Projects

The Department of Herpetology focuses on systematic and conservation biology research of amphibians and reptiles from California and Baja California. Projects involve habitat evaluation, distribution analysis, thermoregulation, alpha taxonomy, phylogenetic reconstruction, and historical biogeography.

Amphibian and Reptile Atlas of Peninsular California

The Department of Herpetology focuses on biodiversity research and is home to the Amphibian and Reptile Atlas of Peninsular California. The Atlas documents amphibians and reptiles from southern California and Baja California using both Museum collection data and observations from citizen scientists. Learn more.

Department Research Activities

Read about new discoveries, field research and conservation highlights. Learn more.

What We’re Up To

Specimens and resources in our archives are not just of interest for their historical value; they are strikingly relevant today. The Museum is five years into a multi-year project to photograph and digitize every one of the 76,000 specimens in its Herpetology collection, some of which date back to the 1890s. Read more.


The flat-tailed horned lizard has the most limited distribution of any horned lizard species in the United States, and its habitats have been impacted by development, off-road vehicle activity, and more. Using records of where the animal has been observed, coupled with data from the museum’s historic collections, scientists can understand the environmental factors that shape patterns of biodiversity and learn what the lizard needs to survive.  Read more.


Museum scientists are taking action to restore California Red-legged Frog habitat in Baja California in response to massive declines in their population. Read more.


Seeking out the diversity of life is challenging, especially for amphibians and reptiles. Scientists have focused their attention on Baja California for nearly 200 years and the discovery of new amphibian and reptile species has become rare. Unlike super-diverse groups, like arthropods and plants, herpetologists are now approaching a complete understanding of the region’s species composition. And with this knowledge, new doors are opening. Read more.