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Reptiles and Amphibians of Coastal Southern California
Released: 3/21/2001

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Robert Fisher 1-click interview
Phone: 619-594-1685

The highly developed and urbanized area of coastal southern California is host to one of the richest regions of amphibians and reptiles in the United States, and includes several species with state- and federal-protected status. A new illustrated field guide, available on the Web, and developed by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey and University of California, San Diego, can help users identify 64 native reptile and amphibian species and seven introduced species found in the counties of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside and San Diego. "A Field guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Coastal Southern California" is located at http://www.werc.usgs.gov.

"Since 1995, we have been conducting an intensive study of reptile and amphibian communities in the coastal southern California region and saw the pressing need for a well-illustrated field guide to help train students, researchers, reserve managers, regulators and others to identify the local herpetofauna, with emphasis on sensitive species," said Dr. Robert N. Fisher, a USGS zoologist with the Western Ecological Research Center in San Diego, and coauthor of the guide.

The field guide’s species inventory has color photos, scientific and common names, size and distinguishing characters, information on juveniles and differences in sexes, and additional notes. Visitors can click on hyperlinks to compare species that are similar in appearance. The field guide also contains hyperlinks for lists of the species, a quick index with pull-down menus, and illustrations of tadpoles and technical terminology. Introduced species are included in the field guide if they are relatively widespread and have self-sustaining natural populations.

"Aiding in the correct identification of species will increase the understanding of this animal group and the utility of biology work currently underway in southern California," said field guide coauthor Dr. Ted J. Case, professor of biology at the University of California, San Diego.

With funding from state and federal agencies, and non-government organizations, Fisher and Case have documented more than 50,000 individual reptiles and amphibians from coastal southern California study sites. Data collected from their study will be analyzed and combined with global positioning system data to map the biological resources of the coastal southern California region to aid habitat conservation planning efforts in the region.

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