Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of the ACE Basin
There are over 600 species
of amphibians (salamanders, frogs, and toads) and reptiles (lizards,
snakes, turtles, and alligators) in the United States.
Over a hundred of these
can be found in the ACE Basin area.
Amphibians have moist glandular skin. The name implies that these animals live a double life ("amphibious"): with few exceptions amphibians have a larval stage that is aquatic and an adult stage that usually is terrestrial. Thus, larvae and adult animals live in different habitats and have different lifestyles. Three groups belong to the amphibians: Salamanders (Urodela), Frogs and Toads (Anura or Caudata), and Caecilians (Gymnophiona). The latter group only occurs in the tropics. Amphibians use their skin for gas exchange and it is also permeable to water. Amphibians do not drink, they take up water through their skin. Their eggs are not covered by a calcareous membrane.
Reptiles are covered with keratinized scales, shields, or plates. This protects them from losing water through their skin. Most lay eggs with a calcareous membrane (oviparous), but some give live birth. Most reptiles are terrestrial- but even those that are not deposit their calcareous eggs on land. Four groups belong to the reptiles: Lizards and Snakes (Squamata), Turtles (Testudinea), Crocodilians (Crocodylia), and Tuataras (Rhynchocephalia). The latter group contains only two species that are restricted to New Zealand. Strictly speaking birds (Aves) also belong to the reptiles, because they descended from the same ancestor as other reptiles. But since birds are so different from the other groups, they are excluded from herpetology (the study of amphibians and reptiles).
This guide gives a brief introduction to the various groups of reptiles and amphibians that may be encountered in the ACE Basin area. It contains species and family descriptions with images and soundclips where applicable and available. The literature listed under the description of each family is an example of published piece of research that specifically pertains to the systematics of a family.
Table 1. List of number of species found in the ACE Basin as well as numbers of species of particular legal status.
SE = State Endangered
ST = State Threatened
FT = Federal Threatened
FE = Federal Endangered
There are a number of great webpages for Amphibians and Reptiles- please check the following page that contains links to some of these.