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Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California, Including Its Pacific Islands and the Islands in the Sea of Cortés

Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California, Including Its Pacific Islands and the Islands in the Sea of Cortés

Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: 1
Pages: 413
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  • Book Info
    Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California, Including Its Pacific Islands and the Islands in the Sea of Cortés
    Book Description:

    The Baja California peninsula is home to many forms of life found nowhere else on earth. This, combined with the peninsula's rugged and inaccessible terrain, has made the area one of the last true biological frontiers of North America. L. Lee Grismer is not only the foremost authority on the amphibians and reptiles of Baja California, but also an outstanding photographer. He has produced the most comprehensive work on the herpetofauna of the peninsula and its islands ever published. With its stunning color images, detailed accounts of many little-known species, and descriptions of the region's diverse environment, this is the definitive guide to the amphibians and reptiles of a fascinating and remote region. The culmination of Grismer's quarter century of fieldwork on the Baja peninsula and his exploration of more than one hundred of its islands in the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortés, this book gives information on the identification, distribution, natural history, and taxonomy of each species of amphibian and reptile found there. Preliminary accounts of the life history of many of the salamanders, frogs, toads, turtles, lizards, and snakes are reported here for the first time, and several species that were almost unknown to science are illustrated in full color. The book also contains new data on species distribution and on the effect of the isolated landscape of the peninsula and its islands on the evolutionary process. Much of the information gathered here is presented in biogeographical overviews that consider the extremely varied environments of Baja California in both a contemporary and a historical framework. An original and important contribution to science, this book will generate further research for years to come as it becomes a benchmark reference for both professionals and amateurs.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92520-5
    Subjects: Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    Harry W. Greene

    Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja Californiais the fourth volume in a new University of California Press series on organisms and environments. Our themes are the diversity of plants and animals, the ways in which they interact with each other and with their surroundings, and the broader implications of those relationships for science and society. We seek books that promote unusual, even unexpected connections among seemingly disparate topics, and we want to encourage projects that are special by virtue of the unique perspectives and talents of their authors. Our first volume, by Carl E. Bock and Jane H. Bock, concerned...

    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiii)
    (pp. 1-39)

    Baja California is the second longest and the most geographically isolated peninsula in the world. Over the last four to five million years, it has undergone a uniquely complex tectonic origin and ecological transformation. What we see today as the Baja California peninsula was originally connected to the west coast of mainland Mexico but was torn away by differential movements of the Pacific and North American plates. Since then, it has been carried approximately three hundred kilometers to the northwest along what has become known as the San Andreas Fault. This separation occurred in various stages of uplift, submergence, and...


      (pp. 43-53)

      The primary intent of this book is to serve as a guide to the identification, distribution, natural history, and taxonomy of each species of amphibian and reptile in Baja California, its associated Pacific islands, and the islands in the Gulf of California (hereafter referred to as the region of study). Throughout this book “Baja California” refers to the landmass of the Baja California peninsula from the U.S.-Mexican border south to Cabo San Lucas, and not to the geopolitical state of Baja California, which extends from the U.S.-Mexican border south to the 28th parallel. The state of Baja California is here...

      (pp. 55-61)

      The Plethodontidae are the world’s largest group of salamanders, containing approximately 27 genera and 320 species (Frost 1985; Duellman 1993), and the only group of salamanders represented in Baja California. Plethodontids can be distinguished from all other salamanders by the presence of nasolabial grooves and parasphenoid tooth patches, and the absence of lungs. Lacking lungs, they rely entirely on cutaneous respiration. With the exception of several species from France and Italy, the Plethodontidae are confined to the New World, ranging from southern Canada to central South America. Plethodontids inhabit a wide range of habitats and occupy a variety of terrestrial,...

      (pp. 63-85)

      The family Bufonidae contains approximately 33 genera and 400 living species. Its distribution is worldwide with the exception of Australia, Madagascar, oceanic islands, and very cold regions. Within its vast distribution, it occupies a tremendous variety of ecological niches. Bufonids for the most part are short, squat, and warty, although there are some very slender and smoothskinned forms. They are distinguished from all other frogs and toads by the retention of a Bidder’s organ in adult males, the absence of teeth, the presence of the “otic element,” and unique characteristics of their musculature (Ford and Cannatella 1993). The Bufonidae are...

      (pp. 87-105)

      The Emydidae contain approximately 33 genera and 91 species (Ernst and Barbour 1989) and are the largest and most diverse lineage of turtles. They are distributed nearly worldwide, with most representatives occurring throughout the nondesert areas of North and Central America and the West Indies south to southwestern South America (Pough et al. 2001). In the Old World, emydids range throughout Europe, northwestern Africa, and Asia as far south and east as Sulawesi in the Indo-Australian Archipelago. Emydids are absent only from the continents of Australia and Antarctica.

      The majority of the species of this lineage are semiaquatic omnivores with...

    • 4 LIZARDS
      (pp. 107-251)

      The Crotaphytidae (Frost and Etheridge 1989) is a New World group of lizards containing the two generaCrotaphytusandGambelia, which collectively contain 12 species (McGuire 1996). The Crotaphytidae range from eastern Oregon south into northern Mexico and east to the Mississippi River. They are diurnal predators, feeding largely on other lizards and insects, which they often ambush and crush with their powerful jaws. Although these two genera coexist throughout a large portion of their range, they probably compete only minimally.Crotaphytusare generally restricted to rocky foothills and alluvia, whereasGambeliaare more commonly associated with open flatlands. The...

      (pp. 253-255)

      The Bipedidae are a New World group of lizards containing one genus(Bipes)and three species. Bipedids have a fragmented distribution, with one species,B. biporus, occurring in southern Baja California and the remaining two,B. canaliculatusandB. tridactylus, being allopatrically distributed in the states of Guerrero and Michoacán in southwestern Mexico (Papenfuss 1982). Bipedids are unique among amphisbaenians in that they have forelimbs with five(B. biporus), four(B. canaliculatus), or three (B. tridactylus) claws. All other amphisbaenians are limbless. Bipedids are burrowing lizards, found most frequently in loose, wellaerated soils; they rarely surface above ground. All bipedids...

    • 6 SNAKES
      (pp. 257-342)

      The Leptotyphlopidae are a peculiar group of snakes containing two genera and approximately 87 species (Pough et al. 2001). In the New World, leptotyphlopids range widely throughout the southwestern United States, south through Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies to southern South America. In the Old World, they range through much of southwest Asia and nearly all of Africa. Leptotyphlopids are slender, fossorial species with immovable, edentate maxillae; four to five teeth on each dentary; and vestigial eyes lying beneath an ocular scale (List 1966).

      The genusLeptotyphlopscontains over 75 species that collectively range widely throughout the American...

    (pp. 343-346)
    (pp. 347-354)
    (pp. 355-366)
    (pp. 367-390)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 391-400)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 401-401)