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

ISSN 0268-0130

Volume 30, Number 2, April 2020 Volume 30, Number 2, April 2020

pdf 01. Discovering the biogeographic history using predefined areas and explicit geographical data in the South American Liolaemus elongatus group (Iguania: Liolaemidae)


Subscription / purchase required

pp. 53-68

Authors: María Soledad Ruiz, Sabrina Noelia Portelli, Thomas Nathaniel Hibbard & Andrés Sebastián Quinteros

Abstract: The genus Liolaemus includes 268 species, classified in two subgenera, Eulaemus and Liolaemus sensu stricto. The latter is formed by 12 monophyletic groups; one of them being the Liolaemus elongatus group, distributed in South America. We studied the biogeographic history of the L. elongatus group. We obtained a phylogenetic hypothesis recovering five main clades: the L. punmahuida, L. elongatus sensu stricto, L. kriegi, L. petrophilus and L. capillitas clades. Based on that hypothesis we obtained a time calibrated tree. The ancestral ranges were estimated applying three methodologies: DEC, DEC+j (using predefined areas) and GEM (using explicit geographical data). Our results show that the ancestral area of the L. elongatus group was located in central Argentina, and its divergence began around 11.5 Mya. From here, a combination of events (founder events and/or vicariances) led the species to their current distribution. Despite their differences, DEC+j and GEM show congruent results.

Keywords: biogeography, divergence times, ancestral area, lizards

pdf 01a. Supplementary Materials to Discovering the biogeographic history using predefined areas and explicit geographical data in the South American Liolaemus elongatus group (Iguania: Liolaemidae)


Subscription / purchase required

Authors: María Soledad Ruiz, Sabrina Noelia Portelli, Thomas Nathaniel Hibbard & Andrés Sebastián Quinteros

pdf 02. Snakes and the Eternal City: variation in community metrics, body size and population density of snakes in contrasted landscapes of suburban Rome (Italy)


Subscription / purchase required

pp. 69-82

Authors: Lorenzo Rugiero, Luca Luiselli, Massimo Capula, Fabio Petrozzi, Massimiliano Di Vittorio, Nic Pacini, Leonardo Vignoli, Daniele Dendi, Giuliano Milana, Giovanni Amori & Roger Meek

Abstract: Reports of global declines in animal populations are now numerous and also include snakes, a group of animals now widely regarded as bio-indicators. A prerequisite for any conservation management plan to protect or restore snake populations requires a data base that provides insight into population composition and changes. However, snakes are well known to be particularly difficult to quantitatively sample due to their secretive and elusive nature, and hence accumulating an adequate
database for analysis requires long-term field studies that involve intensive searches. Populations of four snake species, Zamensis longissimus, Natrix helvetica, Vipera aspis and Hierophis viridiflavus living in two suburban areas of Rome with different extents of habitat alteration (deforestation), Vejo, a less altered site, and Tor Bella Monaca, a high altered site, have been monitored, but with interruptions since 1995. The results indicated that H. viridiflavus was the commonest species at both sites. Male bias was found in all four species but especially in Z. longissimus and V. aspis with detection of juveniles greatest in H. viridiflavus and N. helvetica. Snout to vent lengths (SVL) of H. viridiflavus and Z. longissimus, which were present at both sites, were greater at the less degraded habitat of the two study localities. Community metrics indicated that the
degraded habitat had lower species richness, evenness, Shannon and Simpson diversity indices, but a higher dominance index. Recapture frequencies of snakes recaptured either once or multiple times were in general greater at Vejo. The highest population densities were found in H. viridiflavus, followed by V. aspis and N. helvetica, which were similar. However, long term trends in densities show declines in V. aspis and N. helvetica between 1995 and 2019. Population densities were in good agreement with density estimates found in previous studies of snakes in more natural habitats.

Keywords: snakes, long-term population changes, suburban areas, Rome, Italy

pdf 03. Dominance and aggression in captive gidgee skinks (Egernia stokesii)


Subscription / purchase required

pp. 83-92

Authors: Holly Baines, Beatrice Gini, Yu-Mei Chang & Christopher J. Michaels

Abstract: Dominance is a key component of behaviour in many animal species and is central to social system dynamics, resource acquisition, individual fitness and ultimately reproductive success. We investigated dominance interactions and social behaviours in a group of captive juvenile gidgee skinks (Egernia stokesii). We hypothesised that a dominance hierarchy existed within the group, and that aggressive behaviours would be used to secure limited resources, especially high-value
resources. We also hypothesised that body weight would be positively correlated with dominance and aggressive behaviours. We filmed the lizards at 1200 hours for six days a week over the course of eight weeks. We exposed the lizards to three different diets, which consisted of an animal-based diet (crickets), plant-based diet (plants), and a non-feeding control (no food offered). The relative value of these resources to the skinks was established through preference tests. We identified a dominance hierarchy, with dominant individuals exhibiting more aggressive behaviours than subordinates. We found that the frequency of aggressive behaviours was significantly higher in trials where high-valued resources (crickets) were at stake. Furthermore, we found a significant positive correlation between body weight and dominance, bite and chase;
larger individuals were ranked higher in the social hierarchy compared to smaller individuals. Our results demonstrate the importance of morphological and behavioural traits in determining a dominance hierarchy in E. stokesii and how dominance can have ecological advantages.

Keywords: dominance, aggression, body weight, behaviour, interaction, lizards

pdf 04. Aliens in the backyard: Did the American bullfrog conquer the habitat of native frogs in the semi-deciduous Atlantic Forest?


Subscription / purchase required

pp. 93-98

Authors: L. Ferrante, F. B. Baccaro & I. L. Kaefer

Abstract: The American bullfrog Lithobates catesbeianus has a natural distribution in North America, but was spread by human activities in different regions around the world. It is listed as the most invasive amphibian species, affecting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and the community of native species. In addition, the American bullfrog is extensively associated with lethal pathogens, with high correlation of the presence of this species with population declines and extinctions. Here we test if this alien species has spread through the landscape, establishing populations at new locations. We used diverse methods including georeferencing of satellite images, ethnobiological interviews and field data to evaluate the dispersion and effects of L. catesbeianus introduction on amphibian composition, species number, and density of individuals in forest fragments in an Atlantic Forest landscape. We did not find any relationship between density of individuals, number of species or composition of the native anuran assemblages in forest fragments in relation to the presence or proximity of American bullfrog introduction points. Additionally, we found that the dispersion potential of this species in the studied landscape is zero, as it was only found in those fragments where it was specifically introduced 15 years ago. The species has not established new populations in the landscape. Although exotic, L. catesbeianus thrives in lentic habitats and has no apparent effect on the structural metrics of the native anuran assemblage. Despite this alien species exhibiting a capacity to adapt and survive at the point of introduction, its potential for propagation is limited probably by the fragmented terrestrial landscape and regional stream network.

Keywords: amphibians; anurans; biological invasions; community ecology; exotic species; fragmented landscape; freshwater biology; landscape ecology.

pdf 05. Chytrid infection in Asia: How much do we know and what else do we need to know?


Open Access

pp. 99-111

Authors: Md. Mokhlesur Rahman, Mahatub Khan Badhon, Md. Salauddin, Md. Fazle Rabbe & Md. Sirajul Islam

Abstract: We conducted a systematic review to evaluate the knowledge base for amphibian chytrid Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) infection in the continent of Asia. Despite an indication of geographic bias in terms of studying chytrid fungus distribution in Asia, 167 amphibian species (145 spp. native to Asia) from 16 countries have been reported as infected with Bd. Our meta-analysis shows that overall prevalence is 8.19 % (out of 28,433 samples), and Bd-positive rate in amphibia significantly varies among sampling sources (χ2= 380.57, DF= 6, P< 0.001) and age categories (χ2= 22.09, DF= 2, P< 0.001). We used Kernel Density analysis to produce a hotspot map for chytrid infection, and Digital Elevation Model to understand the distribution of chytrid positive locations across different elevations. In our meta-analysis, most of the Bd-positive sites range between 4.45–27.49 °C, 167–4,353 mm rainfall, 10–40°N, and at lower elevations ( Bd across Asia. Although no mass die-off events have been reported so far, Maximum Entropy modelling shows that Bd distribution and infection may potentially occur across a vast region of south-east Asia. In conclusion, we call for more systematic research and monitoring strategies in place for countries with little to no information, but have a moderately higher risk of chytrid distribution and infection.

Keywords: chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, chytridiomycosis, emerging infectious disease, amphibian conservation, amphibian disease, Asia

pdf 05a. Supplementary Materials to Chytrid infection in Asia: How much do we know and what else do we need to know?


Open Access

Authors: Md. Mokhlesur Rahman, Mahatub Khan Badhon, Md. Salauddin, Md. Fazle Rabbe & Md. Sirajul Islam

pdf 06. People’s perceptions of crocodiles in Nigeria


Subscription / purchase required

pp. 112-116

Authors: Edem A. Eniang, Godfrey C. Akani, Daniele Dendi, John E. Fa & Luca Luiselli

Abstract: Throughout Africa, feelings towards crocodiles vary according to the danger or fear experienced by communities living alongside them. Crocodile conservation programmes must therefore be based on reliable assessments of cultural attitudes towards these reptiles. In this study, we interviewed a random sample of 300 persons in six states in southern Nigeria to determine their perception of crocodiles. Our results revealed that most respondents were very familiar with crocodiles, with animals being regularly sighted but only in small numbers. Most interviewees were aware of just two crocodile types, consistently describing the dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis) and the West African Nile crocodile (Crocodylus [niloticus] suchus); only a minority of respondents reporting they were aware of the West African slender-snouted crocodile (Mecistops cataphractus).

Keywords: Crocodylus; Osteolaemus; Mecistops; local ecological knowledge; conservation; West Africa

pdf 06a. Supplementary Materials to People’s perceptions of crocodiles in Nigeria


Subscription / purchase required

Authors: Edem A. Eniang, Godfrey C. Akani, Daniele Dendi, John E. Fa & Luca Luiselli

Download Access:

The latest 8 issues can be downloaded when logged in with a Herpetological Journal subscription membership.

Individual articles can be purchased for download.

Older issues and occasional Open Access articles are available for public download


For further information and submission guidelines please see our Journal Instructions to Authors

pdfBHS Ethics Policy


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.