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Herp Atlas Project

NYS Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project logo
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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. Turtles, snakes, and lizards are reptiles.

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. Records prior to 1989 were also sought, and together the data was 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. Others, such as those in the Adirondacks and where there are high human populations, have fewer.

Purpose of the Herp Atlas Project

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.

Newsletters

To provide information to our volunteers, a series of Herp Atlas Newsletters (PDF) were published from Spring 1995 to Autumn 1999. All newsletters have been combined into one PDF document. These contain articles on our progress, how to identify species, atlasing techniques, and other items of interest.

Acknowledgments

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 (most links leave DEC website):

Click on a picture below to see a list of NYS species and species distribution maps.

Picture of a salamander
Red Salamander courtesy
of Alvin R. Breisch
Picture of a frog
Pickerel Frog courtesy
of Andrew T. Clay
picture of a snake
Timber Rattlesnake
courtesy of Ed McGowan
Picture of a turtle
Box Turtle courtesy of
John W. Ozard

More about Herp Atlas Project :