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.

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Folder Volume 1, Number 11, December 1990

pdf 01. Review of the Smooth newt (Triturus vulgaris) subspecies, including an identification key


Open Access


Authors: C. J. Ranworthy

Abstract: A taxonomic revision of the Smooth Newt Triturus vulgaris leads to the recognition or seven subspecies: T. v. vulgaris. T. v. meridionalis. T. v. graecus, T. v. lantzi, T. v. ampelensis, T. v. kosswigi, T. v. schmidtlerorum and T. v. borealis and T. v. tataienis, are considered to be synonyms of T. v. vulgaris. A n identification kev and updated distribution map is prnvicled These subspecies a recognised  by characters which represent non-independent patterns of racial variation, probably· produced as a direct consequence of allopatric divergence in isolated glacial refugia. Based nn the biological species concept there can be no justification in raising these taxonnmic units to species rank

pdf 02. Size differences of natterjack toads breeding in the North Merseyside sand dunes


Open Access


Authors: P. H. Smith

Abstract: Snout-vent lengths of large samples of natterjacks were measured at four relatively isolated sand-dune breeding sites in two successive years. It was hoped t hat the size distributions would indicate whether satisfactory recruitment into t he breeding cohort was taking place. Significant differences were found between males and females. between the four sites and between years. It is inferred that one group consists mainly of young individuals. reflecting high toad let product ion. while the other three groups have a large proportion of older adults as a consequence of poorer breeding success. The possible reasons for these differences are discussed.

pdf 03. Temporal changes in the behaviour of foam making [i]Leptodactylus fuscus[i] tadpoles


Open Access


Authors: J. R. Downie

Abstract: Recently-hatched L. fuscus tadpoles kept out of water make a heap of foam which helps them to survive. At first, isolated tadpoles can make foam (by spitting mucus bubbles), but later. tadpoles can only make foam when in a group of five or more. If tadpoles are separated from one another. out of water. they can aggregate bv active. apparently random wriggling movements, but this ability too declines with time since hatching.

pdf 04. Functions of the foam in foam nesting leptodactylids anti predator effects of Physalaemus pustulosus foam


Open Access


Authors: J. R. Downie

Abstract: In a laboratory experiment . L. fuscus tadpoles. a known predator of P. pustulosus foam nests. took a much higher proportion of floating eggs presented as individuals than as groups embedded in foam: the bigger the group. the greater the protection. L. fucus tadpoles did not take post-hatching st ages of P. pustulosus but these were predated by dragonfly nymphs.

pdf 05. An archaeological study of frogs and toads from the eighth to sixteenth century at Repton, Derbyshire


Open Access


Authors: C. J. Ranworthy, B. Kiøi Byf-biddle And M. Biddle

Abstract: During excavation work a round the Church of St. Wystans at Repton. Derbyshire. a large quantity of Common frog ( Rana temporaria) and Common toad ( Bufo bufo) bones were discovered at several sites. The robbing holes, suspected saw-pit, crypt, drain and burial mounds all appeared to have acted as historical pitfall traps ( between the eighth and sixteenth centurv ) . which in some cases caught frogs and toads in large numbers . In the eighth and ninth century the Common frog was abundant compared to the Common toad which is rare or even absent from Repton . However. by the fourteenth century. toads had become Well established. and in modern times. extremely abundant in the area. This change may be associated with the formation of an ox-bow lake between the ninth and sixteenth centurv.
A very high proportion of frog bones were recorded among the disarticulate human bones of the ninth century Viking burial mound. This mound is known to have been disturbed in the seventeenth century . However the almost complete absence of toad bones suggests that t here has been little contamination to these deposits during and after the fourteenth century. since t he Common toad appears to have been common in Repton from this time onwards.

pdf 06. Ecological responses in a population of smooth newts (Triturus vulgaris meridionalis) in an unpredictable environment


Open Access


Authors: Fiorenza Accordi, Ariela Massarek, Giovani Nobili

Abstract: The annual cycle of a population of Smooth newts ( Triturus vulgaris meridionalis) was studied at a temporary pond in Central Italy. Timing of migration differs from that described in northern countries. Immigration and reproduction take place as soon as weather conditions are favourable (December). males arriving earlier than females. Emigration lasts a short period (April-May) and ends before pond desiccation (.June). Summer drought is therefore not a limiting fact or for adult activity as it is for larval survival. The aquatic period is short compared to that of northern populations and during the summer terrestrial phase probably little activitv occurs. Males exceed females in the breeding population. In particularly dry conditions not all the female population reaches the pond. The average growth rate during the aquatic phase is approximately 1mm. An hypothesis on the inn uence of environmental conditions on adult body size is suggested.

pdf 07. Dominance or territoriality The colonisation of temporary lagoons by Caiman crocodilus


Open Access


Authors: Carlos Drews

Abstract: The behaviour of 51 individually known spectacled caimans ( Caiman crocodilus) was studied in the Llanos savannahs during the first half of the rainy season. At the onset of the rains caimans left their dry season refuge. a permanent pond. to colonise the appearing temporary lagoons. Caimans less than one year old did not leave the  pond. Despite reports of territoriality in this species. no indication of territorial behaviour was found during the colonisation of lagoons. Ninety per cent of the caimans were nomadic. Their movements between water bodies included the permanent pond. Residence in a study lagoon was up to one week long and was followed by prolonged periods of absence. During their residence time in the lagoon. some caimans showed site fidelity. others did not. There was considerable overlap of caiman ranges in the lagoon. but caimans showed spacing behaviour when simultaneously in the water. Priority of access to resources in caimans and other crocodilians is apparently determined by the body size of competitors and not by the site of agonistic encounters. It is argued that the social
behaviour of crocodilians is characterised by an absolute dominance hierarchy based on body size. rather than territoriality.

pdf 08. A late pleistocene herpetofauna from Bell Cave, Alabama


Open Access

pp.521 -529

Authors: .J . Allen Holman, Gordon Bell and James Lamb

Abstract: Three stratigraphic units in Bell Cave. north western Alabama. have yielded fossil herpetofaunas that are mainly analogues of the modern ones in the area . Two oft he fossiliferous zones have been dated by the Carbon 14 method: Zone l /2 at 1 1 .820 +480 to -500 BP and Zone 4 at 26.500 +870 to -990 BP. An intermediate unit (Zone 3) did not yield a Carbon 14 date, but is fa unistically nearly identical to Zone 1 /2. Excessive damage was present in many of the fossils due to predators and gnawing scavengers. thus only 18 per cent of the 3.953 herpetological fossils could be identified to the generic or to the specific level. The wide variety of habitats represented by the fossils (small, clear streams: larger. slower streams: marshy wetlands: waterfalls and associated talus seeps; woodlands and woodland edges) is attributed to transportation by palaeopredators. None of the amphibian or reptile species is extinct, in contrast to the mammalian fauna which has several extinct taxa. Zone 1 /2 has at least 24 species, including one northern and two slightly eastern extralimital ones. Zone 3 has at least 24 species, including the same three extra limital species that occur in Zone 1 /2. Zone 4 has 13 species, including only two slightly eastern extralimital ones. It is difficult on the herpetological remains to suggest a palaeoclimate much different from the climate of the area today. Certainly, the presence of many egg-laying turtles, lizards and snakes in all units negates a tundra-like or boreal-like interpretation of the palaeoclimate.

pdf 10. A note on the feeding habits of Ameiva fuscata from Dominica, Lesser Antilles


Open Access


Authors: D. J. Bullock And H. M. Jury



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