

Keywords: Agrostis curtisii, Calluna vulgaris, cattle grazing, Coronella austriaca, habitat degradation, habitat structure, Molinia caerulea, Ulex minor

pdf 05.The autecology of Anolis brasiliensis (Squamata, Dactyloidae) in a Neotropical Savanna


Open Access

pp. 233-244

Authors: Daniel O. Mesquita, Gabriel C. Costa, Adriano S. Figueredo, Frederico G.R. França, Adrian A. Garda, Ana H. Bello Soares, Leonora Tavares-Bastos, Mariana M. Vasconcellos, Gustavo H. C. Vieira, Laurie J. Vitt, Fernanda P. Werneck, Helga C. Wiederhecker, & Guarino R.Colli

Abstract: Anole lizards represent one of the best studied radiations of terrestrial vertebrates. Herein we examine the autecology of Anolis brasiliensis from the Cerrado of central Brazil, based on a large amount of data collected across much of its geographic range. Species Distribution Modelling (SDM) techniques revealed that A. brasiliensis likely has a wider distribution than currently verified. For ecological comparisons, we tested whether i) body temperature is influenced by microhabitat, ii) sexes differ in diet, iii) sexes differ in morphology, and iv) climatic variables influence reproduction. Lizards were collected primarily in seasonally dry forests and gallery forests. Body temperature is strongly associated with air temperature at 5 cm above the substrate. The most important diet items were Araneae, Orthoptera and Formicidae, and high diet niche overlap exists between sexes. Females are significantly larger in body size than males. Males, however, have larger heads than females. Due to allochronic ovulation, A. brasiliensis largely have clutches with single eggs. Females often contain an oviductal egg and an enlarged vitellogenic follicle, suggesting the production of multiple clutches largely in the rainy season from October to January. Recruitment occurred mostly from January to April. Anolis brasiliensis is ecologically more similar to other anoles than to sympatric lizards in other major clades. These results reiterate the impact of evolutionary history on ecological and life history traits of squamate reptiles.

Keywords: Activity, body temperatures, Cerrado, clutch size, diet, reproduction, sexual dimorphism

pdf 06. Identifying Ranid urostyle, ilial and anomolous bones from a 15th century London well


Open Access

pp. 245-255

Authors: Charles A. Snell

Abstract: The accurate identification of bones from archaeological excavations is critical for the understanding of past faunas. In the United Kingdom, remains from East Anglian fens suggest that more anuran species existed in Saxon times than is the case today. Here, novel methods have been devised to determine the identity of anuran ilia and urostyle bones. These methods were used on remains from a 15th century archaeological site 200 metres north of St Paul's Cathedral, London, originally assumed to be common frog (Rana temporaria) with one possible water frog (Pelophylax sp.) imported as human food. The results suggest that the majority of the ca. 500 year old urostyle remains can be attributed to (in order of likelihood) P. lessonae, R. arvalis or R. dalmatina. The approaches described here complement existing methods and allow for more robust future identifications from zooarchaeological remains. A method is also suggested for taking the effect of growth on different parts of the same bone into account, thereby making bones of various sizes more comparable.

Keywords: archaeological remains, bones, Britain, identification, ilia, Pelophylax, range, Rana, urostyle

pdf 07. Spatial variation in species composition of Saprolegnia, a parasitic oomycete of amphibian eggs, in Scotland


Open Access

pp. 257-263

Authors: A.P. Muir, E. Kilbride & B.K. Mable

Abstract: Parasitic water moulds in the genus Saprolegnia cause mortality of amphibian embryos and reduced size at metamorphosis, leading to increased adult mortality. Most studies of virulence have focused on only a single Saprolegnia species, but the Saprolegnia species associated with amphibian eggs and their distributions are not well known. This study aimed to investigate the distribution of amphibian-associated water moulds in Scotland. In particular, we asked the questions: i) Does Saprolegnia species composition vary between sites?; and ii) Is presence of Saprolegnia related to environmental parameters? Common frog (Rana temporaria) eggs with evidence of Saprolegnia infection were sampled from ten sites, cultured, and the 28S region of the rDNA array sequenced. Thirteen samples isolated from four sites were identified as members of the Saprolegniaceae and the ITS region of these samples were subsequently sequenced to further resolve species identification. Four species of Saprolegnia were found in total, with one or two species of Saprolegnia present in each of four sites. S. diclina was the most common species identified and was found at three of the four sites. Acidity was significantly lower and altitude significantly higher at sites where Saprolegniaceae were present. Therefore, R. temporaria eggs in different pools are subject to infection by different, and in some instances more than one, species of Saprolegnia. Overall, our findings suggest that future studies of virulence need to consider the effect of multiple Saprolegnia species within a site as well as the population of origin of the amphibian host.

Keywords: disease ecology, Rana temporaria, Scotland, water mould

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Please note that as from Volume 31 Number 1 (January 2021) on, the Herpetological Journal will be available as an online publication only - the last print edition will be Volume 30 Number 4.   

Aligning with this change, it is now no longer possible to purchase a subscription that includes a print copy of the HJ.  All members who have existing HJ print subscriptions that remain active as at end June 2020 will receive the full four 2020 print editions.  New subscribers or renewals after this time will only have option to subscribe to the online only subscription package.  Subscription pricing has been amended to reflect the content changes.