The breeding activity of the Japanese common toad, Bufo japonicus formosus, was monitored in Yamakita-machi, Kanagawa Prefecture and Minami-osawa, Hachioji-shi, Tokyo, during 1992–1994 and 2011–2013. The breeding activity began in late February–mid March, and lasted for one to three weeks. The number of breeding toads captured per day varied, and the effects of the lunar phase on the breeding activity were analyzed using circular statistics. Rao’s spacing test indicated that large reproductive events were not uniformly distributed along the lunar cycle (U=166.1, n=46, P<0.01); more events occurred around the new moon and very few events occurred around the full moon. In addition, analysis of a generalized linear model incorporating both lunar phase and weather conditions, such as temperature and rainfall as predictors, indicated that the lunar phase significantly affected the breeding activity, even after taking into account the effects of weather conditions. The adaptive significance of this lunar-mediated breeding activity of the toads is discussed. Reproductive synchronization in this species may be related to the behavioral response to the lunar cycle.
Wildlife is one of the most important food resources in Laos, and many species are sold at the local markets, but the fauna of the country remains poorly known. As a result of human impacts, including overharvesting for food consumption, many wild animals in Asia face imminent extinction. Our study focused on reptile species that were sold at local markets in Laos. The data were recorded in February, August, and September 2013. We found 16 reptile species in the local market: eight freshwater turtle species, Cuora amboinensis, Cyclemys oldhamii, Malayemys macrocephala, M. subtrijuga, Sacalia quadriocellata, Siebenrockiella crassicollis, Amyda ornata, and Pelodiscus sinensis, one tortoise species, Manouria impressa, four lizard species, Calotes versicolor, Physignathus cocincinus, Varanus nebulosus and V. salvator, and three snake species, Malayopython reticulatus and two species of Ptyas. Most of these reptile species are used by local people as foods. Two species are recorded for the first time from Laos or the surveyed region. Our results suggested that the cryptic diversity of the reptile fauna of Laos still exists and highlighted the importance of field surveys and conservation actions.
A new dicroglossid frog allied to Bornean Limnonectes kuhlii-like fanged frogs is described from Krayan of East Kalimantan, Indonesia, and Kelabit Highlands of northern Sarawak, East Malaysia based on morphological characteristics. The new species, L. sinuatodorsalis is superficially similar to other Bornean species L. asperatus and L. hikidai in small body size and poorly developed webbing on the fourth toe, but differs from them in several characteristics, especially in dorsal texture. The new species occurs syntopically with Limnonectes cf. kuhlii in both the two known localities, possibly through ecological segregation by large body size difference between them.
We describe a tiny megophryid frog Leptobrachella juliandringi sp. nov. from Northeastern to Central Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. This species is distributed in hilly and montane regions, and has long been confused with L. mjobergi. Based on the assessment using morphological and bioacoustic approaches, we conclude that the new species is distinct from all the other congeneric species including topotypic L. mjobergi from western Sarawak in possessing a series of elongate glands ventrolaterally on the trunk, broken reticulated marking on the ventrum, strap-like lineae masculinae, and an advertisement call with a chirp. The new species is also differentiated phylogenetically from the other congeners, and tends to form a group with true L. mjobergi but with a large genetic divergence.
Temporary pools are important resources for animals that have aquatic stages during their life history, and particularly for those living in dry climate regions. We investigated the breeding activity of an anuran assemblage in a small temporary pond in the Ampijoroa dry forest of Ankarafantsika National Park, northwestern Madagascar, during the first half of the rainy season from 2000 to 2001 and during the entire rainy season and the beginning of the dry season from 2003 to 2004. We also surveyed the anuran fauna of Ampijoroa throughout the long-term research conducted from 1999 to 2014. We estimated the breeding activity based on the calling intensity of male frogs. A total of 12 species of frogs was recorded, and eight out of them were confirmed to breed in the temporary pond. These eight species consisted of five families, including one introduced species. The initiation of calling activity seemed to be affected by rainfall in several species. Five of the eight species (Ptychadena mascareniensis, Boophis doulioti, Blommersia wittei, Heterixalus luteostriatus and H. tricolor) were considered prolonged breeders, and the other three (Laliostoma labrosum, Hoplobatrachus tigerinus, and Dyscophus insularis) were considered explosive breeders. Two species (Mantidactylus ulcerosus and Stumpffia sp.) were not observed to use the temporary pond for their breeding sites. Neither calls nor breeding sites of the remaining two species (Scaphiophryne calcarata and Mantella ebenaui) were confirmed, although they have been described to breed in stagnant water. This study indicates that temporary ponds in the Ampijoroa forest, which are quite limited in number, provide important habitat for reproduction of frogs, which are living in a harsh environment.
A new extinct species of the genus Mauremys (Testudines: Geoemydidae) is described on the basis of three fossils from the late Pleistocene deposit of Tomori Amaga Cave on Miyakojima Island of the Miyako Island Group, Southern Ryukyus, Japan. Of these fossils, two (the anterior half of the plastron and the nuchal) were previously tentatively identified as Mauremys mutica, an extant species whose distribution is currently confined to the Yaeyama Island Group within the Ryukyus. The turtle represented by these two specimens and another, previously unreported material (left third peripheral) actually most resembles M. japonica from mainland Japan and the Northern Ryukyus, and M. yabei from the middle Pleistocene of mainland Japan. The fossil turtle however, differs from the other two in exhibiting a medial length of the entoplastron greater than the interhyoplastron in ventral view, and in having a longitudinal groove medial to the gulo–humeral sulcus on the epiplastron evident in dorsal view. The present finding strengthens endemicity of the recent terrestrial fauna of the Miyako Island Group.
A non-native insectivorous lizard, the green anole (Anolis carolinensis), is causing a severe negative impact on the insect fauna of the Ogasawara Islands of Japan, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site. A common method to capture anoles is to use adhesive traps. We tested if attracting the lizard by bait improves the effectiveness of these traps. We examined the effects of a lizard’s (1) length of fasting period, (2) distance to the bait, and (3) access to the bait on feeding attempts in a laboratory experiment using 15 lizards collected from Chichi-jima Island. Responses to the baits were also observed in the field, and stomach contents of the trapped lizards were analyzed to assess fasting level in a natural population. The number of lizards that reached the bait was positively correlated with increased fasting days. With a smaller number of days of fasting, the number of lizards that reached the bait was significantly higher when the bait was 50 cm away than 195 cm. Based on the stomach contents of wild A. carolinensis on Chichi-jima, the fasting period of invasive A. carolinensis was typically short, with 92% of the lizards foraging at least every other day. Both laboratory and field experiments indicate the bait must be less than ca. 2 m away to effectively attract the lizard. There is no clear difference between a lizard’s attraction to crickets tethered to a line and those housed in a transparent cup. Therefore, whether the lizard could physically capture the prey did not alter the effectiveness of the bait. This suggests that using an artificial bait simulating prey movement may also be effective.
Plestiodon kishinouyei is the largest skink in Japan and is endemic to Miyako and Yaeyama Islands, located in the southern part of the Ryukyu Archipelago, Japan. It is considered to be heliothermic and thus exclusively diurnal. However, I observed this species to be active on Iriomote-jima Island several times at night. Nocturnal activity was recorded mostly on rainy nights and exclusively in fall, whereas most daytime activity was observed on days without rain and in the summer. These field observations suggest that P. kishinouyei is occasionally active at night. To better understand its thermal ecology, further studies of the nocturnal habits of P. kishinouyei should be performed.
The Hokkaido salamander, Hynobius retardatus (Caudata: Hynobiidae), is a common salamander species distributed throughout Hokkaido Island, Japan. Because of its regional morphological diversity and flexible phenotypic plasticity, its demographic history and the causes of its distribution patterns are of intrinsic interest to evolutionary biologists. To address these issues, a microsatellite marker is an ideal genetic marker for inferring gene flows and hybridizations between populations on a fine scale. We therefore utilized an Ion PGM™ sequencing system to screen the H. retardatus genome for microsatellite markers. As the result, we identified 12 polymorphic markers. We then tested the usefulness of these markers in H. retardatus by genotyping 20 individuals from each of two regional populations (the Erimo and Nopporo populations). The total number of alleles ranged from 3 to 8, and the expected heterozygosities per locus ranged from 0.049 to 0.803. We expect the developed markers to be useful for future studies of demography of this species.
We estimated the phylogenetic relationships of an enigmatic small toad Parapelophryne scalpta from Hainan Island, China to nine other bufonid genera from Southeast and East Asia using ca. 2000 bp sequences of the mitochondrial DNA genes 12S rRNA, tRNAval, and 16S rRNA using maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference methods. The East and Southeast Asian bufonid genera formed a clade in which seven lineages with unresolved relationships to each other were recognized. Monophyly was supported only for (A) Parapelophryne and Bufo, (B) Phrynoidis and Pedostibes, and (C) Leptophryne and Ansonia. All genera were genetically divergent from each other and Parapelophryne, erected purely based on morphology, could be recognized as a distinct genus. On the other hand, it was found to be the sister genus of East Asian Bufo, an unexpected result given their great morphological difference and discontinuous distribution.