MCC Life Sciences professor co-authors book on Arizona amphibians and reptiles

The cover of A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona, second edition, by Andrew Holycross, Thomas Brennan, and Randall BabbA Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona MESA, Arizona – April 11, 2022 – Mesa Community College Life Science professor Dr. Andrew Holycross co-authors the second edition of A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona with two other long-time researchers Thomas Brennan and Randall Babb. The book is published by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Originally released in 2006, this second edition incorporates 1) new accounts for recently introduced non-native species, 2) numerous updates to scientific names, 3) new images (photographs, graphics and art), and 4) updated species distribution maps. The species accounts have also all been updated to reflect the latest understanding of the natural and life history of these fascinating animals. Early online reviews are filled with praise for the 2nd edition. Dr. David Hillis, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said “this field guide sets a new standard for what field guides should be.” Emily Taylor, a professor at California Polytechnic State University states that the “second edition is a must-have for residents and visitors.”

A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona is a tool for wildlife enthusiasts and others who wish to identify and learn about the reptiles and amphibians of Arizona. With its varied terrain, Arizona is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the United States. The guide features full-color photography, illustrations, natural history and detailed accounts that enable the reader to identify all 155 species of salamanders, frogs, toads, turtles, lizards and snakes known to be reproducing in Arizona.

Holycross’ students are contributors to the new edition.

“One of my MCC students, who is now applying for doctoral programs, was a partner in the creation of the ARCGis maps that informed many of the maps in this book, and other students assisted with gartersnake surveys that added much to what we know about the species in Arizona,” Holycross said.

A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona will soon be available at both MCC libraries. Find locations and hours at

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Media contact: Dawn Zimmer, 480-461-7892,

Mesa Community College is nationally recognized for university transfer, career and technical programs, civic engagement, service-learning and innovative approaches to education. On average MCC students provide 23,000 hours of community service annually. For more than 50 years, the college has served as a resource for education, workforce development and lifelong learning. Host to more than 25,400 students annually, MCC offers degree and certificate programs at its two campuses and additional locations through a combination of modalities. MCC is transforming how it champions student success through Guided Pathways with Integrated Support Services and a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. MCC is a Hispanic Serving Institution with nearly 50% of its students being the first in their families to attend college. MCC has the largest indigenous student population of all the Maricopa Community Colleges; its American Indian Institute serves students from the 22 federally recognized Arizona tribes as well as out-of-state tribes. The diverse student body includes hundreds of international students from around the world. Award-winning faculty are dedicated to student success, providing the education and training that empowers MCC students to attain their goals. Located in the East Valley of Phoenix, Arizona, on the traditional territories of the O'odham, Piipaash and Yavapai Peoples, MCC is one of 10 colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District. Visit to learn more.

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Publication Date: 
Monday, April 11, 2022