Welcome to the KHA:
The Kansas Herpetofaunal Atlas (KHA) was inspired by and is dedicated to, Joseph T. Collins. His legacy is not just in the accumulation of knowledge through the countless hours of fieldwork and research in libraries and museum collections... but in synthesizing and sharing that information to a greater audience.
The KHA originated in the spring of 1999 as a small project to document the herpetofaunal diversity of the state using emerging web-based technologies. A State Wildlife Grant (USFWS/KDWPT/Sternberg Museum joint venture) in 2003 facilitated enhancements to the site and produced a significant increase in specimen occurrence records. Additional assistance was provided by the Center for North American Herpetology, the Kansas Herpetological Society, and many individual volunteers.
The occurrence records (some going back to the 1830s) are a baseline for future research, assist with conservation needs as they arise, and contribute to increasing public awareness of the amphibians and reptiles in the state.
The KHA contains information on all known occurrences of Kansas' amphibians and reptiles. Unique to the site, are the most up-to-date distribution maps of each species known to occur (or potentially occur) within the state. The species accounts summarize the description, distribution, natural history, taxonomy, and an ever-growing list of references for each species.
The KHA is a work in progress. It is updated daily to ultimately present a complete Kansas Herpetology, an exhaustive resource. It is not the final word and it should initiate questions and further research that it will ultimately contain and build upon further..
There are 102 established species (different kinds) of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas. That total includes 22 frogs ('toads' are frogs), 8 salamanders, 15 lizards (including 3 reproducing introduced exotics), 42 snakes (including one introduced venomous species), and 14 turtles. Only five species occur statewide: American Bullfrog, Gophersnake, North American Racer, Ornate Box Turtle, and Snapping Turtle. The rest have range patterns limited by interactions with environmental variables (e.g. temperature, precipitation, geology, other taxa, etc.) that are difficult to tease apart. In general, the herpetofaunal biodiversity increases to the south and east (there are 79 species known from Cherokee County (southeast), while only 32 species are confirmed from Cheyenne County (northwest).
The KHA synthesizes the work of thousands of individuals that collected and recorded the 90,000+ specimens occurrences and 3,000+ references presented herein. Our current level of understanding with respect to the Kansas herpetofauna is a result of their efforts. Nothing meaningful is achieved alone. And while the distribution and natural history of the Kansas herpetofauna are probably better understood than any comparably sized region on Earth. There is still much to learn, and those of you wishing to contribute to the KHA may do so by donating specimens or reporting observations directly.
I hope you find the KHA useful... comments and suggestions are always welcome.
|Travis W. Taggart
Sternberg Museum of Natural History
Fort Hays State University