The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has a long and distinguished history of employing herpetologists to conduct basic and applied research to better manage amphibian and reptile populations on public lands and even outside the boundaries of the United States. This history extends back over 125 years with roots in the U.S. Biological Survey, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service and later, the National Biological Service. In more recent times, the DOI employed more professional herpetologists than any single organization in the world, especially in the U.S. Geological Survey. In 1938, Henry Fitch was the first Interior scientist hired who conducted substantial herpetological research. William and Lucille Stickel of the Fish and Wildlife Service conducted herpetological research throughout the period from the 1940s-1980s but most DOI herpetologists were hired from 1975-80 with another hiring spike from 2000-2005. The former spike was congruent with early versions of the Endangered Species Act while the latter reflected growing recognition of global amphibian decline and the creation of the Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative in DOI. Collectively, these herpetologists produced hundreds of books, scientific publications and other scholarly publications, many of which are classics in the literature. In addition, many have served as officers and on the boards of numerous scientific societies particularly those specializing in amphibian and reptile research. The DOI shows a continuing commitment to funding herpetological research by hiring young scientists to replace the aging ranks of herpetologists who started their careers in the 1970s. This commitment is critical given the global decline of both amphibians and reptiles, including those found on public lands in the United States.
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A history of herpetologists and herpetology in the U.S. Department of the Interior