Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

February 1992


Published in Great Plains Research 2:1 (February 1992), pp. 120-122. Copyright © 1992 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Used by permission.


This small book (pamphlet) provides information about the amphibians and reptiles for the general reader or casual visitor to the Cimarron National Grasslands in southwestern Kansas. Some of the information derives from a brief field trip by the authors in 1987 or from museum specimens and technical literature, but most of the information is not new. Much of the material (some verbatim) comes from J. T. Collins' previous semipopular books on Kansas herpetiles.

After a short introduction and a brief discussion of the history of herp collections in the county there is a checklist of the 31 species, a note about threatened and endangered species in Kansas, and comments on how to observe amphibians and reptiles. The remainder of the booklet consists of accounts of species that provide details of identification, size, distribution, and an assortment of natural history information ranging from food to breeding to predators. There are excellent color photographs (seven of these can be found in black and white in Collins' previous book) of all the species as well as selected major habitats of the Cimarron Grasslands. The style is readable and although no glossary of terms is provided, a minimum of technical terms is used without definitions (e.g., cloaca and spermatophore). Most accounts have comments that reinforce the importance of amphibians and reptiles as a component of the environment which blend well with the overall theme of environmental awareness. The section on "how the species accounts are organized..." would be better placed immediately before the accounts rather than being interrupted by other sections. The lay reader may be puzzled about why some technical names in the checklist consist of three names and others are binomial but the authors are careful to use the appropriate common name that is applicable to either the binomial or trinomial scientific name.