The reptile and amphibian fauna found at Quail Ridge Reserve
is a relatively rich subset of the California herpetofauna. Of
the 141 species that occur in this state72,
20 have been documented at Quail Ridge and at least another four
likely are found there. The richest group at Quail Ridge is the
snakes, with 10 recorded and four probable species (of a total
of 33 species in California), whereas the most poorly represented
is the turtles, with only the western pond turtle found here (although
only three species are found state-wide). Falling between these
extremes are the salamanders (three recorded and one probable),
the frogs and toads (two recorded), and the lizards (four recorded
and two probable). See the full reptile
and amphibian list.
Quail Ridge lies at the boundary between two major biogeographic
regions, the Pacific Border and Sierra Madrean65.
The Pacific Border herpetofauna is centered along the Pacific
Coast from the Coast Range of California to southeast Alaska.
The climate of this region is mild and very moist, and reaches
its southeastern extreme at about the latitude of Quail Ridge.
A major component of this faunal group is the amphibians, primarily
salamanders. All of the salamanders of Quail Ridge are members
of this group.
contrast to the Pacific Border region, the Sierra Madrean region
has its origin in the warm and dry region of central Mexico. The
range of this fauna includes Mexico, parts of Arizona, southern
California, and California’s Central Valley65.
Thus, Quail Ridge is found at the northwestern edge of this region.
The Sierra Madrean group is dominated by a variety of species
of lizards and snakes.
An interesting statewide pattern in the herpetofauna of California
is the ring around the Central Valley. Following the prevailing
climate and vegetation patterns, many species are found in narrow
bands that circle the Valley. Pacific Border species are restricted
to cooler and moister climates than are found in the Central Valley
and thus have expanded from the north along both the Coast Ranges
and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. A particularly well-studied
example of this is the ensatina, Ensatina eschscholtzii, a species
of lungless salamander69.
While some Sierra Madrean species were able to move over the
Tehachapi Mountains into the San Joaquin Valley, other species
require a more mountainous environment. Some of these entered
the lower elevation hills surrounding the Central Valley, either
from the south around the Coast Range and Sierra Nevada, or from
the northeast, moving south down these mountain ranges61.
One example of this pattern is the southern alligator lizard (Elgaria
Thus, the ring distribution that characterizes a number of species
in California was achieved via radically different routes by different
one species in the Quail Ridge herpetofauna is endemic to California.
The California newt (Taricha torosa) occurs throughout
the Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada but fails to reach into any
The herpetofauna of the Quail Ridge Reserve represents a largely
untapped wealth of research opportunities for studies in evolution,
ecology, and behavior. There are many common species easily found
and observed over a broad range of habitats.