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 34, Number 1, January 2024 Volume 34, Number 1, January 2024


pdf 01. Global and regional patterns in distribution and threat status of zoo collections of turtles and tortoises

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Open Access

DOI: https://doi.org/10.33256/34.1.110

pp. 1-10

Authors: Khalid Ahmed, Benjamin Tapley & Christopher J. Michaels

Abstract: Turtles are a globally threatened group of reptiles. Zoo populations may contribute to the conservation of species, including turtles, but collection composition may not align with conservation needs. We combined data from the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS), EDGE of Existence, the IUCN Red List and the Reptile Database to investigate zoo turtle holdings on global and regional scales. Globally, zoo collections were representative of turtle diversity, regional species distributions and threat statuses, indicating no bias towards threatened species and no taxonomic or distribution blind spots. Species kept in zoos had significantly lower EDGE scores than those not represented, and threatened species were no more likely to have been bred in the year prior to data collection (before March 2022) or have non-viable populations, but were more likely to have a larger population size. Although Africa, Asia and South America have the smallest turtle holdings in terms of species, allowing for regional capacity, these regions hold more, while Europe holds fewer than expected turtle species – North American and Asian holdings do not differ from expected. African, Asian, North and South American regions significantly bias their collections towards native species. We found evidence for significant increases in turtle populations at the genus level following the EAZA Shellshock campaign in Europe. ZIMS data are limited by taxonomy, membership and accuracy of records but provide the best window into patterns of zoo turtle collections. While holding a species in a zoo does not equate to conservation value, based on these data, we recommend that conservation prioritisation exercises are developed for all turtle species, holding institutions or regional taxonomic advisory address population viability and support for institutions working with significant turtle populations in captivity to join ZIMS is provided.

Keywords: chelonia, ex-situ, zoos, conservation, ZIMS


pdf 02. Living on the EDGE: From the evolutionary uniqueness to the conservation status of the Colombian elapids and viperids

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.33256/34.1.1121

pp. 11-21

Authors: Yolima Moya-Bedoya, Daniela Cortés-Díaz, Andrés Felipe Grajales-Andica, Víctor M. Martínez-Arias, Juan Esteban Cáceres-Rave, Fernando Vargas-Salinas & Diana L. Buitrago-Torres

Abstract: Phylogenetics applied to conservation provides a comprehensive and alternative approach that contributes to prioritising species and areas for conservation, even if the species have significant information gaps concerning their ecology. Using a distribution of 10,000 phylogenetic trees of the 30 elapid and 21 viperid snakes in Colombia, we calculated the species evolutionary distinctiveness (ED) scores. Then, based on the ED median values reported from previously fully-sampled phylogenies of squamates, we quantified evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered (EDGE) scores and, with updated distribution maps of the species, we computed and plotted biogeographically weighted evolutionary distinctiveness (BED) scores. Among threatened species, Bothrocophias campbelli reached the highest ED score. This species, together with Micrurus medemi, are the top EDGE species, and with Micrurus renjifoi achieved the highest BED scores. The spatial patterns of richness and BED values highlight the Andean, Amazonian and Pacific regions as biodiversity hotspots. Although some areas are under some protection status, anthropic pressures, such as deforestation, along with the lack of knowledge about these snakes, exhibit a worrisome panorama. Thus, it is imperative to implement conservation measures focused on areas where species with both ecological and evolutionary value are concentrated.

Keywords: Coral snakes, Elapidae, evolutionary distinctiveness, global endangerment, phylogenetic diversity, Viperidae, vipers


pdf 02a. Supplementary material for 02. Living on the EDGE: From the evolutionary uniqueness to the conservation status of the Colombian elapids and viperids

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pp. 11-21

Authors: Yolima Moya-Bedoya, Daniela Cortés-Díaz, Andrés Felipe Grajales-Andica, Víctor M. Martínez-Arias, Juan Esteban Cáceres-Rave, Fernando Vargas-Salinas & Diana L. Buitrago-Torres


spreadsheet 02b. Supplementary material for 02. Living on the EDGE: From the evolutionary uniqueness to the conservation status of the Colombian elapids and viperids

8 downloads

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pp. 11-21

Authors: Yolima Moya-Bedoya, Daniela Cortés-Díaz, Andrés Felipe Grajales-Andica, Víctor M. Martínez-Arias, Juan Esteban Cáceres-Rave, Fernando Vargas-Salinas & Diana L. Buitrago-Torres


pdf 02c. Supplementary material for 02. Living on the EDGE: From the evolutionary uniqueness to the conservation status of the Colombian elapids and viperids

8 downloads

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pp. 11-21

Authors: Yolima Moya-Bedoya, Daniela Cortés-Díaz, Andrés Felipe Grajales-Andica, Víctor M. Martínez-Arias, Juan Esteban Cáceres-Rave, Fernando Vargas-Salinas & Diana L. Buitrago-Torres


pdf 03. Spatial ecology of the Turks and Caicos Boa Chilabothrus c. chrysogaster Cope, 1871 (Serpentes: Boidae)

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.33256/34.1.2234

pp. 22-34

Authors: R. Graham Reynolds, Molly E. Reger, Keeley J. Peek, Bonnie L. Raphael, Giuliano Colosimo, Aryeh H. Miller, Alyssa A. Vanerelli & Glenn P. Gerber

Abstract: Obtaining ecological and natural history data from cryptic squamates can be challenging, but is crucial to understanding species’ biology, particularly in the context of conservation. In the Greater Antilles, this challenge is especially apparent, particularly among the West Indian boas (genus Chilabothrus). Most species have had only minimal natural history study, with a few exceptions. The Turks and Caicos boa (C. chrysogaster) has been studied intensively for over 16 years on the small privately owned island of Big Ambergris Cay, Turks and Caicos Islands. We conducted a multi-year radio-tracking study on the species to generate information relevant to spatial habitat use and movement that will inform conservation decision-making in the face of increasing development pressure. We tracked a total of 19 female snakes using surgically implanted transmitters, enabling us to obtain between 16 and 40 location observations per boa over the lifetime of each transmitter. We found that females have an average home range of 1.83 ha and a core space use area of 0.39 ha. We also estimated occurrence distributions, the use of space between specific time intervals, finding an average occurrence area of 0.76 ha. Several females overlapped in their spatial habitat use, with an average overlap proportion of 28 %. During this study we observed female boas using two novel habitats for the species (iron shore wrack and red mangrove). This study provides valuable information on the spatial ecology of an endangered boa and will serve to inform conservation work that is currently underway.

Keywords: conservation, movement, home range, snake, spatial ecology


pdf 03a. Supplementary material for 03. Spatial ecology of the Turks and Caicos Boa Chilabothrus c. chrysogaster Cope, 1871 (Serpentes: Boidae)

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pp. 22-34

Authors: R. Graham Reynolds, Molly E. Reger, Keeley J. Peek, Bonnie L. Raphael, Giuliano Colosimo, Aryeh H. Miller, Alyssa A. Vanerelli & Glenn P. Gerber


pdf 04. Dark future for a black salamander: effects of climate change and conservation implications for an endemic alpine amphibian

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.33256/34.1.3547

pp. 35-47

Authors: Davide Giuliano, Daniele Seglie, Paolo Eusebio Bergò, Riccardo Cavalcante, Marco Favelli, Bruno Aimone Gigio, Alain Bloc, Anna Gaggino, Matteo Massara, Alessandra Pucci, Marco Rastelli, Claude Miaud & Barbara Rizzioli

Abstract: Climate change is threatening several montane species across the world, including a large number of endemics, needing the development of forward-looking conservation strategies to foster their future survival. In this context, Species Distribution Models (SDMs) represent a useful method to forecast changes in species’ habitat suitability under different scenarios of global warming, often advising conservation frameworks with credible, defensible and repeatable information. In this paper, we estimate the environmental and bioclimatic suitability for an endemic mountain amphibian (Salamandra lanzai) in the western European Alps through an SDM approach, considering both current and future scenarios, to address short- and long-term management and conservation actions, and to update the current IUCN extinction risk assessment. The ensemble model forecasts predict a dramatic decline of the climatically suitable area for the Lanza’s alpine salamander in the next 20–40 years, even considering an optimistic CO2 emissions scenario, leading to a theoretical extinction of this species in 2100 in case the worst global warming prediction will be actualised. This underlines the urgent need for up-to-date conservation and management strategies to ensure the successful mitigation of climate change effects on S. lanzai, especially by adapting and improving the network of protected areas, immediately removing additional threats and identifying possible management actions able to increase fine-scale habitat suitability and connectivity among populations. In addition, a significant range contraction in the future has to be considered when assessing the extinction risk for this species, possibly exacerbating the effect of other threatening factors, such as the spread of lethal pathogens.

Keywords: Salamandra lanzai, ensemble models, environmental suitability, bioclimatic suitability, future projections


pdf 04a. Supplementary material for 04. Dark future for a black salamander: effects of climate change and conservation implications for an endemic alpine amphibian

11 downloads

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pp. 35-47

Authors: Davide Giuliano, Daniele Seglie, Paolo Eusebio Bergò, Riccardo Cavalcante, Marco Favelli, Bruno Aimone Gigio, Alain Bloc, Anna Gaggino, Matteo Massara, Alessandra Pucci, Marco Rastelli, Claude Miaud & Barbara Rizzioli



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IMPORTANT NOTE - JUNE 2020

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.