Writing for AmphibiaWeb


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Writing Species Accounts for AmphibiaWeb

For participating Herpetology Class Students:
Browse and claim prioritized species that need an account .

Download the Student Care Package, which has a more detailed version of these guidelines and includes the species account template.

Ready to submit an account? Upload here!

Download AmphibiaWeb's Species Account template to help write accounts (doc).

All others: Please contact us first! We will make sure the account(s) you want to write have not already been written or claimed by someone.

Components of species account:

  1. Conservation status
  2. Description
  3. Distribution and Habitat
  4. Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
  5. Larva
  6. Trends and Threats
  7. Relation to Humans
  9. Possible reasons for amphibian decline
  10. References

Examples of Ideal Species Accounts:
  • Limnonectes larvaepartus
  • Rana catesbeiana
  • Ghatixalus magnus

  • Components of species account:

    Please note that all sections of a species accounts should reference a source, preferably the primary scientific literature (i.e., peer-reviewed publication) or a secondary source, such as a published book. Websites may be used as long as they are from reliable sources. Please ask us if you have any questions.

    1. Conservation status: How imperiled is each species?

    Conservation status is an important part of each species statement. The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) conducts ongoing assessments for amphibians. AmphibiaWeb automatically includes the latest IUCN-defined status, although many species are considered Data Deficient and new species in particular have not been evaluated at all. Read more about the conservation status details and categories.

    CITES status

    Depending on how endangered a species is, and whether its continued survival is threatened by collection for commercial trade, countries may place restrictions on export and/or import of amphibians. These restrictions are covered under an international agreement, known as CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Species protected by CITES are assigned to Appendix I, II, or III, according to the degree of protection they need. Search for species listed by CITES

    here and enter one of the following codes in the CITES dropdown menu.
    CITES status:
    Appendix I: species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
    Appendix II: species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.
    Appendix III: species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.

    National status

    One place to check whether a species has been placed on a national Red List is nationalredlist.org.

    For species in the United States, you can check the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website for information and the Endangered species page

    Regional status

    For special species status which either spans a region of multiple countries or only for a subsection of a country (e.g., a state) then please use the Regional Status section to note the conservation status. Similar to National Status above, check the National Red Lists is nationalredlist.org. Within the United States, search state information on endangered species on state Fish and Game or Fish and Wildlife departments.

    For example, in California, check the California Department of Fish and Wildlife site.

    2. Description

    This section covers the overall description, external structures, coloration, and intraspecific variation of adult amphibian. The description of eggs, egg masses, and calls should be put in the "Life History" section.

    This section also typically includes the species "diagnosis", which compares the species with other closely related species to detail the distinguishing characters that define the species. In other words, how can you tell the species apart from other similar species?

    3. Distribution and Habitat

    Describe the known distribution and habitat of the animal, including the elevational range. Enter all countries and states in which a species exists. Does it occur in protected areas? The more complete you are, the better people will be able to search for locality information later.

    For example, if a species ranges from California, USA, to British Columbia, Canada, you should also include the states of Oregon and Washington in your distribution text.

    4. Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

    In this section include any known reproductive, breeding, courtship, diet and other life history traits, including special behaviours like call descriptions. Note that this section is where descriptions about eggs, egg masses, and parental care is appropriate. Also, timing of larval development is appropriate here, but larval descriptions should go in the "Larva" section below.

    5. Larva

    Describe the larva (tadpole or salamander larva) morphology, coloration, feeding habits and other special behaviors. It is not uncommon for species to have little to no information as well as some species diagnosable based on larval differences. If the species is a direct developer, then there is no larval stage to describe and simply stating "This species has direct development" is appropriate. If there is no available information, you may skip this section.

    Relate any known or suspected trends in abundance, especially if it is an important declines factor for the species. This section is where indepth discussion on a particular threat or conservation management can be placed.

    7. Relation to Humans

    In some cultures, humans associate with certain amphibian species in special ways; for instance, amphibians may be thought of as good or bad omens, or exploited as a food source, or used to help acquire foods (e.g., rubbing dendrobatid skin toxins on darts for hunting). Describe here any uses of the species by people (e.g., pet trade, traditional medicine or food consumption).


    This section may contain a number of topics:

    • Phylogenetic relationships
    • Etymology (derivation of its scientific name)
    • Recent news or new conservation developments
    • Embedded videos that show specific behaviors or of other value

    9. Possible reasons for amphibian decline

    These are check boxes of decline factors that are accessible from a link at the top of the species editing page.

    10. References

    Please include literature references within the body of the species account. AmphibiaWeb author format is last names and year of publication (e.g., Wake and Hanken 2001).

    Hanken, J. and Wake, D. B. (2001). "A seventh species of minute salamander (Thorius: Plethodontidae) from the Sierra de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico." Herpetologica, 57(4), 515-523.
    References are entered into the database and referred to by their reference ID so that the bibligraphic information can be properly displayed on species accounts.

    Get the reference number or create a new reference here.

    Ready to submit?

    Checklist before uploading your species account:

  • Submit your species account as a Word DOC or TXT file (not PDF).
  • Are all sections filled in as completely as possible, especially Description and Diagnosis, Life History, Threats and Trends?
  • Have you included all references? Did you include in-text citations for all paragraphs?
  • Do you have your references handy? If they are PDFs, you may upload them to a dedicated folder to speed up editing of your species account.
  • Is your name and email included? Your name will be printed as submitted on our author credit. Include your email in case we have questions about your submission.
  • For additional help, contact us.