As stewards of one of the largest reptile and amphibian collections in the world, our scientists strive to understand which species live where, how they're related, and how to protect them.

The Academy's herpetology collection began in 1853 with a single Galápagos tortoise shell. It has since grown to be the 6th largest reptile and amphibian collection in the world and serves as an important repository of information for Academy scientists and others seeking to better understand these fascinating and important creatures.

In addition to documenting species and their distribution around the world, our scientists and collaborators are at the forefront of many other aspects of herpetological research and conservation: examining the evolutionary relationships of various taxonomic groups, assessing and working to protect against population threats, and developing captive breeding programs and strategies to help maintain genetic stocks of critically endangered species.

New! Download Dr. Rayna Bell's ebook Vision in Frogs and Toads is now available as a free download to your Apple device.

3 Academy herpetologists pose playfully with specimens


With more than 315,000 cataloged specimens from 175 countries, our collection of amphibians and reptiles is one of the largest in the world.

Check out our new Google Scholar profile for a list of publications that have used our specimens.

A big-eyed tree frog of the genus Leptopelis, from Cameroon.


In collaboration with researchers and staff from around the Academy and beyond, our scientists are working to better understand the anatomy and evolution of reptiles and amphibians, the biodiversity of remote islands, and the reproductive biology of critically endangered frogs.

2013 expedition to southern Cameroon


From the islands of São Tomė and Príncipe to Myanmar and the Dulongjiang forests of northwest Yunnan in China, Academy scientists travel around the world to document the unique amphibians and reptiles that call these biodiversity hotspots home.

Black-and-white photo of group of Galápagos iguanas


Our research staff study the evolution and distribution of reptiles and amphibians and are actively involved in conservation efforts to protect endangered species and habitats.

Academy Reopening

While the Academy has reopened the public floor, the research collections, labs and offices remain closed to visitors until further notice. Please check back here for updates. For additional inquiries, contact the collections manager at the email listed below.

Collections Contact

Lauren Scheinberg
California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Drive
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94118
415.379.5292 (lab)
415.379.5823 (direct)