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 28, Number 3, July 2018 Volume 28, Number 3, July 2018

pdf 01. Deep Mitochondrial and Morphological Differentiation of Hemidactylus persicus Anderson, 1872 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) in Iran


Open Access

pp. 101-109

Authors: Mahboubeh Sadat Hosseinzadeh, Mansour Aliabadian & Eskandar Rastegar-pouyani

Abstract: With currently 149 species, Hemidactylus Oken, 1817 is one of the most species-rich genera of the family Gekkonidae. In this study, 50 Hemidactylus persicus and H. romeshkanicus from southern Iran and three specimens of the newly described species H. kurdicus from north-eastern Iraq were screened using sequences of the mitochondrial 12S rRNA gene (approximately 400 bp) with two H. hajarensis as outgroups. In addition, 58 specimens were analysed morphologically using 25 mensural and six meristic characters. The genetic data recovered six well supported clades of H. persicus and H. romeshkanicus in southern Iran, which also showed morphological differentiation with the exception of specimens from Khuzestan and Fars provinces.
Principal Coordinates Analysis (PCoA) and haplotype networks are compatible with our phylogenetic tree and morphological analyses. These findings highlight deep mitochondrial and morphological variation of H. persicus from Iran. Interestingly, our phylogenetic inference revealed that H. romeshkanicus should be regarded as a valid species, whereas H. kurdicus is not a distinct evolutionary lineage and synonymous with H. romeshkanicus.

Key words: Gekkonidae; Iranian plateau; Phylogeny; Radiation; Species complex

pdf 02. Corticosterone measurement in Komodo dragon shed skin


Open Access

pp. 110-116

Authors: Annaïs Carbajal, Oriol Tallo-Parra1, Laura Monclús, Manel Aresté, Hugo Fernández-Bellon, Vanessa Almagro & Manel Lopez-Bejar

Abstract: The analysis of corticosterone (CORT), the main glucocorticoid in reptiles, via blood or faeces provides an index of hormone concentrations over a relatively short time period. Unlike these conventional matrices, snake shed skin is supposed to incorporate circulating CORT over the period of skin growth, thus reflecting long-term retrospective levels of the hormone. The present study aimed to assess the feasibility to extract CORT from shed skin of Komodo dragon and biochemically validate the quantification of the hormone by enzyme immunoassay (EIA). Additionally, possible sources of variation in shed skin CORT that could reflect biological variation were examined (sex, age, body region and season of ecdysis). Results of the biochemical validation showed that CORT can be reliably measured in shed skin of Komodo dragon by EIA through the presented methodology. Males presented statistically higher levels of CORT than females, and when accounting for males’ seasonal differences, concentrations decreased significantly from spring to summer. Juveniles showed higher CORT values than adults, however, results should be interpreted with caution since the model revealed that date of ecdysis was significantly influencing CORT levels. Besides that, concentrations of CORT were not influenced by body region. Overall, the present study demonstrates a potential biological source of variation in shed skin CORT concentrations due to sex, age and season of skin ecdysis. Combined with other indicators, detection of CORT concentrations in shed skin could allow a systematic control of Komodo dragon’s physiology, offering a useful tool for zoo management and providing key data for the species conservation.

Key words: Chronic stress; Ecdysis; Glucocorticoid; Saurian

pdf 03. Temporal trends in agile frog Rana dalmatina numbers: results from a long- term study in western France


Open Access

pp. 117-122

Author: Roger Meek

Abstract: Reports of amphibian declines have highlighted the urgent need for long-term data sets to increase understanding of population changes. To detect population changes in the agile frog Rana dalmatina in Vendée, western France, counts were made of spawn masses over 16 years and road mortalities over 13 years. Long-term trends were evaluated using regression analysis of the logarithmic transforms of annual mortalities and egg masses as dependent variables against year as the independent variable. Tests of the regressions against a 0 hypothetical coefficient, indicative of population stability, gave coefficients that were positive for road mortalities and negative for spawn counts. However, neither was significantly different from 0, indicating a stable population. Further analysis using jackknifing produced a series of pseudo-regression coefficients, which agreed with the true regressions. Results from both datasets were therefore congruent and indicated wide annual fluctuations, with a major increase in numbers between 2009 and 2014. Data from spawn deposition in a recently established pond suggested that the presence of invasive crayfish Procambarus clarkii influenced both deposition sites and long-term population changes.

Key words: Rana dalmatina, long-term populations, spawn counts, road mortalities


pdf 04. Effects of chronic corticosterone increases on the maternal behaviour of the prairie skink, Plestiodon septentrionalis


Open Access

pp. 123-126

Authors: Alexander J. Anton, Tracy Langkilde, Sean Graham & James D. Fawcett

Abstract: Maternal care behaviour is rare in reptiles and the hormonal control of this behaviour is less well known than in other vertebrates. The steroid hormone, corticosterone, suppresses maternal behaviour in avian species. We investigate whether corticosterone similarly affects maternal behaviour of a lizard. We artificially elevated corticosterone in female prairie lizards, Plestiodon septentrionalis, during egg brooding and assessed effects on maternal behaviour (versus females receiving a vehicle control). The application of exogenous corticosterone significantly decreased the amount of time that females spent in contact with their eggs. These results suggest that, as in birds, corticosterone acts to reduce maternal behaviours in reptiles. This provides important insight into the hormonal control of, and effects of stress on, parental care in reptiles.

Key words: Brooding, stress, eggs, hormone, lizard, parental care, reptile

pdf 05. Genetic diversity of common toads (Bufo bufo) along the Norwegian coast: disjunct distribution of locally dominant haplotypes


Open Access

pp. 127-133

Authors: Serap Şenol Tuncay, Steffen Roth, Fevzi Bardakci & Robert Jehle

Abstract: Little is known about the phylogeographic history of amphibian populations along the western Fennoscandinavian coast. In the present study, we focus on the common toad (Bufo bufo) and document the spatial distribution of mitochondrial DNA (cytb) haplotypes at 20 localities along its coastal Norwegian range. Two common haplotypes (out of eight haplotypes in total) were represented by 142 out of the 154 (92%) investigated individuals. However, they were shared at only three localities and clustered at two separate geographic regions each. The most common haplotype (55% of individuals) has previously been found to be abundant across central and eastern Europe, whereas the second most common haplotype (37% of individuals) has so far only been recorded in Sweden. The disjunct distribution of genetic lineages is in line with an assumption that the Norwegian coastline was postglacially colonised both from the south as well as across mountain passes from the east. Our data support previous studies on the phylogeography of Fennoscandinavia that revealed that post-glacial recolonisation patterns led to a pronounced spatial structure of local populations.

Key words: phylogeography, Fennoscandinavia, cytb, mitochondrial DNA, Bufonidae

pdf 06. Evidence of loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta, Linnaeus, 1758) injuries caused by Rapido (beam) trawling in the Mediterranean


Open Access

pp. 134-136

Authors: Alessandro Lucchetti, Valeria Angelini, Giovanni Furii, Sauro Pari, Claudio Vasapollo & Massimo Virgili

Abstract: The loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta, Linnaeus, 1758) is the most abundant sea turtle species in the Mediterranean Sea, where commercial fishing appears to be the main driver of mortality. The North Adriatic Sea (central Mediterranean) is a major feeding habitat for turtles in the demersal stage. Its shallow and flat seabed is ideal for bottom-towed gears, making interactions with sea turtles and incidental catches unavoidable. We provide evidence of the impact of Rapido trawls (a type of beam trawl) on sea turtles through the analysis of the distinctive injuries sustained by four turtles.

Key words: Caretta caretta; Loggerhead turtle; Sea turtlefisheries interaction, Rapido trawl, Sea turtle injuries, Mediterranean Sea.

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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.