Herpetology Highlights

  • tetragenesis


    Frogs of the Arabuko-Sokoke forest.
    more >>

  • Galapagos Tortoise Collection


    Collecting herpetological specimens since 1853.
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  • Expeditions


    Herpetology in Myanmar and the Gulf of Guinea
    more >>

  • Collections


    Explore Herpetology's vast collections
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During the past two and half decades, the Department has produced well over 100 scientific papers, and authored or contributed to the publication of at least 11 books. Herpetology faculty and staff have served as officers and board members of national and international organizations such as the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Geological Society of America, Willi Hennig Society, California Institute for International Studies, Forum for the History of Science in America, the Biodiversity Foundation for Africa (Zimbabwe) and the National CITES Standing Committee of the Kenya Wildlife Service, to name a few.

Collection Statistics

As of March 2011, 300,761 specimens have been cataloged in the Department of Herpetology. The collection is comprised of the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) collection (247,465 specimens) and the Stanford University (CAS-SU) collection (53,296 specimens).

African Frogs

Visit Dr. Bob Drewes' pages on The Frogs of the Impenetrable Forest, Frogs of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Gulf of Guinea Treefrogs, and the discovery of a new Serengeti Treefrog.  The Amphibian and Predator list, available on the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest page, contains images, sounds, and descriptions of the frogs, some of the predators, and other inhabitants.

Herpetology Grant Programs

The Section of Herpetology maintains two grant programs: The Charles Stearns Memorial Grant-In-Aid for Herpetological Research and The Brett Stearns Award for Chelonian Research. Please see Funding Opportunities link above for more information.

New species of reptiles and amphibians discovered from Myanmar

Download Dr. Jeff Wilkinson's presentation of new species discovered in Myanmar.




Projects funded by the National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has funded several major California Academy of Sciences Herpetology Department projects.

Herpetology Department Innovations

The members of the Department of Herpetology pride themselves in being one of the more creative and innovative departments in the Academy. Our past three decades have included many Academy "firsts."

The Digitization and Rectification of the Brown and Alcala Philippine Collection

The California Academy of Sciences maintains the largest collection of Philippine amphibians and reptiles in the world, comprised of 29,656 whole preserved specimens, representing 386 taxa, including 95 holotypes, 12 syntypes (10 taxa), seven neotypes, two lectotypes, two paralectotypes and 1,813 paratypes (102 taxa). The collection’s breadth covers 98 islands including all the main islands within the Philippine Archipelago. Over 156 scientific publications have utilized specimens from this collection, and at least 10,713 specimens (over one third of specimens) have been cited.

Research Expeditions

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Search Collections

Our collection of amphibians and reptiles is one of the ten largest in the world, containing more than 300,000 catalogued specimens from 166 countries.

Contact the Department

  • Herpetology
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • 55 Music Concourse Drive
  • San Francisco, CA 94118
  • 415-379-5292 (direct)


The Summer Systematics Institute and the Biological Illustration Internships will be offered June 16 to August 8, 2014.  The application period for this term is now open.  Deadline to apply is February 21st 2014.


Learn more





February 21, 2014


  • Can you identify a reptile or amphibian for me?

    Positive identifications can only be made if a specimen is brought to our laboratory.  We cannot declare genera based solely upon general descriptions, drawings, or even photographs.

  • I'm thinking of becoming a Herpetologist or know someone who is developing an interest. Do you have any advice?

    Herpetology is a wonderful field with many possibilities.  Please visit our staff pages to learn more about our interests, foci, and specialties first and then send an email or letter with your questions.  We'll answer as best we can and as time permits (sometimes we're in the field for up to 2 months at a time!)

  • What’s the best way to take care of my animal?

    Please note that we do not work with the live animals on exhibit, nor do we focus on husbandry. Inquiries regarding animals on exhibit should be directed to the Aquarium, and for inquires regarding husbandry, we recommend contacting the East Bay Vivarium.

  • Can I donate specimens?

    We only accept donations of specimens if you are able to provide locality data, (this includes latitude and longitude as given by a GPS unit). Otherwise please contact the Academy's Naturalist Center . They take donations of specimens that are in good condition for educational purposes.

  • Can I tour Herpetology?

Dr. Drewes Gulf of Guinea Blog

Our eighth expedition has been a very different one; except for GG V this has been our only all-education mission.  Readers will recall that our biodiversity awareness program began in 2010 when we assessed the curriculum for biology in school across both islands. Then we began annual distribution of educational materials to a cohort of […]
The Biodiversity Education team has been hard at work on our product for GG VIII, of April, 2014.  The 2000 students we have been visiting since the 3rd grade are now in the 5th grade and will be moving on next year, so this is our last visit with them.  We have produced a slightly […]
Colleagues in London, Drs. Simaikis and Edgecombe of the Natural History Museum, have just published a paper on centipedes that includes some very old specimens from São Tomé and Príncipe collected as early as the 1930’s.  Among the material, they discovered a new. presumably endemic species. Meet Otostigmus coltellus (left), from Zootaxa 3734 (2013). For […]

Become a Donor

For those who would like to support young herpetologists, tax deductible donations can be made to 'the California Academy of Sciences', with a cover letter stating that the money is to be credited to Herpetology at the Academy. Please address your donation to:


Herpetology Chair
California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Drive
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA. 94118
United States