Herpetological Atlas

Pickerel frog, Lithobates palustris
Pickerel frog (Lithobates palustris)

The Herpetological Atlas Project was a seven-year effort, running from 1992 through 1998, to document the distribution of amphibians and reptiles in Massachusetts. Mass Audubon began the Herp Atlas and coordinated the Atlas with University of Massachusetts Amherst. You can view the Atlas in its entirety on the UMass Amherst website.

What Are "Herps?"

Herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles, two ancient groups of vertebrates (animals with backbones) that have existed on earth for over 300 million years. The word is derived from a Greek word (“herpeton”) meaning “creeping animals” and that is indeed the common perception of these animals. Scientists who study amphibians and reptiles typically refer to them as “herps”, hence the Herp Atlas

About the Atlas

The Herp Atlas involved dozens of volunteers across the state who identified and documented the occurrence of amphibians and reptiles. Data collected as part of this project represent a “snapshot in time” that can serve as a reference for evaluating future changes in amphibian and reptile distribution due to population declines, species recovery or response to climate change.

There are gaps in the record and the distribution maps are incomplete. To fill these gaps, the Herp Atlas project has provided an opportunity to supplement the record via an interactive process for submitting new records and for viewing updated distribution maps.

Volunteer efforts such as this are vitally important for understanding the status of amphibians and reptiles as well as trends in their populations. Many thanks to all the volunteers who took part in the original Herp Atlas Project. Thank you in advance to those of you who will use this website to further this effort by submitting new records.

Recommended Citation for the Massachusetts Herp Atlas:

Jackson, S.D., R.M. Richmond, T.F. Tyning and C.W. Leahy (eds). 2010. Massachusetts Herpetological Atlas 1992-1998, Massachusetts Audubon Society & University of Massachusetts (www.massherpatlas.org).