Ontario Herpetofaunal Summary Atlas
About the Ontario Herpetofaunal Summary Atlas
The Ontario Herpetofaunal Atlas (or Summary) (OHS) project began in 1984 as an attempt to consolidate existing information and gather new data on Ontario's amphibians and reptiles. The primary purpose of the OHS project was to produce detailed distribution maps of the province's amphibians and reptiles. Starting in 1984 volunteers recorded amphibian and reptile observations on printed cards which were returned to the compilers at the end of each field season. These records were then entered into a computer database (using Dbase initially, then Foxpro). Data collection has continued in this manner to the present.
In order to complement records gathered by volunteers, an effort was made to compile historic distribution data on Ontario's amphibians and reptiles. Specimen records from museum and university collections in Ontario (e.g. ROM, NMC, University of Guelph) and elsewhere (e.g. University of Michigan) were entered into the OHS database. In addition, records were extracted from published (e.g. journal articles) and unpublished (e.g. theses, park and natural area inventory reports) literature. OHS volunteers were also asked to submit pre-1984 records as well as current sightings.
All records in the OHS database have a UTM (Universal Trans Mercator) grid reference (NAD 27) associated with them, except for a very few old records with extremely vague locality information (e.g. "north shore of Lake Ontario" or "Georgian Bay"). UTM grid references are accurate either to a 10 X 10 km atlas square or to a specific location (accurate to 100 m), with a few records accurate to 1 km. Maps appearing on this web page were generated using ArcINFO from the OHS database. Records are mapped using three symbols: red square = records documented by a specimen, photograph, or taped vocalization; blue circle = sight or auditory records gathered since the OHS project began in 1984; green triangle = pre-1984 sight or auditory records assembled during the OHS project. Efforts have been made to verify the accuracy of as many records as possible (e.g. by requesting additional details from the observer), but it should be kept in mind that many of the records are sight records contributed by casual naturalists, and a few may be in error. Records which we were unable to verify and were possibly in error (e.g. beyond known range limits) were omitted from the maps but retained in the database for possible future verification.
Limited access to records in the Ontario Herpetofaunal Summary database is available for conservation, education, or research purposes by contacting Mike Oldham at the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Note that precise locality information on some rare species will only be released under special circumstances and that a fee may be charged for complicated or time-consuming database searches.
The Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC) welcomes additional records of Ontario amphibians and reptiles for incorporation into the OHS database. Particularly useful are records of rare species and records from poorly covered areas, but any records (current or historic) of Ontario amphibians and reptiles will be accepted. Records received in digital form (database or spreadsheet) are much easier to incorporate than those received in paper form. Submitted records should include as much of the following information as possible:Records can be mailed, faxed, or emailed to the NHIC. Future plans for this web page include the ability to electronically enter and submit records, distribution maps linked live to the OHS database so that they will be updated as soon as new records are added, photographs of Ontario species, ability to search the OHS database on the web, and other enhancements.