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Lizards & Snakes


Lizards & Snakes


Cortland Herpetology Connection

About the New York Amphibian and Reptile Atlas

Information about the N.Y. Department of Environmental Conservation's program to document the distribution of herps throughout the state.

New! New York State Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project
This new website features more information about the project. Especially helpful are species lists and maps of their distribution in New York. (See links from the bottom of the homepage.)
For the past several decades, there has been a great deal of literature published concerning the decline of amphibian populations. Direct causes of these declines remain unknown, although habitat loss and degradation, acid rain and a higher incidence of roadkills are likely factors. Reptiles are vulnerable to similar threats and many snakes have the additional stigma of being disliked in general. In addition, reptiles are vulnerable to illegal collecting. New York State currently lists 2 amphibians and 10 reptiles as either endangered or threatened, and 10 amphibians and reptiles as species of special concern.

A reliable set of baseline data is necessary to understand and document changes in wildlife populations over an extended period of time. In New York, however, a comprehensive survey of amphibians and reptiles (herpetofauna or "herps") has never been completed. Although field guides provide us with ranges of the species that occur here, we really do not know the exact locations of our herpetofaunal populations. Nor do we know the details of their activities.

In 1990 the Department of Environmental Conservation launched a survey of ambystomid salamanders (species of the genus Ambystoma). This survey grew to include all species of herps and, within a few years, became the Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project.

The goal of the Atlas Project is to document the distribution of all of the herpetofauna in New York State. The state has been divided into 985 atlas blocks which coincide with USGS 7.5 minute topographic quadrangle maps. Volunteers across the state fill out Herp Survey Cards documenting their observations and return them to us. The information provided includes county, town and quad where the species was seen, date of observation and information on the individual(s) seen, as well as the observer's name and address.

This information will provide baseline data on the current status of our herp populations, which will then be available for comparison with future population studies. We also hope to contribute to the scientific knowledge of the life history of some species by carefully recording observations such as dates of emergence from hibernation, calling by frogs and presence of egg masses, larvae or neonates.

The Amphibian and Reptile Atlas is a reality because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers across the state who record their observations on survey cards and submit them. Volunteers range in age from children to retired persons and come from all backgrounds. Each has a desire to experience the outdoors and to have a hand in its conservation. We are grateful for your participation and dedication.

For more information, contact project director Al Breisch.

Herp Atlas Staff:

Alvin R. Breisch, Project Director
John W. Ozard, Computer Systems Design
Kimberley Corwin Hunsinger, Project Coordinator
Alison Keeble-Preville, Data Control

Amphibian and Reptile Atlas
Wildlife Resources Center
108 Game Farm Road
Delmar, NY 12054-9767


Dr. Peter Ducey, Project Director
Biology Department, SUNY Cortland
Email: duceyp@cortland.edu
Craig Cramer, Webmaster
Email: cdcramer@clarityconnect.com

Special thanks to all those who generously loaned images and other help. See our credits page for more information.