The study of amphibians and
reptiles is called herpetology, from the Greek word herpes, meaning
"creeping thing" (a description many would consider as less than complimentary!).
There are about 4600 species of amphibians and 6000 species of reptiles
is an amphibian?
Amphibians consist of three
groups of vertebrates: frogs, salamanders and caecilians (found in the
tropics only). Amphibians have smooth, scaleless skin which is permeable
to water. Water can evaporate easily from the skin, and an amphibian
can dry up and die in a few hours if it does not have access to water.
Thus amphibians tend to be active at times when evaporation is minimized:
at night and when it rains.
However, this same skin permeability
makes it possible for amphibians to obtain moisture from sources besides
pools of water. This means that amphibians can live in very dry climates,
like deserts, and when the dry season arrives, they just burrow underground
and pull in moisture from the surrounding soil. Despite this, the amphibian's
tie to water remains: their eggs must be laid in water in order to survive.
The amphibians of Quebec
include frogs and salamanders.
(Pough et al., 1998)
is a reptile?
Reptiles were the world's
first truly terrestrial vertebrates. All reptiles have scaly skin that
can withstand dessication and lay eggs with hard shells, therefore they
are not tied to the water like their relatives, the amphibians. Since
they can live on land, they also have an expanded lung system.
Reptiles include turtles,
crocodilians, lizards, snakes and tuatara (found only in New Zealand).
The reptiles of Quebec are represented by turtles and snakes only.
many species are there in Quebec?
Curently, there are 37 known
species of amphibians and reptiles in Quebec.
A camera, text or map icon
next to a species' name indicates a link to a photo, description or
map of that species.
the data in these maps
The maps showing the distribution
of Quebec's amphibian and reptile species come from the Atlas of
Amphibians and Reptiles of Quebec (Bider
and Matte, 1996) with kind permission from the St. Lawrence Valley
Natural History Society.
The atlas data is the result
of eight years of data collection, both in the field and from published
documents, unpublished reports and museum databanks, to gather all existing
data on the distribution of each species of amphibian and reptile in
the province. The data on these maps are the result of over 7000 distribution
records. Nonetheless, it is important to keep in mind that the geographic
distributions represented in these maps are not the complete picture.
Some parts of the province have not been adequately inventoried. As
well, common species are often not carefully noted, therefore accurate
distribution data are not available.
(Bider and Matte, 1998)
For presentation of the distribution
data, Quebec was divided into blocks of 15° longitude by 15° latitude.
A blank block may mean that either the species is not found there, or
that no one has yet looked there for that species. The different shades
of grey signify different sampling periods as shown below:
Some distribution maps have
been witheld to protect the locations of species at risk.
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