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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Brief History of Herpetology in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, with a List of Type Specimens of Recent Amphibians and Reptiles


An overview of the herpetological program of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ), University of California, Berkeley, is presented. The history of herpetological activities in the MVZ and more generally at Berkeley is summarized. Although the MVZ has existed since 1908, until 1945 there was no formal curator for the collection of amphibians and nonavian reptiles. Since that time Robert C. Stebbins, David B. Wake, Harry W. Greene, Javier A. Rodríguez-Robles (in an interim capacity), and Craig Moritz have served in that position. All type specimens of recent amphibians and nonavian reptiles in the collection are listed. The 1,765 type specimens in the MVZ comprise 120 holotypes, three neotypes, three syntypes, and 1,639 paratopotypes and paratypes; 83 of the holotypes were originally described as full species. Of the 196 amphibian and nonavian reptilian taxa represented by type material, most were collected in México (63) and California (USA, 54). Information is also provided concerning the collection. The first entry in the herpetological catalog in the MVZ was made on March 13, 1909 (MVZ 1, Crotaphytus bicinctores), and as of December 31, 2001, the collection contained 232,254 specimens of amphibians and nonavian reptiles. Taxonomically, the collection is strongest in salamanders, accounting for 99,176 specimens, followed by "lizards" (squamate reptiles other than snakes and amphisbaenians) (63,439), frogs (40,563), snakes (24,937), turtles (2,643), caecilians (979), amphisbaenians (451), crocodilians (63), and tuataras (3). A list, exclusive of abstracts and book reviews, of more than 1,300 articles, book chapters, and books on any aspect of the biology of amphibians published by researchers associated with the MVZ since its founding is available online at

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