A Definitive Scholarly Treatise
Snakes of Arizona
EDITED BY A. T. HOLYCROSS & J. C. MITCHELL
Arizona’s herpetological biodiversity is unrivaled within the United States when one contemplates biodiversity from a community perspective as opposed to mere species richness. A variety of biomes with centers of distribution elsewhere, enter the state and cross a diverse topography creating a patchwork of interconnected and overlapping biotic communities. Despite the dizzying number of species, and the unique ecological contexts within which they can be found in Arizona, comprehensive treatments of this fauna are surprisingly few. In 1965, Jack Fowlie attempted such a treatment in his “Snakes of Arizona.” However, much of the information therein was speculative and the volume contained many unsupported statements of fact and factual errors. More recently, Brennan and Holycross produced, “A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona” which presented important new information on distribution and identification of our entire herpetofauna, but such an approach allows only a superficial review of the biology of these organisms. Furthermore, although only 6 years old, this volume is out-dated with regard to taxonomy and new distributional information. A variety of other publications have attempted treatments of the herpetofauna of various smaller regions within Arizona, but none have taken the approach of tackling a significant portion of the herpetofauna with a state-wide geographic scope.
Enter Snakes of Arizona. Here we propose a comprehensive and definitive reference volume for Arizona’s ophidia, created by the community that knows these organisms best. Our vision and approach are orthodox. The heart of the volume will be species accounts with traditional subsections dealing with various aspects of the biology of each species. With a limited taxonomic scope, we hope we can be more inclusive in the depth of information provided for each species. Authors are encouraged to not only comprehensively review the scientific literature, but to include unpublished factual information and data. Another core value of this publication are the dot distribution maps for each species that are based on verified voucher material deposited in over 70 institutional collections (information heretofore unavailable in comprehensive form for most of Arizona’s snakes). This intellectual and factual backbone will be embedded in an aesthetically pleasing format, rich with superb color photographs solicited from the community and where needed, figures.
The success of this approach depends entirely on a vested and engaged community. Open, dynamic peer review requires that all contributors take an active interest in the overall product, and not just our own writing. In addition to open solicitation for comment from our community, we ask authors to specifically request comprehensive reviews from at least 2 other members of the community prior to submitting their account for editorial review.
The role of the editors in this process is to ensure that format, style, and approach is consistent throughout the volume. We look to the entire community to ensure comprehensive excellence in the species accounts. We are confident that we have selected the most qualified and diligent authors for this treatise, and that together we will achieve a beautiful, scholarly contribution to Arizona’s herpetology.