Herpetofauna of the Adirondacks

The Kelly Adirondack Center and UCALL present:


Alvin Breisch
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Fish and Wildlife (retired)


Illustration by wildlife artist, Matt Patterson


April 11, 2019

in Reamer Auditorium

on the Union College Campus

lecture at 5:30 p.m.

refreshments from 5:00 p.m.


This event is free and open to the public.


Forty species of amphibians and reptiles, collectively known as herpetofauna or herps, have been reported from the Adirondacks since the explorations by naturalist in the early 1800s. For those who want to experience herps in the wild, it is important to know when, where, and how to search for them. Drawing on results from the NYS Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project, Breisch will present information on the distribution and life-history of these often colorful creatures. Breisch’s tour of our northern herp species will also combine historical notes with information about threats to their populations. Of particular interest is the Mink Frog whose range in New York is limited to the north country — a true Adirondack species. Two other species are listed as threatened in New York, the Timber Rattlesnake and the Blanding’s Turtle, and four species are listed as Special Concern. The Bog Turtle is listed as endangered but sadly is the only herp species that has disappeared from the Adirondacks. The presentation will be highlighted with illustrations by wildlife artist, Matt Patterson.

Alvin Breisch was the Amphibian and Reptile Specialist for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation before retiring in 2009 after 29 years.  He has served as co-chair of both the national steering committee for Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) and Northeast PARC.  He was the director of the New York Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project and is coauthor of “The Amphibians and Reptiles of New York State: Identification, Life History and Conservation” and “Habitat Management Guidelines for Amphibians and Reptiles of the Northeastern United States.”  His latest book, “The Snake and the Salamander: Amphibians and Reptiles from Maine to Virginia” recently received the National Outdoor Book Award in the nature and environment category.

Alvin was drawn to the Adirondacks in the early 1960s to assist in describing rock climbing routes for Trudy Healy’s climbing guide. His first job in the Adirondacks was as a hut boy at Johns Brook Lodge.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in botany from Penn State and a master’s degree in ecology form the University at Albany where he wrote his thesis on the vegetation of Whiteface Mountain. He spends as much time as he can at his camp in northern Warren County.