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Glossary of Herpetological Terms

... compiled by Dave Royans & Sue Knight
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Term Definition
To adjust physiologically in a new environment/conditions usually over a period of time.
Active range

An area of activity of an individual animal this is likely to be variable throughout its life as it adapts to suit its needs for instance hunting finding a mate seeking refuge etc.


Without cycles usually describing minimal variation of climatic conditions i.e. temp/rainfall.

Ad libitum
"Meaning ‘free feeding’ from Latin. Used to refer to giving an animal as much food it wants to eat until satisfied. "
Any characteristic of an animal thought to aid its ’fitness’.
Adaptationist program
The study of a characteristic attributed to a taxon in an attempt to quantify its adaptive importance.
Adaptative radiation
The analysis of a phyletic line as it spreads into new areas evolving as they adapt to cope with their novel niches.

Similar period of inactivity as brumation but usually during the summer months periods of drought or excessive temperatures.

A term used to describe ophidians lacking in an advanced delivery system for its venom such as fangs often these snakes are just in possesion of a means to produce venom although some may have grooves on some teeth towards the rear of the jaw.
Latin: Meaning White
An alternative form (one of possibly many) of the nucleotide sequences of a gene affecting the phenotype in some way usually different alleles will cause differing effects to the phenotype.
usually in context with an ‘allometric law’ or properties thereof. An allometric law is an expression of two (or more) properties of an organism for instance metabolic rate at varying thermal gradients food consumption and linear growth/body mass or feeding frequency and number of viable offspring produced etc.
Allometric growth
The disparity of body parts in their rate of growth for instance eyes growing at a proportionately slower rate the the linear growth of a snakes body could be described as allometric growth.
Allometry – the study of different growth rates proportions on and in the body.
Allopatric speciation is a term used to describe species that are geographically separated and evolve to an extent whereby they do not readily breed with each other even if a geographical barrier no longer exists.
This site has information on the following genera of Ratsnakes ... Spilotes, Spalerosophis, Ptyas, Zamenis, Elaphe, Rhinechis, Senticolis, Pseudelaphe, Pantherophis, Bogertophis, Orthriophis, Gonyosoma, Oreocryptophis, Oocatochus, Euprepiophis, Coelognathus, Archelaphe