California Academy of SciencesHerpetology


Search The Catalog


This site provides access to specimen-associated data housed in the Department of Herpetology, California Academy of Sciences. These data are copyrighted by the California Academy of Sciences, 2000.

The herpetology collection catalog currently contains records for 268,538 specimens. The collection is comprised of the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) collection (215,241 specimens) and the Stanford University collection (SU) (53,296 specimens). The SU specimens are still tagged with their original SU numbers. Amphibians and reptiles were cataloged together in the CAS collection and separately in the SU collection. Therefore, the collection contains triplicate numbers for the first 24,299 catalog numbers and duplicate numbers for catalog numbers between 24,300 and 28,999. To search for a particular specimen use the catalog number in combination with the correct acronym.

To cite specimens in publications, use the acronym CAS or CAS-SU. Reference need not be made to Amp. or Rep. in the SU or CAS series.

Conditions of Use

These data may be used by individual researchers or research groups, but they may not be repackaged, resold, or redistributed in any form without the express written consent of the Department of Herpetology, California Academy of Sciences. If any of the data are used in an analysis or report, the provenance of the original data must be acknowledged, and the Department of Herpetology, California Academy of Sciences notified. Please provide the Department of Herpetology with separates of articles resulting from the use of these data.

Accuracy and Limitation of Liability

Although we make every attempt to provide reliable taxonomic, distribution and ecological data, we do not guarantee the accuracy of these data. Identifications are provisional and should be verified by direct inspection of the specimens whenever possible. We appreciate notification of any discrepancies in the data. The California Academy of Sciences or its staff is not responsible for damage, injury or loss due to the use of these data.

The curators and staff of the Department of Herpetology will be pleased to provide additional information regarding holdings. Please let us know how we may be of further assistance.

History of Computerization in the Department of Herpetology

The computerization of the Department of Herpetology's specimen-associated data began in October 1986 with a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant (BSR-8601255) provided funding for data entry personnel, hardware and software. The retrospective data capture of all records was completed in June 1989 at which point a total of 216,000 records had been entered.

In 1991 the Department received funding from NSF (DEB 9024386) to verify the computerized records against original catalog entries and to proof read the computerized records against specimens and bottle labels, and to build lookup and validation tables. The proof reading project was completed in 1995.

In 1994 the Department of Herpetology, California Academy of Sciences and the Department of Herpetology, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, developed an Internet site with the intent to afford researchers the ability to obtain basic information regarding collection holdings electronically. The Combined index to Herpetology Collections is a searchable database that summarizes the holdings of US and foreign museums. Data are limited to genus, species and number of specimens per taxon for most institutions. Currently, the database contains information for more than 25 museum collections.

In 1994 the Department of Herpetology also introduced an Internet searchable list of the CAS holdings. Data available were limited to genus, species, country, and the number of specimens per taxon per country.

In 2000, a searchable database containing all specimen related data was posted on the Internet. The database can be queried by 20 fields or by a combination of data fields. The main catalog is also linked to a bibliography of publications that cite CAS specimens by catalog number. To date, 1,166 publications have been entered, linking to 72,332 catalog numbers. Overall, 60,124 specimens in the collection have been cited in publications. This is an under-estimation because not every publication cites CAS material by catalog number and not every publication that cites CAS material has been entered into the database.

The database also links to information regarding the Department's tissue collection. In 1999 NSF (DBI 9876766) provided funding for additional tissue storage equipment and supplies so that the herpetological tissues housed in the Osher Molecular Laboratory and the Department of Herpetology could be integrated into one system. Once the two tissue collections were incorporated the data relating to both tissue collections where added to the Department's database and later added to the Herpetology Catalog web site. The Department currently houses tissues for 5,224 individual specimens.

The Query Form

A query form enables records to be retrieved from the database. A help file provides instructions for its use as well as browsing capabilities for some fields (e.g., Family, Genus, and Species).

The Data Screen

The Stated Locality is the locality description as given in the Department's ledgers or (assembled) from the collector's field notes. The displayed locality is our interpretation of the stated locality. If locality qualifiers such as country, primary or secondary administrative units, elevation, or latitude and longitude are present in the interpreted locality but not given in the stated locality the information has been added. For latitude and longitude the source of the coordinate information is usually given.

Approximately 23% (60,124 specimens) of the collection has been cited by catalog number in publications. If the specimen queried has been cited in a publication(s) a link will appear in the lower right corner of the display form. If you are aware of additional publications that cite specimens by catalog number please notify the collection manager (

Obtaining Large Data Files

If you require a large subset of our data (more than 1,000 records) or require the data in a different format (i.e. ASCII, Excel, etc.) please contact the collection manager ( Data can be supplied on disk, CD-ROM, via e-mail, or posted for download on the Academy's FTP server.