Herp Atlas Project
Herp Atlas Logo
What are Herps?
The word "herp" is short for herpetofauna, which is the general term for amphibians and reptiles as a group. Frogs, toads and salamanders are amphibians, while turtles, snakes and lizards are reptiles.
What was the Herp Atlas Project?
The Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project (Herp Atlas) was a ten year survey (1990-1999 that was designed to document the geographic distribution of New York State's herpetofauna. There are approximately 70 species of amphibians and reptiles in New York State. They occur in a wide variety of habitats from the Adirondack Mountains to the Finger Lakes to Long Island's ocean waters, as well as in the cities and suburbs in between.
The survey began in 1990 and continued through the end of 1999. During this ten year period data were compiled that documented the distribution of New York's herpetofauna. Records prior to 1989 were also sought, and together these data will eventually be combined to form an overall NYS herpetological database.
The unit of measurement for collecting atlas data is the USGS 7.5 minute topographic quadrangle. The goal was to record at least 20 species in each of these quadrangles. Some quadrangles, such as those in the lower Hudson Valley, have many more species present, while others, such as those in the Adirondacks and where there are high human populations, have fewer.
What was the Purpose?
In order to monitor changes in populations and to make sound management decisions, we must have a reliable information base from which to work. The information gathered on the current status of our populations will help us to document what changes may be taking place.
In the past decade or two there has been much discussion concerning the status of populations of amphibians. While there seems to be a general decline in this group of animals, long term monitoring projects are the only way to address this problem with scientific accuracy.
To provide information to our volunteers, a series of newsletters were published. These contain articles on our progress, how to identify species, atlasing techniques and other items of interest.
There are numerous organizations and individuals whose financial contributions and support helped to launch the Atlas Project. In addition to funding from New York State, support for the New York State Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project was provided by the following individuals and organizations (all links leave DEC website:)
- Biodiversity Research Institute
- Hudson River Estuary Program
- Institute of Ecosystem Studies
- Mohonk Preserve
- New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Cornell University
- New York Natural Heritage Program
- New York Turtle & Tortoise Society
- Return a Gift to Wildlife
- Sabin Conservation Fund
- Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
- State University of New York at Cortland
- The Wildlife Society - New York Chapter
- Upstate Herpetological Association
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Federal Aid to Endangered Species (Section 6)
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partnerships for Wildlife
- Harvey and Bernice Weinstein
Click on a picture below to see a list of NYS species and species distribution maps.
We would like to thank the following individuals for the use of their photographs:
Alvin R. Breisch - Red Salamander
Andrew T. Clay - Pickerel Frog
Ed McGowan - Timber Rattlesnake
John W. Ozard - Box Turtle
More about Herp Atlas Project :
- Herp Atlas Project Newsletter Archives - New York State Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project newsletters 1995-1999.
- Species of Salamanders Found in New York - Salamanders of New York and their distribution.
- Species of Toads and Frogs Found in New York - Toads and Frogs of New York and their distribution.
- Species of Turtles Found in New York - Turtles of New York and their distribution.
- Species of Lizards and Snakes Found in New York - Lizards and snakes of New York and their distribution.