Frequently Asked Questions - Main Page


For FAQs related to data entry, please see: FAQs - Data Entry

Q. I want to know more about HerpMapper. Where is there more information?

A. Information on the HerpMapper project, including history and organizational structure, can be found on our About Us or HerpMapper Wikipedia page. Also feel free to send inquires to: [email protected]

Q: Who gets to see HerpMapper data?

A: The public only has access to view data down to the county level; no specific locality information can be viewed by the public. The data contributor and approved conservation or research partners have access to detailed locality information. Partners do not need to endorse or adopt HerpMapper to get access.

Q: I want to ask a user a question, how do I contact them?

A: If you need to contact a user, please send [email protected] the name of the user and your question. HerpMapper will pass this information along to the user directly.

Q: Why do you not share the point-location information with the public like some of the other citizen scientist projects?

A: Great question! Unlike many other groups of animals (e.g., birds), amphibians and reptiles are easy to catch and some are highly sought-after in the pet trade. The reality of the issue is that there are people in this world that know to look for common species data gathered by known herpers in a single area to exploit the resource. It doesn't take a 'rocket scientist' to figure out that the herper is likely visiting a site over multiple years for purposes other than documenting common species. Because HerpMapper's primary goal is to collect and disseminate data to help conserve herpetofauna, we have chosen to restrict the public’s view to county-level for all species. This sets us apart from many other citizen-science projects.

Note: In some areas where counties may be very small and/or highly urbanized, the public may only have access to data at larger spatial scales (e.g., provinces).

Q: Why does HerpMapper remove photo metadata?

A. Many digital cameras (including mobile phones) now have the ability to record latitude and longitude in a photo's metadata. HerpMapper does extract this information to help users more easily create records, but then data are removed to prevent public access to point-location information.

Q: Do approved conservation or research partners need to track down individual participants to get full access to HerpMapper data?

A. There is no need to track down users about data usage or copyright. HerpMapper retains the right to release data itself.

Q. Do approved conservation or research partners ask permission before publishing data submitted to HerpMapper?

A. HerpMapper does request that Partners wishing to publish specific observations as geographic distribution notes contact HerpMapper directly to make sure the original observer (or other Partners) are not also planning to do so. HerpMapper makes every attempt to contact users before approving such requests. HerpMapper may not contact individual users if data are used in aggregate in larger-scale analyses.

Please be sure to keep your e-mail address current so that we may contact you if/when needed.

Q: Do conservation and research partners have to pay to access data?

A. HerpMapper data are made available for free.

Q: Why does HerpMapper require a voucher?

A: In order to provide the highest quality data to conservation and research partners as possible, vouchers are required to allow for the confirmation of species' identity.

Q: Can I record and submit audio of a frog or toad calling on my phone or tablet?

A: Yes, the HerpMapper app has an integrated audio recording system.

Q: Should dead amphibians or reptiles be recorded?

A: Yes! Even though an amphibian or reptile may be dead, its presence in an area or timing of observation may be valuable to conservation and research scientists. WARNING: We do not encourage users to put themselves in harms way to document amphibians and reptiles found on public roadways. DO NOT put yourself in harm's way for any reason.

Q: I have observation data for a sensitive species, but I am not sure I should create a record for it. What if someone figures out the location? Should I alter the point location data to protect the actual location?

A: HerpMapper is designed to protect locality data. Public view of records is restricted to the county level, and for some areas where counties may be very small and/or highly urbanized, access is restricted to larger spatial areas. You can also choose to check the "Hide this record from the public" checkbox when creating a record. Under no circumstances should you enter records with altered locality data. Such records are useless and in some cases may negatively impact species conservation efforts. If you are uncomfortable about entering a record, then please don't.

Q: If I find multiple individuals of a single species in a specific area, should I create a record for each?

A: Yes, if you have the time and ability to do so. Collecting multiple observations for species in a given area has value, whether within a single day, month, or year, or between many years.

Q: Should I catch a state or federally listed amphibian or reptile to get a voucher photo?

A: Capturing state or federally-listed wildlife requires a permit, it is important to know your local laws. If at all possible, try to get a voucher without disturbing the individual animal. If you are unable to get a voucher, it is still a good idea to report the observation to your state or federal wildlife agency.

Q: Can I enter historical observations, or observations from the recent past?

A: Yes, as long as you know the location and date of the observation. In order to report past observations, you will need to login to the HerpMapper website and enter data using the website-interface for entering data.

Q: On my profile page, under Observation Metrics, is something called 'Diversity Index'. What is that?

A: The Diversity Index is simply the number of species you have recorded, divided by your total number of records.

Q: When I click on my name in the upper right-hand corner I see a Shared Records tab, what is this?

A: This is one of the ways HerpMapper shares data with conservation and research organizations. A representative from an organization can create an account on and be granted access to data for a particular geographic area. These data are displayed under their Shared Records tab. For a current list of organizations with access to a subset of HerpMapper data, see our HerpMapper Partners page.