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 31, Number 4, October 2021 Volume 31, Number 4, October 2021

pdf 01. Unusual lack of reproduction in toad populations from agricultural habitats


Open Access


pp. 197-200

Authors: Matthias Renoirt, Marion Cheron, Frédéric Angelier & François Brischoux

Abstract: Anthropogenic alterations of habitats can have detrimental consequences for biodiversity. Documenting these effects require monitoring in multiple sites that vary in the degree of alterations over long temporal scales, a task that is challenging. Yet, simple naturalist observations can reveal major ongoing events affecting
wild populations, and serve as a basis for further investigations. We quantified breeding parameters of spined toad (Bufo spinosus) populations from forested (preserved) and agricultural (altered) habitats. We found that reproduction did not occur at the sites surrounded by agriculture, while it occurred successfully in ponds
from forests. Males were present at all sites, but females, amplexus, egg strings and tadpoles remained absent from agricultural sites. Observations made at the same sites indicated that breeding occurred during previous years. Our observations of habitat- and sex-specific lack of reproduction may have critical consequences for the
persistence of populations of a widespread amphibian species in agricultural areas.

Keywords: Amphibian, Bufo spinosus, breeding, conservation, reproductive success


pdf 02. “Reconstructions of the past distribution of Testudo graeca mitochondrial lineages in the Middle East and Transcaucasia support multiple refugia since the Last Glacial Maximum”: A response to Turkozan et al. (2021)


Open Access


pp. 201-203

Authors: Flora Ihlow, Uwe Fritz, Peter Mikulíček & Dennis Rödder

Abstract: Species distribution models (SDMs) are frequently used to characterise current, past or future realised environmental niches. Two recent studies applied different approaches to infer range dynamics in eastern subspecies of the spur-thighed tortoise Testudo graeca Linnaeus, 1758. We discuss differences in the conclusions of the two papers and use multivariate environmental similarity surface (MESS) analyses to show that the results of the study by Turkozan et al. (2021), recently published in the Herpetological Journal, are compromised by extrapolation and therefore have to be interpreted with caution.

Keywords: Glacial refugia, multivariate environmental similarity surface (MESS), range shifts, species distribution modelling, spur-thighed tortoise

pdf 03. How did the toad get over the sea to Skye? Tracing the colonisation of Scottish inshore islands by common toads (Bufo bufo)


Open Access


pp. 204-213

Authors: David O'Brien, Jeanette Hall, Katie O’Brien, Donal Smith, Stewart Angus, Rohan Vishwas Joglekar & Robert Jehle

Abstract: Processes of island colonisation have long been of interest to biologists. Colonisation events themselves are rarely observed, but the processes involved may be inferred using genetic approaches. We investigated possible means of island colonisation by common toads (Bufo bufo) in western Scotland (the Isle of Skye and five neighbouring small islands), using evidence derived from nuclear microsatellites and mitochondrial (mt) DNA. Levels of microsatellite allelic richness for populations on Skye were high and comparable to adjacent mainland populations, but lower for populations on small islands. Pairwise measures of genetic distances between populations and a clustering algorithm were both suggestive of frequent gene flow between Skye and the mainland. For small islands the levels of genetic differentiation were higher, implying stronger isolation and no evidence for inbreeding. The distribution of mtDNA haplotypes broadly mirrored the genetic structure revealed by microsatellites. Reconciled with existing palaeoclimatological evidence, since the last glaciation, our findings rule out the possibility that the B. bufo populations stem from glacial refugia, or that recent anthropogenic transfer of toads is responsible for their current distribution. The most parsimonious explanation of our data is that the studied inshore islands have been repeatedly colonised via rafting from the mainland or neighbouring islands. This may give us insights into the processes likely to take place when ice sheets retreat poleward as a result of climate change. It also has implications for the colonisation of
both native and invasive non-native species, and hence the biosecurity of island refugia.

Keywords: Island biogeography, glaciation, amphibians, rafting

pdf 03a. Supplementary materials for How did the toad get over the sea to Skye? Tracing the colonisation of Scottish inshore islands by common toads (Bufo bufo)


Open Access

pp. 204-213

Authors: David O'Brien, Jeanette Hall, Katie O’Brien, Donal Smith, Stewart Angus, Rohan Vishwas Joglekar & Robert Jehle

pdf 04. Rhinella icterica and Rhinella ornata (Anura: Bufonidae) tadpoles do not recognise siblings


Open Access


pp. 214-220

Authors:  Alexandre Polettini Neto & Jaime Bertoluci

Abstract:  Benefits conferred to animals living in groups may be greater if groups are formed by relatives rather than non-relatives, because cooperating with relatives increases the probability of their own genes being passed on to group offspring (inclusive fitness). Non-social aggregations are formed in response to environmental characteristics, while social aggregations are formed from the attraction among individuals. The attraction or repulsion between individuals is mediated by recognition mechanisms, which mediate important ecological processes and behaviours. Here, we conducted laboratory experiments to test if tadpoles of two sympatric bufonids, Rhinella icterica and R. ornata, are able to recognise siblings. We collected
eggs of the two species in the field and raised them in laboratory settings, according to three different methods: siblings and non-siblings reared in separated containers; siblings and non-siblings reared in the same container separated by a plastic net; and eggs from the same spawn reared separately, each one in an individual container. Later, we tested if tadpoles could choose between groups of siblings and non-siblings. The results indicate that tadpoles of neither species were able to discriminate between siblings and non-siblings, regardless of the rearing methods. Therefore, kinship is less important than environmental factors in tadpole aggregation behaviour of these species, and it may be dependent on the balance
between costs and benefits. Our results can be used as a start point to better understand tadpole aggregation behaviour and recognition mechanisms in these species.

Keywords: kin recognition, aggregation behaviour, chemical communication, Atlantic Forest

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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.