U.S. field guides

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John Martin
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U.S. field guides

Post by John Martin » October 12th, 2018, 11:43 am

Hi all. After living in Australia for 13 years I'm back in the U.S.A., currently living in south-central Florida (top end of Lake Okeechobee). I need field guide help. I just ordered the Audubon Society Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of North America from Amazon. com. Hate it - hate the layout and lack of photographs of subspecies, and maps showing only the species as a whole. Any recommendations to an alternative would be greatly appreciated. I'd still like to stick with a not too large volume if that's possible. Any feedback is greatly appreciated! Thanks, John

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: U.S. field guides

Post by Bryan Hamilton » October 12th, 2018, 2:02 pm

I still like the Peterson guides. There is an eastern and western version.

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John Martin
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Re: U.S. field guides

Post by John Martin » October 12th, 2018, 4:00 pm

Thank you Bryan, can you tell me a little about that guide? Photographs vs drawings, maps showing delineation of subspecies, range maps on same page as the animal?, etc,? Thanks in advance!

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: U.S. field guides

Post by Bryan Hamilton » October 12th, 2018, 4:08 pm

John Martin wrote:hotographs vs drawings, maps showing delineation of subspecies, range maps on same page as the animal?
All of the above. Its really the premiere guide(s) and the maps are often better than some of the state guides.

They are also very, very reasonably priced at around $15.

I haven't used the newly revised eastern version in the field yet but the western guide is still my go to. Stebbins really put together an incredible product. The "bible" really for me.

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Fieldherper
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Re: U.S. field guides

Post by Fieldherper » October 12th, 2018, 4:11 pm

Make sure to look at state/regional guides as well--they are often more detailed with better maps (dot locality) and better natural history information. Florida has several herp guides.

FH

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John Martin
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Re: U.S. field guides

Post by John Martin » October 12th, 2018, 5:00 pm

Excellent, thanks Bryan. And thank you for your input also FH.

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John Martin
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Re: U.S. field guides

Post by John Martin » October 12th, 2018, 6:38 pm

OK, I've looked at the Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, fourth edition online, but it states "over 100 color photographs". Doesn't sound like a photo of every species and subspecies? Which Peterson guide do I need? Sorry to be a pain, but I'm having a problem with guide selection. I really don't have easy access to a decent book store to hold a book in hand. Any thoughts?

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Jeremy Wright
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Re: U.S. field guides

Post by Jeremy Wright » October 12th, 2018, 8:06 pm

Hi John

Most of the Petersons field guides to my knowledge have the hand drawn illustrations by Stebbins, so I'm guessing the 100 photographs are in addition to those. The illustrations are really quite good and as far as I remember there are illustrations for different subspecies, color variants, and patterns if immature vs mature animals look different.

I've used a Peterson guide as my primary field guide for over a decade and it's been great. Unfortunately with so much information being online now I rarely use it, but whenever I go on trips the trusty guide is always in my car.

Jeremy

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BillMcGighan
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Re: U.S. field guides

Post by BillMcGighan » October 13th, 2018, 4:52 am

Another vote for the Peterson Guide for the East, especially in the field.

I'm not as pleased with the newest edition because he must have done range maps from preserved specimens only.
There are several incidents of minor range differences with our own data base.

Still it's the most comprehensive and easy to take to the field.

PS
I think you'll enjoy the area you are moving to. Habitat (and thus species) variation is great there, not to mention its historical herping legacy.

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John Martin
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Re: U.S. field guides

Post by John Martin » October 13th, 2018, 2:18 pm

Thanks for the input guys. Bill, are you saying you like the third edition more than the fourth?

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BillMcGighan
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Re: U.S. field guides

Post by BillMcGighan » October 13th, 2018, 5:43 pm

I preordered the latest and have used it since it came out.
The newest has the most up-to-date taxonomy accepted by CNAH and SSAR, and some more real photos mixed in the text, so it is pretty good.

I've been using that series since the 1958 edition and each release gets better.

My issue was with a few errors that a good editor would have caught, and some minor range map issues.

I would get the latest.

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John Martin
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Re: U.S. field guides

Post by John Martin » October 14th, 2018, 5:30 am

Thanks Bill!

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Re: U.S. field guides

Post by FrogO_Oeyes » January 4th, 2019, 10:14 pm

I got the Audubon guide when it was new and reasonably current. It hasn't been updated noticeably in 40 years, and everything in it was small to begin with. It was great when it was new but is now badly dated by scores of species, and inadequate compared to others. I have a few other continental/national guides. I'm not a fan of the Bartlett guides. Taxonomy is uneven, range maps are sometimes badly wrong, and while I like field trip stories, more than a couple of "found it road-cruising" stories lose my attention in a hurry and just aren't 'in the field'. I have all the Peterson editions I think, Eastern and Western. I swear by them, for the most part. The illustrations are larger and excellent, the maps are pretty good, and the text accounts are mostly extensive and detailed. They're also updated with each edition, more or less. That said, I'm quite disappointed by the 4th western edition. The splits of Hypsiglena and Lampropeltis zonata are included. The mainland British Columbia [confirmed] population of Contia isn't included, the range map of Charina has many unexplained question marks and a large chunk of range in Alberta for which there is no evidence, the range of Plethodon idahoensis is much larger than shown for BC. It would be helpful to mention the likely species breaks within Plethodon idahoensis, Ascaphus montanus, and Ascaphus truei, and the numerous identified species within the Anaxyrus boreas (including the omitted A.williamsi) complex. Better information on the biogeography of the Plethodon elongatus and Aneides could have certainly been included, as there's plenty of data on cryptic species and their ranges. The revisions [splits] of Taricha torosa, Actinemys, Lampropeltis pyromelana, L.getula, L.triangulum, Sistrurus catenatus, Crotalus molossus, Sceloporus undulatus, and Gastrophryne occidentalis are ignored completely, excluded, or glossed over. The split of Hydromantes shastae is understandably missed, but that of Anniella is included. Diadophis are lumped as a single species, despite the best evidence indicating at least 14 species which largely coincide with the ranges of named subspecies (separately or in combination) or presumed hybrids. The "South Coast" member of the Thamnophis sirtalis complex should have been identified. Personally, I would have liked to have the Montanucci revision of Phrynosoma hernandesi compared side by side with the more generally accepted data, but I think it's fair to exclude it. Bogertophis is included for California, but it's not clear if there's any new evidence associated with that. Acris crepitans rather than A.blanchardi is included, but the text does indicate blanchardi as the regional subspecies. The new and ambivalent genus names Hyliola and Dryophytes are not used [although ASW recognizes the latter]. That's just off the top of my head.


In the field, I generally include a Peterson guide, maybe a Bartlett, and no Audubon. I also include as many local and regional guides as are appropriate, plus digital and printed versions of various taxonomic or distributional papers, sometimes including old ones [which may have details not included in newer stuff]. It's debatable whether I will include the 4th western, as I'm not sure it's an improvement over the revised 3rd edition.

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John Martin
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Re: U.S. field guides

Post by John Martin » January 26th, 2019, 5:01 pm

Thanks for that detailed info FrogO, and sorry for the late reply. For some reason I've been unable to log into the forum for around a couple of months. I immediately emailed Scott and he said he would look into it. Just yesterday I got another email from him telling me about the forum update and to try again - it works now and it's really good to be back! Kudos to Scott!

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