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

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Folder Volume 28, Number 4, October 2018

pdf 01. Declining occupancy rates in the hibernacula of aspic vipers (Vipera aspis) in Italy and France; evidence for climatic effects?


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Authors: Luca Luiselli, Leonardo Vignoli, Lorenzo Rugiero & Roger Meek

Abstract: Hibernation is a key aspect of the physiological ecology of temperate zone reptiles and where suitable dens are present, communal hibernation and long-term den fidelity may be expected. We studied long-term communal occupancy of hibernation dens in Italy and France by aspic vipers, Vipera aspis. Long-term trends were evaluated using regression analysis of the annual numbers of V. aspis at dens as dependent variables against year as the independent variable. The regression coefficients were tested against a 0 hypothetical coefficient, indicative of population stability. The results indicated that in Italy den numbers were stable from 1987 - 2000. However, after this period to 2017 there was a steep decline in den occupancy as indicated by a negative regression coefficient that differed significantly from 0. These declines correlated with increasing temperatures and shortened hibernation periods from 2000 and agreed with the general decline in viper numbers at the study area. At the smaller den in France, V. aspis numbers declined significantly during the period of observation and the den was abandoned by the 5th year. This was attributed to absence of females due to mortality of one of the two females and parturition in the second female. However, in contrast to the situation in Italy the general population in the locality was apparently stable over the period of observation.

Key words: Aspic viper, Vipera aspis, long-term hibernation den occupancy, climate change.

pdf 02. Telescoping turtles: a comparison of smartphone telephoto magnifiers to non-invasively observe and identify freshwater turtles


Open Access

pp. 143-147

Authors: Javier Escobar, Mark A. Rollins & Shem D. Unger

Abstract: Sampling freshwater turtles using traditional trapping methods can present significant economic investment to researchers. However, collecting baseline data on turtle relative abundance and species presence requires limited investment and can be non-invasive. Recent advances in performance of readily available smartphone cameras enable collection of high quality digital photos of wildlife, accessible to both researchers and citizen scientists. We report on the feasibility of using several low cost and lightweight telephoto lens attachments for smartphones to identify turtles from various observational distances. All three magnifiers provided a reliable, effective method for counting turtles with increased standard image resolution, with the number of basking turtles correctly enumerated and identified increasing with decreasing distance to observers (Spearman rank correlation = -0.719). The most consistently usable images for species identification were taken with 10X at distances under ~15 m and in urban pond settings where individuals are potentially less easily startled or where ambient noise is common. Ultimately, these magnifiers can be successfully incorporated into university outdoor biological laboratories, undergraduate research and community citizen science programs.

Key words: conservation, Trachemys, emydidae, freshwater ecology, survey techniques

pdf 03. Rediscovery of the golden-striped salamander Chioglossa lusitanica of Sintra, Portugal


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pp. 148-154

Authors: Francisco Fonseca Aguilar, Fernando Miguel Madeira, Eduardo Crespo & Rui Rebelo

Abstract: The southern distribution limit of the Iberian endemic and threatened golden-striped salamander (Chioglossa lusitanica) is located about 170 km NE of Lisbon, Portugal. In 1943 Anthero Seabra reportedly introduced a few specimens in the Sintra mountains, about 20 km NW of Lisbon, but the exact introduction site is not known. The existence of a reproducing population in Sintra became a recurrent topic among herpetologists and, despite the efforts of several individuals and teams, was not confirmed until now. After a fortuitous finding of one individual, we report here the results of a monitoring program involving photoidentification of adults and juveniles conducted during the autumn and winter of 2015/16 and 2016/17. We found a reproducing population living along a 107 m stretch of a single stream. Phenology and larval sizes were similar to those of other populations. Notable aspects of this population are its small size (estimated at 339 ± 35 individuals) and confinement to a very small area, the low proportion of individuals that were recorded moving along the stream and the very short distances travelled by those individuals, and the large size of several adults, including the longest individual recorded so far.

Key words: amphibia, assisted migration, caudata, historical introduction, isolate

pdf 04. Ranging behaviour of adders (Vipera berus) translocated from a development site


Open Access

pp. 155-159

Authors: Darryn J. Nash & Richard A. Griffiths

Abstract: Translocation of animals from sites scheduled for development is a widespread but controversial intervention to resolve human-wildlife conflicts. Indeed, reptiles are very frequently the subject of such translocations, but there is a paucity of information on the fate of such animals or how their behaviour compares to residents. In 2014, a population of adders (Vipera berus) was translocated from a development site in Essex, UK. A sample of snakes was fitted with external radio tags and tracked for a period of 10 days during the spring. This exercise was repeated during the summer using a combination of translocated and resident individuals. Translocated males exhibited significantly greater average daily movements than resident conspecifics. Furthermore, all translocated males undertook long-distance, unidirectional movements away from the release site. In contrast, all translocated females remained within 50 m of the point of release. One of the males returned to the donor site, crossing large areas of unsuitable habitat in doing so. Translocated males also maintained significantly larger total ranges than resident conspecifics. No differences in range sizes were observed between translocated and resident females. The dispersal of male snakes from the release site may increase the risk of mortality of translocated snakes and reduces the likelihood of establishing a new population. Interventions to encourage the establishment of new home ranges within the boundaries of release sites may include mechanisms to prevent dispersal immediately following release.

Key words: relocation, viper, radio-telemetry, reptile, human-wildlife conflict

pdf 05. A ring-species or a ring of species? Phylogenetic relationship between two treefrog species around the Yellow Sea: Dryophytes suweonensis and D. immaculatus


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pp. 160-170

Authors: Amaël Borzée, Sungsik Kong, Chelsea Didinger, Hoa Quynh Nguyen & Yikweon Jang

Abstract: Phylogenetic patterns due to glaciation are still understudied in North East Asia (NEA). Furthermore, the effects of the Last Glacial Maximum on phylogenetic patterns are less explicit in NEA than for other regions of the northern hemisphere due to topographically homogenous landscapes in general. Here, we aim to assess the phylogenetic status of the Dryophytes suweonensis and D. immaculatus treefrog clades. We used concatenated partial mitochondrial 12S and 16S gene fragments, with a combined length of 678 bp for D. suweonensis (n = 32) and D. immaculatus (n = 5), collected from the Republic of Korea and downloaded from GenBank (originating from the People’s Republic of China). Dryophytes suweonensis formed an apparently monophyletic clade whereas D. immaculatus was divided in two clades. Our results also demonstrated the continuous genetic variation through haplotypes forming a ring around the Yellow Sea. It is therefore difficult to conclude on either a ring-species or a ring of species around the shallow Yellow Sea, which acted as a land-bridge several times during recent geological times. We recommend the use of other data such as call characteristics and morphology to determine the species or sub-species status of these two clades.

Key words: Dryophytes suweonensis, Dryophytes immaculatus, species divergence, Hylidae, Yellow Sea

pdf 06. Interviews on the status of West African forest tortoises (genus Kinixys), including preliminary data on the effect of snail gatherers on their trade


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pp. 171-177

Authors: Luca Luiselli, Daniele Dendi, Nic Pacini, Nioking Amadi, Godfrey C. Akani, Edem A.
Eniang & Gabriel Hoinsoudé Ségniagbeto

Abstract: The forest hingeback tortoises Kinixys homeana and Kinixys erosa are two of the most declining African chelonians. Although the population size trends of these species have received attention in some specific areas of West Africa, an overall perception of their declining trajectories are still largely unexplored. We used interviews with rural people (hunters, farmers and snail gatherers) in order to explore the general perception that these experienced people have on the population trends of these threatened tortoises. Overall, we interviewed over 2000 people in three West African countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Togo and Nigeria), which mostly supported the notion that these tortoises are heavily declining in Togo and Nigeria, but less so in Côte d’Ivoire. In addition, many respondents suggested that snail gatherers are the main providers of tortoises to the bushmeat trade. Indeed, our market surveys revealed that, in Nigeria, there was a significantly positive correlation between number of wild snails traded by individual sellers and numbers of sold tortoises in their ‘shops’.

Key words: Chelonians, Kinixys erosa, Kinixys homeana, interviews, snail trade, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Nigeria

pdf Volume 28, Number 4, full issue


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