I have belonged to local herpetological societies since childhood, and continue to be involved with several today. A few, such as the NY Turtle and Tortoise Society, nicely serve both professional herpetologists and lay people…but whatever their leanings, all are of immense value. Today I’d like to highlight some professional groups and journals that are open to everyone.
The Bronx Zoo’s Reptile House has copies of the “Big Three” – The Journal of Herpetology, Copeia and Herpetologica – dating back to the first issues of each, and in my 21 years working there I think I went through most of them! Membership tends to be expensive (student rates are often available), so I summarize research notes from current issues and post them here on occasion (please see articles below).
The Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
I’ll lead off with my favorite organization, which publishes the world renowned Journal of Herpetology. Each issue is packed with new discoveries and information that is equally useful to hands-on keepers and theoretical researchers alike.
Another of the group’s 7 regular publications, Herpetological Review, is a wonderful forum for unpublished authors, as it specializes in short observations, new range records and the like. It is hard to put down, and always inspires me to get out and look at whatever herps are nearby.
SSAR, founded in 1958, is the world’s largest international herp organization, and hosts an extremely diverse series of activities.
The American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
Founded in 1913, ASIH is steeped in history and scholarship, and caters to those interested in fishes as well as herps. Its publication, Copeia, has a distinct scientific bend. Attending the group’s annual meeting will leave one’s head spinning (and planning new projects!) for days.
This international organization was founded in 1946 to promote the study of reptile and amphibian biology. Its quarterly publication, Herpetologica, carries original research articles of immense importance to the field of herpetology. An annual supplement, Herpetological Monographs, publishes longer articles about especially important topics.
I am grateful to the Herpetologists League for holding its annual meeting in conjunction with that of the SSAR (see above). The sheer mass of herpetological talent and interest crammed into one hotel is overwhelming, and having to pay for only 1 airline ticket is certainly welcome!
Russian Journal of Herpetology
Although only on the herp scene since 1993, this fine journal is well-worth your time. Russian-based researchers gravitate towards this publication, but it also hosts articles on all manner of species.
One of its stated goals is to promote cooperation between Russian and foreign biologists – an undertaking that will certainly benefit herps and herpetologists alike.
Phyllomedusa-Journal of Herpetology
While named after a single genus of frogs, this journal’s scope is actually very broad. It focuses on work that brings to light significant new findings of general interest to herpetologists worldwide. As long as these criteria are met, articles on any reptile or amphibian are acceptable.
Current Field Research: summaries of studies currently highlighted in journals mentioned above.
Herp Digest, the only free electronic herp newsletter, is a wonderful resource for folks looking to keep up with what’s being published in scientific journals…more on this fine publication next time.