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Posted by Will on June 22, 2002 at 06:24:57:
Catalog of California Amphibians and Reptiles
22 June 2002
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The following taxonomy list of amphibians and reptiles to California, North American is primarily derived from Crother (2000, Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding, SSAR Herpetological Circular 29), Stebbins (1985, A field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians 2nd ed., Houghton Mifflin Company), Jennings (1987, Annotated Check List of the Amphibians and Reptiles of California, Southwestern Herpetologist’s Society Publication 3), Behler (1979, The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians., New York: Alfred A. Knopf) and Collins (1997, Standard Common and Current Scientific Names for North American Amphibians and Reptiles, SSAR Herpetological Circular 25). The checklist written by J.T. Collins is updated regularly on the internet by the Center for North American Herpetology as new discoveries are reported. Many exotic species are introduced into California through human negligence. Most never, establish healthy reproducing populations. But a few, such as Rana catesbeiana, Rana berlandieri, Xenopus laevis, Apalone spinifera, and Hemidactylus turcicus have established thriving populations and consequently have been added to the Catalogue List.
When creating what was thought to be a simple task, shifted into a challenge to form a Catalog of California Amphibians and Reptiles. Crother’s book (2000, Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding, SSAR Herpetological Circular 29) is the most recently published and expresses recommendations of Herpetology designation. However, it appears to have two major faults. Crother advises altering word forms and adding descriptive terms to assist non-herpetologists. Inexplicably, Crother took two words (sea turtle, rat snake, Gopher Snake, Garter Snake, Ground Snake, Lyre Snake, Night Snake, and Sea Snake) and combined them (seaturtle, ratsnake, gophersnake, gartersnake, groundsnake, lyresnake, nightsnake, and seasnake). It is difficult to imagine a greater way to twist the taxonomy of California. If Crother’s terminology becomes standardized, unnecessary confusion will arise. Seaturtle, gartersnake, and others are not English words and not recognized by the majority. Computer processors, dictionaries, high school and college professors will recommend corrections, unfamiliar readers to herpetology articles will question writing style. In effect, it is impractical to take words that have meaning (e.g. sea and turtle) to form a word that has no connotation. If this terminalgy is correct, then why the hestation to combine other species (e.g. Polarbear, Mountainlion, Greatwhiteshark). Perhaps future writings by Crother will promote combining words (e.g. Tigersalamander, Arroyotoad, Leopardfrog, Mudturtle, Nightlizard). In addition, Crother’s book adds descriptive terms to help non-herpetologists determine what type of creatures Loggerhead, Ridley, Green Turtle, Hawksbill, and Leatherback are by adding sea turtle to their titles. If that is the case, consistency is needed, perhaps Crother should define what an Ensatina, newt, spadefoot, softshell, skink, whiptail, and countless other species are to assist novice. In conclusion, Crother could be neglecting his number one rule “Long-established names in widespread use should be retained, regardless of any inaccuracy of description, behavior, habitat, location or family relationship suggested by name, unless there is a compelling and special reason.