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Fourth Edition

F. Harvey Pough, Robin M. Andrews, Martha L. Crump, Alan H. Savitzky, Kentwood D. Wells, and Matthew C. Brandley

Publication Date - July 2015

ISBN: 9781605352336

744 pages
9 x 11 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $174.99

Presents a functional understanding of amphibians and reptiles--what they do and how they do it, and how those attributes are related to their ecology and evolutionary history


Herpetology, Fourth Edition, explains why amphibians and reptiles, which are distantly related evolutionary lineages, are nonetheless grouped in the discipline known as herpetology, and describes the position of amphibians and reptiles within the evolution of vertebrates. Initial chapters present the fossil history of amphibians and reptiles and the phylogenetic relationships of extant groups, with descriptions of the biological characteristics of each family and photographs of representative species. The phylogenetic and biogeography chapters have been extensively revised to incorporate the most recent molecular phylogenetic information, including extensive discussion of the expanding field of phylogeography. Subsequent chapters consider amphibians and reptiles from morphological, physiological, ecological, and behavioral perspectives. The book concludes with a discussion of the threats facing amphibians and reptiles and approaches to conserving herpetological diversity.

Herpetology, Fourth Edition, serves as a textbook for undergraduate and graduate-level courses and as a comprehensive source of information about amphibians and reptiles for professional biologists, hobbyists, and interested laypersons.

About the Author(s)

F. Harvey Pough is Professor Emeritus in the Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences of the Rochester Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in 1968 from the University of California at Los Angeles, with Kenneth S. Norris and Malcolm S. Gordon. In addition to Herpetology, he has headed up the author team on nine editions of Vertebrate Life (Benjamin Cummings/Pearson). Dr. Pough is a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and The Herpetologists' League, and Past President of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. His research focuses on organismal biology and evolutionary physiology, especially that of amphibians and reptiles.

Robin M. Andrews is Professor Emerita in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech. She received her Ph.D. in 1971 at the University of Kansas with Charles Michener and Daniel Janzen. She made the transition from Entomology to Herpetology during a postdoctoral fellowship at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute with A. Stanley Rand and Ernest Williams. Her current research interests are the physiological ecology and natural history of reptilian eggs and embryos and the evolution and adaptive significance of developmental patterns of squamate reptiles.

Martha L. Crump is a behavioral ecologist who works with tropical amphibians in the areas of reproduction, ecology, and conservation. She is currently Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biology and the Ecology Center at Utah State University, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biology at Northern Arizona University. Dr. Crump received her Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in 1974, working with William E. Duellman. Her research, carried out in Amazonian Ecuador, focused on community ecology and reproductive behaviors of frogs. In 1997, she received the Distinguished Herpetologist Award from The Herpetologists' League. Together with Dr. James P. Collins, Dr. Crump published Extinction in Our Times: Global Amphibian Decline (2009).

Alan H. Savitzky is Professor and Head of the Department of Biology at Utah State University. He completed his graduate degrees at the University of Kansas (with William E. Duellman), receiving a Smithsonian Predoctoral Fellowship to conduct his dissertation research at the National Museum of Natural History. Dr. Savitzky is a Past President of both the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles and the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, and currently serves as Treasurer of the World Congress of Herpetology. His research concerns the integrative biology of amphibians and reptiles, especially snakes. Specific interests include the evolutionary morphology of feeding and defensive structures, evolutionary development of sensory organs and glands, and, most recently, the evolution of chemical defenses in snakes.

Kentwood D. Wells is Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut. He received his Ph.D. in 1976 from Cornell University, with F. Harvey Pough. His book, The Ecology and Behavior of Amphibians (2007) was Best Single-Volume Science Reference Book for 2007 (Association of American Publishers Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division) and an Outstanding Academic Title for 2008 (Choice magazine). His 1977 paper on The social behaviour of anuran amphibians (Animal Behaviour 25:666-693) was the first of 12 papers designated as most influential in the first 60 years of the journal. Dr. Wells researches the social behavior and communication of amphibians.

Matthew C. Brandley is an Australian Research Council DECRA postdoctoral fellow at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia. He received his PhD in 2008 from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Brandley studies the phylogenetics and morphological evolution of vertebrate animals, especially lizards and snakes. He is particularly interested in how complex structures and unique body plans convergently evolve, and he studies these phenomena using a combination of genomic, gene expression, anatomical, and phylogenetic tools. He lives in New South Wales Australia with his wife, son, two cats, and two axolotls.

Previous Publication Date(s)

July 2003
August 2000
November 1997

Table of Contents


    Chapter 1. Why Study Herpetology?
    1.1. Changing Perspectives
    1.2. The Diversity of Amphibians and Reptiles
    1.3. Shared Characteristics of Amphibians and Reptiles
    Ectothermal thermoregulation
    Costs and benefits of ectothermy and endothermy
    Body size and shape
    Ectothermy and efficiency
    1.4. Amphibians and Reptiles in Terrestrial Ecosystems
    1.5. The Future of Amphibians and Reptiles

    Chapter 2. Phylogenetic Systematics and the Origins of Amphibians and Reptiles
    2.1. Principles of Phylogenetics and Taxonomy
    Building phylogenies
    Rank-free taxonomy and phylogenetic nomenclature
    Discovering and describing new species
    Molecular data and species identification
    2.2. Evolutionary Origins and Processes of Amphibian and Reptile Diversity
    The ecological transition from water to land
    The transition from fish to tetrapods
    Early tetrapodomorphs
    Early tetrapods
    2.3. Three Hypotheses for the Origin of Extant Amphibians
    The temnospondyl hypothesis
    The lepospondyl hypothesis
    The diphyly hypothesis
    Why do different analyses support different hypotheses of lissamphibian origins?
    2.4. Relationships among Extant Lissamphibian Lineages
    Monophyly of Lissamphibia
    Paedomorphosis in lissamphibian evolution
    2.5. Characteristics and Origin of the Amniotes
    The origins of Amniota
    The major amniote lineages: Synapsida and Diapsida
    2.6. Diapsida: Lepidosauria and Archosauria
    2.7. The Debated Origins of Turtles

    Chapter 3. Systematics and Diversity of Extant Amphibians
    3.1. What Is an Amphibian?
    Amphibian life histories
    Amphibian skin
    3.2. Caudata: Salamanders
    Reproduction and life history
    Fossil record
    Systematics and Phylogeny of Salamanders
    3.3. Anura: Frogs and Toads
    Skeletal morphology
    Reproduction and life history
    Fossil record
    Systematics and Phylogeny of Frogs
    3.4. Gymnophiona: Caecilians
    Reproduction and life history
    Fossil record
    Systematics and Phylogeny of Caecilians

    Chapter 4. Systematics and Diversity of Extant Reptiles
    4.1. Characteristics of Reptiles
    Reptile skin
    Sensory systems
    4.2. Lepidosauria: Rhynchocephalia
    The tuatara
    Fossil record
    4.3. Lepidosauria: Squamata
    General anatomy of squamates
    Reproduction and sex determination
    Tail autotomy
    Limb reduction
    Venom and venom-delivering structures
    Squamate phylogeny
    Fossil record
    4.4. Squamata: Lizards
    Systematics and Phylogeny of Lizards
    4.5. Squamata: Serpentes, the Snakes
    Unique morphological features of snakes
    Fossil record
    Systematics and Phylogeny of Snakes
    4.6. Crocodylia
    Fossil record
    Systematics and Phylogeny of Crocodylians
    4.7. Testudines: Turtles
    The turtle skeleton
    The turtle shell
    Locomotion and reproduction
    Fossil record
    Systematics and Phylogeny of Turtles

    Chapter 5. The Biogeography of Amphibians and Reptiles
    5.1. Biogeographic Analysis
    5.2. Dispersal
    Transoceanic dispersal
    Transcontinental dispersal
    Human-mediated dispersal
    5.3. Vicariance
    Pangaea and the Mesozoic origin of modern amphibians and reptiles
    Laurasian and Gondwanan origins of extant amphibians and reptiles
    Africa and faunal exchange with southern Europe
    Madagascar: An ancient continental fragment
    The Seychelles Islands: Endemism on a microarchipelago
    The Indian subcontinent: Gondwanan elements rafting to southern Asia
    The Australian Plate: Mixed Gondwanan and Laurasian elements
    South America
    Origin of Central American assemblages
    Merging faunas: The Great American Biotic Interchange
    The Indo-Australian Archipelago and the Philippines
    5.4. Phylogeography: Biogeography of the Recent Past
    Climate change, isolation, and refugia
    Sky islands
    5.5. Island Biogeography
    Island gigantism and dwarfism
    Adaptive radiations on islands
    Island paleoendemism


    Chapter 6. Water and Temperature Relations
    6.1. Water Uptake and Loss
    Routes of water gain
    Routes of water loss
    6.2. Water and the Ecology of Amphibians and Reptiles
    Short-term water balance
    Long-term water balance
    6.3. Heat Gain and Loss
    Absorption of solar radiation
    Metabolic heat production, M
    Infrared (thermal) radiative exchange, R
    Convective exchange of heat, C
    Evaporative cooling, LE
    Conduction, G
    6.4. Mechanisms of Thermoregulation
    Thigmothermy and kleptothermy
    Set-point temperatures
    6.5. Physiological Mechanisms of Thermoregulation
    Moving heat within the body
    Metabolic heat production
    6.6. Effectiveness of Thermoregulation
    6.7. The Coevolution of Energy and Water Exchange

    Chapter 7. Energetics and Performance
    7.1. Sites of Gas Exchange
    Nonpulmonary gas exchange
    Pulmonary gas exchange
    Gas exchange by eggs
    7.2. Patterns of Blood Flow
    Pulmonary and systemic blood flow
    Blood flow in the heart
    Cardiac shunts
    7.3. ATP Synthesis: Oxidative and Glycolytic Metabolism
    Red and white muscle
    Metabolic rates
    Glycolytic metabolism
    Lactic acid metabolism
    Total ATP production and activity
    7.4. Environmental Variables and Performance
    Effects of environmental conditions on adults
    Effects of the nest environment
    7.5. Energy Costs of Natural Activities
    Vocalization by anurans
    7.6. Metabolic Depression: Aestivation, Hibernation, and Freezing
    Hibernation and aestivation
    Freeze resistance and freeze tolerance
    7.7. Annual Energy Budgets

    Chapter 8. Reproduction and Life Histories of Amphibians
    8.1. Sex Determination
    8.2. Reproductive Cycles
    8.3. Modes of Fertilization
    Internal fertilization by salamanders
    External fertilization by salamanders
    External fertilization by anurans
    Internal fertilization by anurans
    Internal fertilization by caecilians
    8.4. Hybridogenesis and Kleptogenesis
    The European waterfrog complex
    Kleptogenesis among Ambystoma
    8.5. Reproductive Modes
    8.6. Evolution of Direct Development and Viviparity
    8.7. Evolution of Parental Care
    Benefits of parental care
    Costs of parental care
    Who cares?
    8.8. Egg Size and Clutch Size
    Variability in egg size
    8.9. Complex Life Cycles, Larval Development, and Metamorphosis
    Complex life cycles
    Larval development of caecilians
    Larval development of salamanders
    Larval development of anurans
    Hormonal control of metamorphosis and developmental plasticity
    The ecology of metamorphosis
    8.10. Paedomorphosis

    Chapter 9. Reproduction and Life Histories of Reptiles
    9.1. Sex Determination
    Mechanisms of sex determination
    Adaptive significance of GSD and TSD
    Ecological consequences of TSD
    9.2. Asexual Reproduction
    9.3. Reproductive Modes
    Oviparity: Eggshells, eggs, and nests
    Characteristics of viviparous species
    The evolution of viviparity
    9.4. Parental Care
    9.5. Reproductive Anatomy, Gametes, and Sperm Storage
    9.6. Embryonic Development
    Differentiation and growth
    Genetic regulation of development
    Phenotypic plasticity in development
    Comparative developmental biology
    9.7. Reproductive Cycles
    Aseasonal cycles
    Seasonal cycles
    9.8. Life Histories of Reptiles
    Patterns of life history variation
    Trade-offs and life history evolution

    Chapter 10. Body Support and Locomotion
    10.1. Body Support and Thrust
    10.2. Lever Systems
    10.3. Terrestrial Locomotion with Limbs
    10.4. Jumping
    10.5. Terrestrial Limbless Locomotion
    10.6. Aquatic Locomotion
    Undulatory swimmers
    Oscillatory swimmers
    10.7. Burrowing
    10.8. Climbing
    10.9. Aerial Locomotion

    Chapter 11. Feeding
    11.1. Suction and Suspension Feeding
    Salamanders and caecilians
    11.2. Terrestrial Feeding Mechanisms
    Akinetic, nonprojectile feeding
    Projectile feeding
    Kinetic feeding
    11.3. Capturing and Subduing Prey


    Chapter 12. Spatial Ecology
    12.1. Ecological Consequences of Movement
    12.2. Methods for Studying Movements
    12.3. Types of Movement
    12.4. Resource Dispersion and the Use of Space
    Spatial strategies
    Home range fidelity and homing
    Finding the way home
    12.5. Territoriality
    Costs and benefits of territoriality
    Sex and territoriality
    Site defense
    12.6. Migration
    Breeding migrations of amphibians
    Breeding migrations of terrestrial reptiles
    Breeding migrations of sea turtles
    Migrations to overwintering sites
    12.7. Dispersal Strategies
    Dispersal by amphibians
    Dispersal by reptiles

    Chapter 13. Communication
    13.1. Modes of Communication
    13.2. Constraints on Signal Production
    Body size
    Physiological constraints
    13.3. Communication and Noise
    Acoustic noise
    Visual noise
    13.4. Communication by Salamanders
    Communication by plethodontids
    Communication by salamandrids
    13.5. Communication by Anurans
    Acoustic communication
    Visual communication
    Chemical communication
    13.6. Communication by Turtles
    Tactile communication
    Visual communication
    Chemical communication
    Acoustic communication
    13.7. Communication by Crocodylians
    Communication by alligators
    Communication by crocodiles
    Communication by juvenile crocodylians
    Do crocodylians use chemical signals?
    13.8. Communication by Squamates
    Visual communication
    Chemical communication
    Acoustic communication

    Chapter 14. Mating Systems and Sexual Selection
    14.1. The Relationship of Mating Systems to Sexual Selection
    14.2. Mating Systems of Amphibians and Reptiles
    Scramble competition mating systems
    Mate searching
    Mate guarding
    Multiple mate-guarding strategies
    Leks and choruses
    Resource defense
    14.3. Variables Affecting Male Reproductive Success
    Male persistence and allocation of resources
    Male competitive ability
    Female choice
    Alternative mating tactics
    Polyandry and sperm competition
    14.4. Sexual Size Dimorphism

    Chapter 15. Diets, Foraging, and Interactions with Parasites and Predators
    15.1. Diets
    Herbivory and omnivory
    Ontogenetic and sexual variation in diet
    Temporal and spatial variation in diet
    15.2. Amphibians and Reptiles as Consumers
    Innate and learned responses to prey
    Sensory modalities
    Foraging modes
    Foraging modes that don't fit the paradigm
    Phylogeny and foraging modes
    15.3. Parasites
    Internal parasites
    External parasites
    15.4. Predators
    Predation on eggs
    Predation on amphibian larvae
    Predation on postnatal amphibians and reptiles
    15.5. Defensive Mechanisms
    Avoiding detection
    Signaling inedibility
    Avoiding capture
    Preventing consumption
    15.6. Coevolution of Predators and Prey

    Chapter 16. Populations and Species Assemblages
    16.1. Population Ecology
    What is a population?
    Population parameters and population dynamics
    Population change and population regulation
    16.2. Community Ecology
    Determinants of community structure
    Patterns and mechanisms of amphibian and reptile assemblages
    16.3. The Dynamic Nature of Assemblages
    Impact of climate change
    Recovery of assemblages following habitat destruction
    16.4. Gradients in Species Richness
    Latitudinal gradients
    Elevational gradients


    Chapter 17. Conservation and the Future of Amphibians and Reptiles
    17.1. Declining Populations of Amphibians and Reptiles
    17.2. Major Themes in Biodiversity Conservation
    17.3. Human Perceptions of Amphibians and Reptiles
    17.4. Impact of Humans on Amphibians and Reptiles
    Habitat modification and destruction
    Introduction of exotic species
    Commercial exploitation for food
    Commercial exploitation for skins, art, souvenirs, and other uses
    Hallucinogens, hunting magic, and medicine
    Research and teaching
    Global climate change
    Interaction among factors
    17.5. Patterns of Species Extinction and Extirpation
    Long-lived species
    Species with low reproductive rates

    Species that have poor dispersal and colonization abilities
    Continental endemics
    Oceanic island endemics
    Species with colonial nesting habits
    Migratory species
    17.6. Conservation Options
    Habitat protection
    Coexistence with humans
    National legislation
    Control of international trade
    Reestablishing populations
    Farming and ranching
    Sustainable harvesting
    17.7. Declining Amphibians: A Model Issue
    Possible causes of declines
    Focus: Chytrid fungi and amphibian decline
    17.8. Rediscovery and De-Extinction
    Rediscovery of species

    Literature Cited
    Taxonomic Index
    Subject Index