San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature Connection[BRCC San Diego Natural History Museum: Herpetology Department]


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Department Research Activities

Alligator lizards of Southern Baja California and a Herpetofaunal Survey of Islands in the Gulf of California

Postdoctoral herpetologist, Dr. Bradford Hollingsworth, participated in two consecutive research trips to Baja California in 1999. The first trip, in late August and early September, focused on Alligator lizards from the mountains of southern Baja California and a herpetofaunal survey of islands in the Gulf of California. During his second trip, he joined up with scientists from Centro de Investigaciones de Biologicas del Noroeste (CIBNOR) to investigate the herpetofauna of the Sierra Vizcaíno.

Brad Hollingsworth with a Masticophis, photo by LLG
Brad Hollingsworth with a Masticophis flagellum. Photo by Lee Grismer.

August 28 - September 10, 1999
Sierra Guadalupe

The Sierra Guadalupe are a part of the central backbone of the peninsula located between the coastal towns of Santa Rosalia and Mulege. In 1997 and 1998, a herpetofaunal survey was conducted in conjunction with the Binational Expedition. As a result of these initial explorations into the mountains, a new species of Alligator lizard (Elgaria) was discovered. The focus of this visit was to find juveniles, which begin hatching in late summer to early autumn, in conjunction with the monsoonal weather patterns which occur at this time of year. A total of six individuals were found, nearly doubling the existing specimens for Elgaria from central Baja California.

Dr. Lee Grismer and Jason Peters in field vehicle after a monsoonal rainshower, photo by BDH Dr. Lee Grismer and Jason Peters in field vehicle
after a monsoonal rainshower. Photo by BDH.

Gulf Islands

Four islands off the southern Baja California coast were also explored. The primary purpose of this trip was to take photographs of certain species of reptiles to be used in an upcoming book about the reptiles and amphibians of Baja California and its associated islands. These photographs will also be used for the website's Reptile Field Guide. While searching for reptiles on Isla Santa Cruz, two species of snake previously unknown to the island were found. Grismer's (1999) checklist of the insular herpetofauna of the Gulf of California is the most recent (just published in August 1999) and most complete accounting of these island's biodiversity. Yet, the discovery of two additional snakes on Isla Santa Cruz demonstrates the need for further exploration.

Brad Hollingsworth in a mexican panga, photo by LLG Brad Hollingsworth in a Mexican panga. Photo by Lee Grismer.

September 15 - September 18, 1999
Sierra Vizcaíno

Brad joined Patricia Galina from the CIBNOR to assist her team with a herpetofaunal survey of the Sierra Vizcaíno. These mountains are located along the west coast of the central portion of the Baja California and their remote nature has contributed to a poor understanding of their herpetofauna. Besides documenting lizard abundance and diversity, they also discovered a previously unreported snake from this area. These observations will be included in an upcoming paper on the herpetofauna of the Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve. The only herpetofaunal account of the Sierra Vizcaino is A report on the herpetofauna of the Vizcaíno Peninsula, Baja California, México, with a discussion of its biogeographic and taxonomic implications.