Each year the Herpetological Education Committee (HEC) selects the recipient of the Meritorious Teaching Award in Herpetology. The awardee is selected based upon outstanding and/or notable teaching effectiveness and mentoring of research students in the area of herpetology. Letters of nomination should be submitted to the HEC Chair (Scott Boback, firstname.lastname@example.org) by 31 March 2016. More information can be found here.
Archives for February 2016
Are your eyes bigger than your stomach? This Pepper Frog (Leptodactylus knudseni) found a giant earthworm (Rhinodrilus piolli: Glossoscolecidae) that might have been too big to swallow.
Rhinodrilus piolli are evening active earthworms reaching 2.1 meters that cruise the forest floor during rainstorms, sharing space with Leptodactylus knudseni, a large sit-and wait-predator. Outside of Manaus, Brazil, observers encountered a Pepper Frog of 97.8 mm SVL that froze and began regurgitating a giant earthworm measuring 210 mm. The frog was just half the size of the earthworm, so the authors conclude that the earthworm’s size overwhelmed the frog. An alternative guess is that regurgitation of the worm was a defensive response by the frog to the presence of the observers. In either case, the earthworm was unharmed by its experience and wriggled off into the forest, perhaps to become a much larger adult.
Citation: Barros, A., P. Viana, D. Mendes, D. Pires, and R. Vogt. 2015. Leptodactylus knudseni (Pepper Frog). Diet. Herpetological Review 46 (4): 613.
Find the authors on Research Gate.
The SSAR Conservation Committee applauds the decision of the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission (NCWRC) to create an Alligator Task Force! Careful study of North Carolina’s alligator populations will provide guidelines to conserve and manage the species for the future.
Photo credit: Todd Pierson
We got involved in this issue in early January, when the NCWRC proposed opening a hunting season for alligators. When the public comment period opened, the SSAR Conservation Committee submitted a letter urging scientific study of North Carolina’s alligators before a hunting season is established. We hope that the North Carolina Alligator Task Force will look more carefully at each of the points in our letter, detailed below.
Reasons to gather more evidence before an alligator hunting season is established in North Carolina:
- Studies indicate that North Carolina’s alligator population will decline if a hunting season is established.
- North Carolina’s advisory Reptile and Amphibian Scientific Commission supports the alligator’s current ‘Threatened’ population status because it is very rare.
- North Carolina is the alligator’s northern range limit, and the cold creates conditions where alligators mature and reproduce more slowly than in the rest of its range.
- The proposed hunting season is to fall during the alligator nesting season, which will affect females guarding nests.
- Depredation permits are available for ‘nuisance’ alligators in the state, so a hunting season to prevent human-wildlife conflict is redundant. On average, 20 depredation permits are issued each year.
Photo credit: Todd Pierson
Media reporting on the Commission’s decision can be found here.
Tips for living with the iconic American alligator come from the NCWRC website.
In Herpetological Review, we publish observations of predation, parasitism, diet, and other interesting natural phenomena. We peer-review each observation for its originality, veracity, and potential to inform biology. These important observations can include photo vouchers, like this spider restraining a toad in the December 2015 issue.
Pryadarshana et al. (2015) report on predation of a Kelaart’s Dwarf Toad (Adenomus kelaartii) on the Hunuwela Rubber Estate in Ratnapura District, Sri Lanka. A huntsman spider (Heteropoda) clung with the help of sticky webs to a sub-adult toad trying to escape, eventually immobilizing the toad with its venom. The Kelaart’s Dwarf Toad is a critically endangered Sri Lankan endemic anuran, and very little information exists on its ecology and behaviors. Now, we have evidence that at least one time an individual was consumed by a spider!
While we deal with amphibians and reptiles here at SSAR, natural history observations are missing for predation, diet, and behavior of lots of species of invertebrates and vertebrates. When you trek outside your door, keep your eyes open. You never know what you will find. In fact this observation occurred during a field trip to search for dragonflies. So always record your natural history observations by taking photos. Send your photo to a local expert to see if they are unusual sightings, tweet at biologist, or upload them into an online database like iNaturalist. With each observation, we learn more about our natural world.
Citation: Pryadarshana, T. S., and S. J. Perera. Adenomus Kelaartii (Kelaart’s Dwarf Toad). Predation. 2015. Herpetological Review 46 (4): 611.
If your journeys bring you to Louisiana this week, keep your eyes open for individuals of the species Alligator mississippiensis with marked tails – maybe your alligator sighting is a direct result of the Louisiana alligator renewable resource program!
Wildlife management programs for species vulnerable to over-collection often include a component called “head-start”, where juveniles are raised and released back into the wild to re-join their wild cohort. The idea is that reintroduced individuals will reproduce to ensure that future generations survive.
Commercial alligator farmers in Louisiana may collect wild eggs, and a portion of those eggs are allocated to a head-start release program. After one to two years, the juveniles receive permanent identifying marks including notches on their tails before farmers release them into the swamps where they were collected.
During a search for wild eggs in June 2014, a nest was observed by C. Wall and an associate. As they approached the nest, they realized that a female was present. They watched the female deposit six to eight eggs over 20 minutes into the nest cavity. Using photographs of the tail markings, Elsey et al. (2015) report that the observed individual was a farmed animal released in 1994 at one to two years of age under the sustained use program of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Additional data to measure nest success and lifetime fertility of reintroduced alligators could help inform population management models, but for now the program is working as intended for at least this one individual.
Citation: Elsey, R., C. Wall, and M. Wall. Alligator mississippiensis (American Alligator). Nesting by a reintroduced female. 2015. Herpetological Review 46 (4): 622-623.
The private foundation established by the late Carl Gans is continuing his legacy in herpetology and biology through the dissemination of his works and offering grants to students within his fields of study.
The fund has announced that it will support travel awards available to both graduate and undergraduate students who are attending any of three different meetings in 2016, two of which are herpetology focused, including the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in New Orleans, LA (July 6-10) and also the World Congress of Herpetology in Hangzhou, China (August 15-21). All students are eligible for these awards regardless of nationality. Applications can only be submitted for a single conference (ex. you can not apply for funding to attend both JMIH and WCH). Applicants must present a paper (oral or poster) at the meeting within the broad spectrum of research conducted by Gans on the biology of reptiles and amphibians to be eligible. The application deadline for both awards is 15 March 2016. See here for more information and application instructions.
Professor Gans was considered one of the preeminent specialists on the biology of reptiles and made contributions to their systematics, comparative and functional morphology, physiology, biomechanics, and behavior in over 600 publications. The fund consists of a Board of Trustees led by Leo Gans, Dr. Ronald Gans, and Eva Lynn Gans, and a Scientific Advisory Board, which is under the direction of Drs. Kraig Adler, Aaron Bauer, Amos Bouskila, Herb Rosenberg, and Linda Trueb.
The Gans Collections and Charitable Fund has recently published Gans’ Biology of the Reptilia series online, freely available at carlgans.org. The series consists of 22 volumes and approximately 14,000 pages, covering the morphology, behavior, development, ecology, neurology, and physiology of reptiles. The webpage provides the complete table of contents and index of the series, as well as direct access to the full content of every volume. The Fund hopes that access to this valuable resource will enable and inspire further study in these fields.
The 8th World Congress of Herpetology will take place August 15th to 21st 2016 in Hangzhou, China. For more information please visit the website dedicated to this years meeting or view the most recent announcement.
There will also be substantial support for students to attend this years meeting. Herpetology students from around the world are invited to apply for the WCH8 Student Support Schemes. Up to 48 scholarships are available for Full conference support (8) and Partial conference support (40). Scholarships are competitively based on academic merit; however priority will be given to students from under-represented countries.
Submit your application via email with WCH Scholarship Application in the subject heading, no later than 16 February 2016 to:
Professor Jean-Marc Hero, WCH Secretary General:email@example.com