The British Herpetological Society


The Herpetological Journal

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 2014 impact factor of the Herpetological Journal (released end June 2015) is 0.90. 

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Folder Volume 27, Number 1, January 2017

pdf 01. How many Trinidad stream frogs (Mannophryne trinitatis) are there, and should they be regarded as vulnerable to extinction?


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pp. 5-11

Authors: Mark S. Greener, Ruth Shepherd, Paul A. Hoskisson, Hamish Asmath & J. Roger Downie

Abstract: The Trinidad stream frog Mannophryne trinitatis is a Trinidad endemic inhabiting small seasonal forest streams throughout the northern and central range hills. IUCN has assessed the species as Vulnerable, but the evidence for this remains anecdotal. We surveyed the northern range population at five sites over three consecutive years using visual encounter and audio surveys, also using removal sampling at two of the sites. We further tested for the presence of chytrid infection at six sites in one year. Removal sampling revealed densities of about 100 and 600 frogs per 100 m of stream, resulting in a conservative estimate of3.5 million frogs in the northern Range when taking the total length of suitable streams into account. None of the 116 frogs were positive for chytrid, and no frog showed skin lesions or clinical signs of disease. Along with a lack of evidence for decline in the extent and quality of Trinidad stream frog habitat, we conclude that this species should no longer be regarded as under threat. Our results combined with previous work should provide a basis for future assessments of this species.

Key words: chytrid infection, IUCN Red List, Mannophryne trinitatis, removal sampling, Trinidad stream frog

pdf 02. A new, narrowly distributed, and critically endangered species of spiny-throated reed frog (Anura: Hyperoliidae) from a highly threatened coastal forest reserve in Tanzania


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pp. 13-24

Authors: Christopher D. Barratt, Lucinda P. Lawson, Gabriela B. Bittencourt-Silva, Nike Doggart, Theron Morgan-Brown, Peter Nagel & Simon P. Loader

Abstract: Amphibians are in decline globally due to increasing anthropogenic changes, and many species are at risk of extinction even before they are formally recognised. The Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa is a hotspot of amphibian diversity but is threatened by recent land use changes. Based on specimens collected in 2001 we identify a new species from the coastal forests of Tanzania. The new species belongs to the spiny-throated reed frog complex that comprises a number of morphologically similar species with highly fragmented populations across the Eastern Afromontane Region, an adjacent biodiversity hotspot comprising of numerous isolated montane forests. The new species is the first coastal forest member of this otherwise montane clade. We formally describe this species, assess its distribution and conservation threat, and provide a revised key to species of the spiny throated reed frog complex. We highlight the most important characters distinguishing the new species from the other similar reed frog species. Recent surveys at the type locality and also more broadly across the region failed to find this new species. The conservation threat of this species is critical as the only known locality (Ruvu South Forest Reserve) is currently subjected to devastating land use changes.

Key words: Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa, conservation, habitat destruction, Hyperolius ruvuensis sp. n., Hyperolius spinigularis, Tanzania Ruvu South Forest Reserve

pdf 03. Environmental correlates of species richness and composition of riparian anuran communities in rainforests of northwestern Borneo: a metacommunity perspective


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pp. 25-32

Authors: Sandra Goutte, Hanyrol Ahmad Sah & T. Ulmar Grafe

Abstract: The diversity of stream anurans in Southeast Asia is highly endangered by habitat loss and fragmentation. To optimise conservation planning, their distribution patterns and habitat requirements need to be better understood. In this study, we investigated the distribution and habitat requirements of stream-associated anurans across four sites in north-western Borneo. The sites showed differences in species richness and composition. At a local scale, only microhabitat parameters and stream dynamics had a significant explanatory power on species composition. At a regional scale, environmental variables and geographical distances were both correlated with species composition, with adjacent locations having more similar species assemblages than distant locations. In order to protect the diversity of riparian anurans of north-western Borneo, protected areas need to include distant sites within the same region in addition to a diversity of habitats.

Key words: Amphibians, Anura, beta diversity, Borneo, Brunei, ecology, frog, Malaysia, stream

pdf 04. Host-pathogen relationships between the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and tadpoles of five South American anuran species


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pp. 33-39

Authors: María Luz Arellano, Guillermo S. Natale, Pablo G. Grilli, Diego A. Barrasso, Mónica M. Steciow & Esteban O. Lavilla

Abstract:  The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is one of the most important contributors for the decline of amphibian populations worldwide. Evidence indicates that the harmfulness of Bd infection depends on the species and life stage, the fungus strain, the season and environmental factors. In the present paper, we experimentally investigated (i) the susceptibility and sensitivity of five South American tadpole species (Rhinella fernandezae, Scinax squalirostris, Hypsiboas pulchellus, Leptodactylus latrans and Physalaemus fernandezae) to a foreign Bd strain (JEL423), (ii) the response of two populations of P. fernandezae to a native Bd strain (MLA1), and (iii) the virulence of native and foreign Bd isolates on tadpoles of the same species. We also evaluated the relationship between Bd infection and the loss of keratinised mouthparts in P. fernandezae. We found that all species except L. latrans were susceptible to Bd infection with lethal consequences, with R. fernandezae being the most sensitive species. In P. fernandezae, sensitivity to infection depended on population as well as Bd strain, although no relationship was found between fungal infection and the loss of keratinised mouthparts. This is the first experimental study on mortality rates of South American tadpoles exposed to Bd.

Key words: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, fungal infection, South America, tadpoles

pdf 05. Variation in skull size and shape in a newt species with male-biased sexual dimorphism


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pp. 41-46

Authors: Milena Cvijanović, Nazan Üzüm, Ana Ivanović, Aziz Avci, Çiçek Gümüş Özcan & Kurtuluş Olgun

Abstract:  According to Rensch’s rule, sexual size dimorphism (SSD) increases with body size in groups where males are the larger sex and decreases when females are larger. The genus Ommatotriton represents a well-defined lineage with male-biased SSD within a group of Eurasian newts otherwise characterised by females being larger than males. In the present paper, we explore sexual dimorphism in skull size and shape for populations of the banded newt Ommatotriton ophryticus, applying geometric morphometrics to investigate size-dependent allometric shape variation. Sexual dimorphism in skull size was not correlated with the size of males, rejecting Rensch’s rule. Sexual dimorphism in skull shape of O. ophryticus is entirely due to allometric, size-related shape changes between sexes.

Key words: Banded newts, geometric morphometrics, Ommatotriton ophryticus, Rensch’s rule

pdf 06. Is ecophysiology congruent with the present-day relictual distribution of a lizard group? Evidence from preferred temperatures and water loss rates


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pp. 47-56

Authors: Diana Carneiro, Enrique García-Muñoz, Anamarija Žagar, Panayotis Pafilis & Miguel A. Carretero 

Abstract:  We assessed whether ecophysiological requirements are consistent with the environmental traits within the current ranges in a relictual lizard group, Algyroides, composed of four species with restricted and disjunctive distributions. We considered temperature, precipitation and their seasonal profiles, and focused on the preferred body temperature (Tp) and the evaporative water loss (EWL). The ranges of all four species differed in environmental traits. The two geographically more restricted species followed divergent patterns: A. moreoticus inhabits hot and climatically buffered areas, and A. marchi occupies cold seasonal environments. Tp and EWL also differed among species following a geographical grouping: A. nigropunctatus (Slovenia) and A. fitzingeri (Sardinia) selected for lower Tp and lost less water than the southern species A. moreoticus (Peloponnese) and A. marchi (Southern Spain). Tp and EWL were correlated at species level but not at individual level within species. Results suggest that the current distribution of Algyroides species partly reflects their ecophysiology, with water ecology taking precedence over thermal ecology as constraining factor. By unravelling the environmental factors limiting the distribution of species, ecophysiology may provide directions for conservation, predicting the degree of vulnerability to climate change.

Key words: Algyroides, biogeography, Lacertidae, thermal preference, water loss

pdf 07. Life history traits of a spadefood toad (Pelobates cultripes) population from a semiarid zone in the north east of the Iberian Peninsula


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pp. 57-61

Authors: Mariona Pascual-Pons, Neus Oromi, Eudald Pujol-Buxó, Marc Fibla, Delfi Sanuy & Albert Montori

Abstract:  Skeletochronology was used to estimate age and several life history traits of the Iberian spadefoot toad (Pelobates cultripes) from a semiarid zone of the Ebro Valley (in the northeastern Iberian Peninsula). The lines of arrested growth (LAGs) were clearly visible in all cross sections of the adult phalanges, showing fast growth in the first year of life, with large adult sizes. The growth, size (SVL) and age structure varied between sexes, suggesting that the larger size of females (mean±SE=76.14±0.95 mm; males: 71.76±0.90 mm) is related to a delay in age at maturity (3 years) compared to males (2 years). In addition, females were more long-lived (6 years) than males (5 years), resulting in a similar potential reproductive life span (PRLS=3 years). A data set including life history traits from several P. cultripes populations was used to analyse demographic variation. We suggest multiple factors such as altitude, latitude, predation, and soil characteristics can explain life history trait variation in this species.

Key words: Iberian spadefoot toad, lines of arrested growth, semiarid environment, skeletochronology

pdf 08. Refuting the revalidation of Telmatobius laevis Philippi 1902


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pp. 63-72

Authors: Claudio Correa Q

Abstract:  The taxonomy and systematics of Andean frogs of the genus Telmatobius have been considered complex, due mainly to the high levels of inter and intraspecific variation in morphological characters. Recently, Cuevas (2013) revalidated the species T. laevis Philippi 1902, which was originally described from two syntypes (one currently lost) collected in the late nineteenth century, based on photographs of the only preserved specimen. He also used bibliographic material showing that the original type material constituted two different taxa and that its type locality, previously not located, is Potrero Grande in the Andes Range of central Chile (33°28’S). Biogeographically, this implies a geographic distribution extension for the genus of more than 450 km on the other side of Andes, and that T. laevis inhabits within the distribution range of the phenotypically similar Alsodes montanus. Here I critically review the arguments of Cuevas (2013) and show that his main evidence for revalidating T. laevis, the location of its type locality, is based on an erroneous interpretation of the literature. Moreover, I point out several deficiencies and inconsistencies of the description and redescriptions of this taxon that were not addressed by Cuevas (2013). Reanalysing the literature and photographs of the only known specimen, and incorporating new geographic data, I suggest instead that the only known specimen of T. laevis belongs to T. marmoratus, its original designation, and came from an undetermined place within the traditional known range of the genus in Chile. However, this proposal is problematic due to the high degree of morphological variation exhibited by T. marmoratus, the uncertain taxonomic status of its Chilean populations and the unclear origin of the specimen. Therefore, I consider T. laevis as a species inquirenda until these issues are clarified or new biological material is obtained. Furthermore, I provide photographic and geographic data of frogs from Potrero Grande belonging to the genus Alsodes.

Key words: Alsodes, Andes Range, species inquirenda, taxonomy, Telmatobius

pdf 09. Reproductive biology of the nest building vizcacheras frog Leptodactylus bufonius (Amphibia, Anura, Leptodactylidae), including a description of unusual courtship behaviour


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pp. 73-80

Authors: Gabriel Faggioni, Franco Souza, Masao Uetanabaro, Paulo Landgref-Filho, Joe Furman & Cynthia Prado

Abstract:  We describe the reproductive biology and sexual size dimorphism of a population of the vizcacheras frog Leptodactylus bufonius in the Brazilian Chaco. Reproduction takes place during the rainy months (September–March). During courtship, females emit reciprocal calls and both sexes perform vibratory movements of the body; the latter is described for the first time in anurans. Amplexus and oviposition occurred inside subterranean chambers. The temperature in closed chambers was lower than outside chambers, which may aid in reducing desiccation risks of eggs and tadpoles. Females were larger than males, but males had longer heads and shorter tibias, which may be related to digging. The study reinforces the importance of ongoing discoveries on anuran natural history.

Key words: Chaco, natural history, sexual size dimorphism, subterranean chamber, vibratory movements

pdf 10. Revalidation of Pristimantis brevicrus (Anura, Craugastoridae) with taxonomic comments on a widespread Amazonian direct-developing frog


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pp. 81-97

Authors: H. Mauricio Ortega-Andrade, Octavio R. Rojas-Soto, Alejandro Espinosa de los Monteros, Jorge H. Valencia, Morley Read & Santiago R. Ron

Abstract:  Problems associated with delimiting species are particularly pronounced in taxa with high species-level diversity, as occurs in Pristimantis frogs. Herein, we resurrect Pristimantis brevicrus, nov. comb., from the synonymy of P. altamazonicus, a widespread species in the upper Amazon Basin, based on morphological, acoustic and genetic evidence. Both species are sympatric along the Upper Amazon Basin of Ecuador and northern Peru, up to ~1450 m. Phylogenetic analyses reveals that P. altamazonicus and P. brevicrus are sister taxa in a well-supported clade with P. diadematus and two unconfirmed candidate species. Pristimantis altamazonicus is distinguished from P. brevicrus by having a differentiated tympanic annulus, a smooth dorsum with scattered small tubercles towards the flanks, weakly areolate skin on the venter, red to bright orange groin with black mottling, on hidden surfaces of thighs (bluish-white to yellowish-white in P. brevicrus) of living specimens. The recognition of P. brevicrus and two unconfirmed candidate species suggest that the diversity of these frogs is inadequately understood, highlighting the need for more integrative taxonomic reviews of Amazonian amphibians.

Key words: Amazonia, Craugastoridae, Ecuador, frogs, integrative taxonomy, Peru, unconfirmed candidate species

pdf 11. Historical and ecological biogeography of the genus Crotalus in Mexico


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pp. 99-108

Authors: Uriel Hernández-Salinas, Aurelio Ramírez-Bautista, Gustavo Montiel-Canales & Raciel Cruz-Elizalde

Abstract:  The genus Crotalus is well represented in all biogeographic provinces including most major vegetation communities and climatic zones described for Mexico. For this reason, we use the assumptions of panbiogeography with the objective to establish a biogeographic framework for the 26 species of rattlesnakes native to Mexico. On the basis of 1472 records, 26 individual tracks derived from the distribution of each species resulted in two generalised tracks. The first is located in the Peninsula of Baja California, in the biogeographic provinces of California and Baja California, and is identified by three species (C. enyo, C. mitchellii and C. ruber). The second generalised track is located on the eastern portion of the Transmexican Volcanic Belt, the Balsas Basin, and Sierra Madre del Sur, supported by C. ravus and C. intermedius. An analysis of partition of variance found that vegetation explains the most variation in the distribution of species. Very similar results were obtained by analysis of ancestral reconstruction for biogeographic provinces, vegetation types and elevation. Our results are consistent with different climatic events during the Pleistocene, and tectonic events such as the lifting of the Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre Oriental. In addition, our results showed similarities with historical distributions of birds, mammals and beetles. Further studies of the distribution and phylogeography of other groups of reptiles with significant information gaps in their historical and current distribution are needed to shed further light on the biogeography and diversity of reptiles of Mexico.

Key words: biogeographic provinces, distribution, ecology, panbiogeography, Rattlesnakes

pdf 12. Sexual dimorphism in two species of hynobiid salamanders (Hynobius leechii and Salamandrella keyserlingii)


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pp. 109-114

Authors: Jianli Xiong, Xiuying Liu, Mengyun Li, Yanan Zhang & Yao Min

Abstract:  Sexual dimorphism is a widespread phenomenon throughout the animal kingdom and a key topic in evolutionary biology. In this study, we quantified patterns of sexual dimorphism in two hynobiid salamanders (Hynobius leechii and Salamandrella keyserlingii) from Chinese populations. Sexual size dimorphism did not occur in either species, despite differences in body shape traits. Likely related to fecundity selection, females have relatively longer trunks in both species. Female S. keyserlingii have larger heads likely due to reproductive investment and ecological selection, whereas larger forelimb and hindlimb width in male H. leechii may be related to reproductive behaviour.

Key words: Asian salamander, Hynobiidae, morphology, sexual size dimorphism

pdf 13. Mating plugs and male sperm storage in Bothrops cotiara (Serpentes, Viperidae)


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pp. 115-119

Authors: Verônica A. Barros, Claudio A. Rojas & Selma M. Almeida-Santos

Abstract:  We describe two new aspects of male reproduction in the pit viper Bothrops cotiara: the formation of mating plugs and epididymal sperm storage. Based on histological analyses of specimens (four males and three females), we propose that long-term sperm storage occurs in the ductus deferens, whereas macroscopic hypertrophy indicates that the epididymis may be a short-term sperm storage site. Secretions of the sexual segment of the kidneys probably form the mating plug that males deposit in the female vagina during copulation. A mating plug without sperm was observed in the spring. Future studies should address the functions and longevity of mating plugs and the role of the epididymis in Bothrops reproduction.

Key words: ductus deferens, ductus epididymis, neotropical region, reproduction, snakes, SSK

pdf Conference report 2016


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