ISSN / EISSN : 0173-5373 / 1568-5381
Published by: Brill Academic Publishers (10.1163)
Total articles ≅ 2,281
Latest articles in this journal
Amphibia-Reptilia, Volume -1, pp 1-5; https://doi.org/10.1163/15685381-bja10076
Water loss and gain rates of amphibians are important to understanding their ecology, especially for plethodontid salamanders. We report the first estimates of repeatability of relative water loss and gain rates of the two major colour morphs of the Eastern Red-backed Salamander, Plethodon cinereus, in the fall and spring seasons. Repeatability of relative water loss in P. cinereus was >0 in the fall but not in the spring. Repeatability of relative water gain was significant for all salamanders pooled in the fall, and was not repeatable in the spring. There were no apparent differences in repeatability of relative water loss or gain between the two colour morphs. Our results suggest that the repeatability of relative water loss and gain rates varies by season, but not by colour morph.
Amphibia-Reptilia, Volume -1, pp 1-11; https://doi.org/10.1163/15685381-bja10072
Many aquatic species in the arid USA-Mexico borderlands region are imperiled, but limited information on distributions and threats often hinders management. To provide information on the distribution of the Western Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma mavortium), including the USA-federally endangered Sonoran Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma mavortium stebbinsi), we used traditional (seines, dip-nets) and modern (environmental DNA [eDNA]) methods to sample 91 waterbodies in northern Sonora, Mexico, during 2015-2018. The endemic Sonoran Tiger Salamander is threatened by introgressive hybridization and potential replacement by another sub-species of the Western Tiger Salamander, the non-native Barred Tiger Salamander (A. m. mavortium). Based on occupancy models that accounted for imperfect detection, eDNA sampling provided a similar detection probability (0.82 [95% CI: 0.56-0.94]) as seining (0.83 [0.46-0.96]) and much higher detection than dip-netting (0.09 [0.02-0.23]). Volume of water filtered had little effect on detection, possibly because turbid sites had greater densities of salamanders. Salamanders were estimated to occur at 51 sites in 3 river drainages in Sonora. These results indicate tiger salamanders are much more widespread in northern Sonora than previously documented, perhaps aided by changes in land and water management practices. However, because the two subspecies of salamanders cannot be reliably distinguished based on morphology or eDNA methods that are based on mitochondrial DNA, we are uncertain if we detected only native genotypes or if we documented recent invasion of the area by the non-native sub-species. Thus, there is an urgent need for methods to reliably distinguish the subspecies so managers can identify appropriate interventions.
Amphibia-Reptilia, Volume -1, pp 1-10; https://doi.org/10.1163/15685381-bja10074
The Bosnian alpine newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris reiseri) is endemic to Prokoško Lake (Mt. Vranica, Bosnia & Herzegovina); its evolutionary history is partially clarified and its taxonomic position remains unclear. Due to severe anthropogenic pressures on Mt. Vranica (fish introduction in Prokoško Lake, pollution), it has been assumed that this form of Alpine newt is extinct from the Lake. Nevertheless, some specimens originating from Prokoško Lake are still maintained in captivity in two European zoos and by several private keepers. The main goals of the present study are: (1) to investigate the presence of Alpine newts in the Prokoško Lake and the wider area of Mt. Vranica, (2) to conduct phylogenetic analysis on found specimens of Alpine newts in relation to other Balkan populations. Newts were not registered inside Prokoško Lake but several individuals were found in water bodies surrounding the Lake. Genetic analysis shows that these individuals carry the same haplotype as Alpine newts from a captive population originating from Prokoško Lake. All the Alpine newts originating from mt. Vranica are monophyletic on mtDNA markers, hence form an Evolutionary Significant Unit within I. alpestris that is of specific conservation importance. Results corroborate previous findings concerning the complex pattern of genetic diversity of Alpine newt populations in the Balkans that is poorly understood.
Amphibia-Reptilia, Volume -1, pp 1-7; https://doi.org/10.1163/15685381-bja10071
Corythomantis greeningi is a hylid widely distributed in the xerophilic and sub-humid morphoclimatic regions of northeastern Brazil. The morphology of C. greeningi tadpoles were described from specimens collected in the Bahia, however, we observed some differences in morphology of individuals from Piauí, northeastern Brazil. The tadpoles were collected during the 2019 rainy season and 14 individuals were used to compare the larval characters. We observed differences in external, internal oral and chondrocranial morphology in relation to specimens previously described, especially in oral disc, number and shape of oral cavity papillae and some chondrocranium structures, suggesting a heterochrony in the development of the species. Further studies involving a greater number of tadpoles at different stages, combined with genetic, acoustic, and morphological factors of adult may establish the variation degree of C. greeningi in different regions of northeastern Brazil.
Amphibia-Reptilia, Volume -1, pp 1-11; https://doi.org/10.1163/15685381-bja10073
Most viperids are ambush predators that primarily use venom to subdue prey, employing a strike-release-trail hunting strategy whereby snakes follow the unique scent of envenomated prey to locate carcasses they have bitten and released. In addition to killing prey, rattlesnakes (like most carnivores) will also opportunistically scavenge carrion. This scavenging strategy likely includes the occasional consumption of carcasses killed by other snakes (i.e., kleptoparasitism). In areas with high densities of other pitvipers, utilizing the unique scent of animals envenomated by other snakes might be a viable alternative foraging strategy. We evaluated this possibility experimentally using a series of captive behavioural trials on prairie rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis) to determine whether conspecific or heterospecific (C. scutulatus, C. ornatus) envenomation cues might increase the likelihood of kleptoparasitism. Rattlesnakes did not prefer envenomated prey over nonenvenomated prey, nor did they prefer venom cues of one species over another. Although they did frequently scavenge carcasses, in the absence of striking, snakes generally located carcasses using random searching movements instead of scent trails. Additionally, the amount of time rattlesnakes spent investigating carcass trails did not differ significantly among treatments, suggesting that striking, and the resultant formation of a chemical search image of prey, is more crucial to trailing behaviour than venom cues. Moreover, a high degree of behavioural variation among individuals was observed, suggesting that scavenging and kleptoparasitism in rattlesnakes is more complex than previously realized, and making generalizations about these behaviours is challenging.
Amphibia-Reptilia, Volume -1, pp 1-12; https://doi.org/10.1163/15685381-bja10069
The slow-worm lizards (Anguis) comprise five species occurring throughout most of the Western Palearctic. Although these species are relatively uniform morphologically – with the exception of A. cephallonica, which exhibits a quite unique morphology – they are genetically deeply divergent. Here, we provide detailed distribution maps for each species and discuss their biogeography and conservation based on updated genetic data and a robust distribution database. We pay particular attention to the so called ‘grey zone’, which typically represents secondary contact zones and in some cases confirmed or presumed hybrid zones. Four of the five species live in parapatry, while only two species, A. cephallonica and A. graeca from the southern Balkans occur in partial sympatry. Further research should focus on the eco-evolutionary interactions between species in contact, including their hybridization rates, to reveal deeper details of the slow-worm evolutionary and natural history.
Amphibia-Reptilia, Volume -1, pp 1-15; https://doi.org/10.1163/15685381-bja10067
Animals inhabiting arid environments use a variety of behavioural and physiological strategies to balance their water and salt budgets. We studied the effects of dehydration and salt loading on osmoregulatory capacities in a large herbivorous desert lizard, the Moroccan Spiny-tailed lizard Uromastyx nigriventris, the family Agamidae. These lizards select plants with a high K+ to Na+ ratio of 15 to 20, and like other herbivorous lizards, effectively eliminate the extra electrolyte load, mainly via a pair of active nasal salt glands, which exude the extra ions from blood. Here we present results of a series of laboratory experiments, which tested a five-week food and water deprivation and the excretory response of nasal salt glands, during a short period of five days, following salt loading by two separated injections of KCl or NaCl at a 5-day interval (4th and 9th days). During food-water deprivation, hypohydrated lizards lost 32% of their initial body mass with a substantial decrease of their Body Condition Index and the tail volume as an index of energy (fat and then potential metabolic water) storage. Plasma osmolality significantly increased by 20%. There were also significantly increased plasma sodium, chloride, and total protein concentrations. On the other hand, there was no significant decrease in the plasma glucose level. Most of the salt loaded lizards secreted far more K+ than Na+ via the nasal glands, even after NaCl loading. The K+/Na+ ratio decreased only after two to three repetitive NaCl injections but insufficient Na+ was eliminated. Two successive KCl injections were successfully eliminated, but daily natural average K+ administration induced progressive hyperkaliemia. These experimental data agreed with previous observations showing variations of plasma Na+ and K+ concentrations in free-living lizards. The nasal gland constitutes the main route of Cl− excretion but the Cl−/(Na+ + K+) ratio may vary according to observations in other herbivorous species.
Amphibia-Reptilia, Volume -1, pp 1-11; https://doi.org/10.1163/15685381-bja10068
Males of most amphibian species possess specialized cutaneous glands, known as sexually dimorphic skin glands (SDSGs). SDSGs are usually clustered in specific body regions and are externally visible, but in some cases, external differences between males and females can be slight or absent, and the occurrence of SDSGs can only be disclosed by histological studies. Chemical signals produced by SDSGs markedly affect amphibian behaviour and reproduction, and therefore their occurrence, features, and location in the body could provide information on potential mechanisms of intraspecific communication in a particular species. In the present study, we perform light microscope (both histological and histochemical), and scanning electron microscope studies of skin samples from male and female adult specimens of the invasive bullfrog Lithobates catesbeianus, covering several body regions that could hold SDSGs. Most skin areas analysed showed only ordinary granular and mucous glands despite remarkable sexual dimorphism that could be externally observed. By contrast, the male nuptial pads contained exclusively SDSGs that were hypertrophied specialized mucous glands (SMGs), closely resembling breeding glands described in other anurans. Our histochemical study revealed that these SMGs contain heterogeneous populations of secretory cells, possibly involved in pheromone production. We discuss these characteristics of the SDSGs found in L. catesbeianus, as well as the surface specialization of the nuptial pads (achieved by scanning electron microscopy) in the light of their potential role in the chemical communication in this invasive species.
Amphibia-Reptilia, Volume -1, pp 1-10; https://doi.org/10.1163/15685381-bja10070
Galápagos marine iguanas are primarily associated with the marine environment and show special nutritional adaptations. They are the only lizards worldwide that forage on marine macroalgae. Until now, consumed algae have been identified by direct observations during their feeding activities and microscopic identification in faeces samples. In this study, we use a novel DNA metabarcoding approach to identify consumed algal species from the faeces of marine iguanas. We developed primers for the ribulose-bisphosphate carboxylase (rbcL) gene and applied a metabarcoding approach to 25 individual faeces samples collected in four representative sites of two subspecies (Amblyrhynchus cristatus mertensi and A. c. godzilla), found in the San Cristóbal Island. We detected 18 consistently occurring macroalgal operational taxonomic units (OTUs). Most of the OTUs were assigned to Rhodophyta (red algae) and only one OTU to Chlorophyta (green algae). Despite the number of consumed algal species did not differ between two subspecies (OTU richness; P = 0.383), diet overlap level between A. c. mertensi and A. c. godzilla was low (Schoener index = 0.345), suggesting that both subspecies consumed different algal species in their natural environment. Further studies are needed to understand whether the difference of consumed algae reflects disparities in the abundance of algal species between sites, or whether iguanas of the two genetically differentiated subspecies prefer distinct algal species.
Amphibia-Reptilia, Volume -1, pp 1-16; https://doi.org/10.1163/15685381-bja10066
We report the discovery of a population of the exotic North African Water Frog Pelophylax saharicus around the Etang de Berre, on the Mediterranean coast of France, about 25 km north-west of Marseille. The animals had been originally identified as P. perezi or P. kl. grafi by a combination of acoustic and morphological characters and their true identity was not revealed until three samples from one locality were included in a large-scale genomic work dedicated to the genus Pelophylax. Mitochondrial barcoding of the samples from other areas around Etang de Berre did not detect any native P. perezi or P. kl. grafi and confirmed that P. saharicus has spread to several localities, does reproduce and has been present since 2011 at least. We suggest that dedicated field work is needed as soon as possible to (i) map the extant of P. saharicus’s distribution around the Etang de Berre, (ii) establish if populations of the native P. perezi – kl. grafi system still persist around the Etang de Berre or not and (iii) check if P. saharicus has spread to neighboring areas or not. Depending on the answers to these three questions, local conservationists will need to evaluate the feasibility and relevance of any action to control the spread of this new invasive species and attempt to eradicate it.