Field Guide Help

Simland

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Hi,

I'm looking to buy another field guide to reptiles and amphibians. I have a good one for my province, but I want to expand the scope of my library.

I was leaning toward the Peterson guide, and the reviews here have pretty much convinced me, so I'll probably be getting the 2016 edition.

However, I have a thing for more regional guides that cover all the species found in a particular region, so I was wondering if anyone is aware of good guides for the reptiles and amphibians of Ontario or of the North Eastern United States (I live in Quebec, close to the Ontario and US borders).

I'm aware of the ROM field guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Ontario, but I have no idea if it's a reliable source. I'm suspicious of guides put together by museums...especially when said museums are not solely dedicated to nature...

That said if anyone reads French and is looking for a field guide to the reptiles and amphibians of Quebec and the Maritimes, I recommend Amphibiens et reptiles du Québec et de maritimes. It has lots of information on individual species and they all have several color photos. Each account has a paragraph that describes the physical characteristics and what to look for when trying to identify the species and a separate paragraph about the differences between it and similar species. Each section also has information about the order and the families.

If you buy it, make sure to get familiar with all of it, because there's a wealth of information tucked away outside of the species accounts, including photos of egg masses.
 

Simland

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One more thing.

If anyone has used both the 2016 (4th) edition of the Peterson guide and the 3rd edition. I'd love to have your thoughts on whether or not one is better than the other. I hear some information has been cut out because of the new additions and that the illustrations are smaller.

Is it true that the range maps in the 3rd edition are not included in the species accounts but in a separate section?

I'd like to have the most up to date version, but I'm not sure about these changes...
 

FrogEyes

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I haven't seen the newest edition, but have all previous editions, eastern and western. Range maps, tadpole and egg keys, etc, all have their own section at the back, until the third eastern edition. Most illustrations have been in a section in the middle, again until the third eastern edition. I prefer having those separated, as it allows my to directly compare maps of related species, as well as images of related species.

On the whole, museums do not write field guides. The specialists who work at or are associated with them write the guides. Those specialists tend to know their stuff, although I have small issues with some of the science in some of the guides. ROM has been home to some very prominent herpetologists. Museum curators have excellent access to their own museum's documented specimen collections, as well as unpublished data, and access to the specimens in other museums which are critical for determining habitat and current and past ranges. You will tend to get much better data from museum or university researchers/curators than from more "independent" authors.

Canada is a massive country, as are most of its provinces and territories. Consequently, range maps tend to lack in detail. Most of the Canadian field guides are now a little outdated, apart from BC and Alberta. I would characterize the Ontario guide as a decent beginner's guide, and all of the national guides would be good introductions given their broad scope and now-dated nature. I haven't seen the Quebec guide. For the northeastern corner of the USA, I only have a couple of state-level guides, but my many national and regional guides, and scientific papers mostly make up for that.
 

Simland

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I had a hands on look at the ROM butterfly guide and between that and your commendation of the ROM herpetologists, I wish the reptiles and amphibians one weren't out of print (and only available used at ridiculous prices...). That's how I wish all guides were. Plates where you can compare illustrations or pictures of the species, followed by species accounts with multiple pictures and a description of the differences between the species and other, similar, species

And, like other regional guides, it has a bit of extra information about each species to provide a more rounded view.

Maybe its good that it's out of print. Maybe it means they're going to come out with an updated edition soon. I'll have to ask...

I also had a look at the Peterson and Audubon guides and I wish I could mash the 2 together, using the plates (and page thickness!) of one and the pictures of the other.
 

FrogEyes

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The Audubon guide, and the guide for Alaska, NWT, and Yukon were my first guides. Audubon is now badly outdated, as I've never seen a revision. The species not included probably now approach a couple hundred. There have been many changes in distribution data, making the maps also very outdated [and tiny, considering it's a pocket-sized continental guide. The photos are nice, but many will be essentially useless after dozens of species have been split up. Alaska, on the other hand - still a valuable book 30+ years later!
 

Simland

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Where do you get your scientific papers?

I used to have a subscription to Conservation Biology, but it's too expensive for me at the moment... not to mention that I probably read somewhat less than half of the papers published during my subscription, which made for relatively expensive individual papers.
 
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