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Reptile & Amphibian Accounts

Craig Ivanyi, Janice Perry, Thomas R. Van Devender (desert tortoise) and Howard Lawler (desert tortoise)

Herpetologists (people who study amphibians and reptiles) from other parts of the United States have long been intrigued by the unique and rich assemblage of reptiles and amphibians (herpetofauna) of the Sonoran Desert. This diversity is not surprising considering the complex landscapes of mountains and valleys with rocky to sandy soils, the variable climate with two distinct rainy seasons, and the diverse vegetation. But the diversity of reptiles and amphibians reflects evolutionary origins intertwined not only with the history of the Sonoran Desert itself, but also with other major biotic provinces such as the grasslands of the mid- continent to the east and the “New World” tropics to the south.

In the following section, accounts are given for the species commonly encountered in the Arizona Upland subdivision of the Sonoran Desert. Other species of special interest that are seen less often or occur in other habitats in the region will also be covered.