BioGecko Issue 2, October 2014

Welcome to our second issue of BioGecko, released in October 2014.

There is one open access article (look for the link below).


BELL, TRENT. Editorial.



OBITUARY - Anthony Hume Whitaker (1944-2014).



Standardized common names for New Zealand reptiles.

Abstract: After consultation with the wider herpetological community, the Society for Research on Amphibians and Reptiles in New Zealand and the Department of Conservation recently revised the common name nomenclature for New Zealand reptiles in 2014. In this report, the standardized names are identified. Reporting the new names here will enable wider adoption of these names in the herpetological literature. Some previous names are also provided, to assist in the reconciliation of names in older texts.

Bell 2014 - standardized common names for New Zealand reptiles.




Relative abundance and habitat use of Hochstetter's frog (Leioplema hochstetteri) in Northern Great Barrier Island: a snapshot from 2012.

Abstract: The Hochstetter’s frog (Leiopelma hochstetteri) populations on Great Barrier Island are genetically distinct from mainland populations and represent the only offshore island location for this species. Previous surveys have shown that frogs are widespread throughout forested areas of the northern part of the island, with an additional population near the centre of the island. However, the trend in abundance of these populations is currently unknown. Here, we report on the relative abundance and habitat use of Hochstetter’s frogs encountered during a survey of the headwaters of five catchments in northern Great Barrier Island conducted between November and December 2012. A minimum of 253 individual Hochstetter’s frogs were found within 1.5 km of stream habitat. Both juvenile and adult frogs were encountered. Continued presence of these frogs in four catchments was confirmed, and frogs were detected in a catchment that had not been previously surveyed. Two stream headwaters appeared to yield a lower relative abundance than during a previous survey in 2009. Relative frog abundance was positively correlated with the frequency of waterfalls and boulders, and was lower in sediment-loaded streams that had finer substrates and a kanuka-dominant canopy. Hierarchical cluster analysis of the 13 habitat features that were moderately to strongly correlated with abundance could accurately discriminate transects by both frog abundance and presence of juvenile frogs. This may provide a useful quantitative method for assessing Hochstetter’s frog habitat quality in cases where the number of habitat measures exceeds the number of transects surveyed. A sustained monitoring programme for Hochstetter’s frog abundance in northern Great Barrier Island is recommended to assess the long-term population trend.

Herbert et al 2014 - Hochstetter's frog, Leioplema hochstetteri.



Tail loss as an indicator for predation pressure on Naultinus populations.

Abstract: I examined data on tail loss, or autotomy, in jewelled geckos (Naultinus gemmeus). This data was collected over four years of surveys on Otago Peninsula, South Island, New Zealand. Individual geckos were identified based on their individually unique dorsal patterns and monitored through time. I looked at relationships between the presence or absence of livestock grazing, habitat composition and the incidence of tail loss in jewelled geckos. In addition, I compared incidents of tail loss between Otago Peninsula and a mammal predator-free site at Orokonui Ecosanctuary. Two habitats were examined: Coprosma spp. shrubland and kānuka dominated forest. I predicted that the incidence of tail loss would be higher at ungrazed sites in both habitats, due to an assumed higher density of rodent and mustelid predators. In ungrazed Coprosma shrubland, a significantly higher incidence of tail loss in jewelled geckos (compared to grazed Coprosma shrubland) was observed. In contrast, grazing appeared to have no significant effect on the incidence of tail loss in kānuka. No tail loss was recorded at Orokonui Ecosanctuary. These results are interpreted, including an assessment of all other possible causes of tail loss in jewelled geckos. This assessment supports the contention that tail loss frequencies may provide a coarse measure of predation pressure on Naultinus geckos. This research adds to growing evidence which suggests that predation by pest mammals can be a significant threat to lizard populations living in fragmented shrubland with abundant rank grasses.

Knox 2014 - Jewelled gecko, Naultinus gemmeus.



--MITCHELL, PETE. A newly discovered skink at Bream Head, Northland.

--KNOX, CAREY. Jewelled geckos (Naultinus gemmeus) in the tussockland of Otago.


In Review

Abstracts of 62 scientific papers, technical reports and theses published between 2012-2014 on the New Zealand herpetofauna.


Photo Galleries

--REES, GLENDA. In dire straits - grey faced heron predating on a southern grass skink.

--BELL, TRENT. The Garston skink reappears at Macraes Flat!

--FARMER, LOUISE. Live births - of Mokopirirakau granulatus