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.

Saving the California Red-legged Frog from Extinction

In San Diego County, the California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) went extinct in the 1970s. The Nat is contributing to the recovery of the frog in both the United States and Mexico as part of a binational, collaborative effort. Learn more.

What We’re Up To

From across a crowded pond...male frog calls give female frogs information about a potential mate. We’re continuing to study the California Red-legged Frog with the help of acoustic monitors that record their calls. Read more.


Becoming a Herpetologist

Posted: November 3, 2020

Herpetology Collections Manager Frank Santana shares how his childhood experiences in nature led to a career studying reptiles and amphibians. This is the first in a series of blog posts focused on protecting the endangered California red-legged frog from extinction. Read more.


Return of the Frogs

Posted: April 9, 2020

President and CEO Judy Gradwohl shares a first-person account of a recent milestone for conservation: I had arrived early at the release site in case the egg transport went faster than anyone anticipated. This quiet overcast day marked the culmination of many years of hard work to return California red-legged frogs to their historic range in Southern California, where they have been absent for about 20 years. Read more.


The Top 10 Specimens of the 2010s

Posted: December 26, 2019

In the spirit of the decade-spanning top ten lists that abound in our collective news feeds, we asked our curators to nominate two to three of the best specimens that were collected or discovered in the 2010s. We got 17 nominations, and musuem staff and volunteers voted to narrow the list down to “The Top 10 Specimens of the 2010s.” Read more.


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.