wood frogs

Spring breeding events are one of the biggest amphibian gatherings in the world, thousands of amphibians partying all night and bringing in a new generation of herps. ARC supports parties.

© John White

Impactful conservation is equal parts broad strategy and targeted implementation—it’s a coordinated effort so we can reverse the trend on species declines and extinctions before it’s too late. The connection between national strategy and local implementation is critical, yet coordination is exceedingly rare in the world of environmental conservation.
At ARC, we translate our global priorities into action at a local level. By focusing on Priority Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Areas (PARCAs), we can align ourselves with a larger strategy and ensure that none of our on-the-ground conservation is done in vain.

You can't spell PARCA
without ARC

© Mike Martin
PARCAs or Priority Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Areas are the most important areas to amphibian and reptile conservation in the United States. ARC is dedicated to this place-based approach, which maximizes our conservation impact for not only amphibians and reptiles, but also other biodiversity and ecosystem functions. By focusing on PARCAs, we can create concrete plans in alignment with other conservation efforts and begin rebuilding ecosystems one species at a time.

We focus on three main aspects of on-the-ground species conservation:
    1. Population discovery, inventory and monitoring.
      It’s hard to believe that in our era of digital maps, there’s very little knowledge of exactly where to find even the most common species. Our work often begins with identifying exactly where a rare species is on the landscape and how many individuals and populations there are in an area.

    2. Research and investigation.
      Why is a species rare? Why is it declining? These are fundamental questions that must be answered before we can make an impact. ARC’s scientific expertise plays an important role in evaluating what’s going wrong.

    3. Active conservation.
      Once we identify our challenges and what needs to be done, we roll up our sleeves to begin restoring habitats, ecosystems, and populations through a number of impactful actions.

PARCAs in Action

The Francis Marion crew hard at work sampling Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes.

© Mike Gibbons

Francis Marion

The amphibians and reptiles found in the Francis Marion National Forest are rock stars in the herp world. In addition to gopher frogs, spotted turtles, pinesnakes, and flatwoods salamanders, the region is also home to the eastern diamondback rattlesnake — North America’s longest and heaviest venomous snake — and the southern hognose snake, famous for dramatically feigning death when feeling threatened. Located in the heart of the South Carolina Lowcountry, this is our longest running field project and contains, or once contained, some of the most iconic and imperiled species and habitats of the southeastern United States.

ARC's Executive director JJ Apodaca never shies away from leaving the office for a Green Salamander survey.

© JJ Apodaca

The Southern Appalachians

What do you get when you combine ancient mountains and one of the most biodiverse regions in the world? Along with the “salamander capital of the world,” you get some of the most important PARCAs in the nation. Our Southern Appalachians program focuses on several PARCAs in this region that contain some of the most charismatic and endangered amphibians and reptiles in the country, ranging from the mythic hellbender to the adorable bog turtle and every herp in between.

Surveying the wetlands of the Gila PARCA in search for one of the numerous species that make this area a global herpetological hotspot


The Gila is an expansive and critically important PARCA in western New Mexico that encompasses several mountain ranges that provide water to the Rio Grande. ARC is working to address the growing threat of wildfire, invasive species, and loss of wetland habitats. If you’ve ever been in the desert without water for even a few hours, you’ll surely understand the importance of wetlands in the high desert. ARC is helping to create and restore wetlands across the landscape to support several critically imperiled species so that nobody is ever denied a summer’s night without a chorus of the endangered Chiricahua Leopard frogs — a disappearing song intrinsically tied to this majestic landscape for thousands of years.  

PARCAs Nationwide

Do PARCAs pique your interest? Use the interactive map to take a closer look at the current PARCAs across the country. We’ve highlighted our top 25 areas of focus right now, where we have on-the-ground initiatives that maximize our conservation impact. And at ARC, we know the work is never done. We are continuing to identify PARCAs in more states to develop new field programs nationwide. By conserving these vitally important regions of the world, we can recover and restore habitats for imperiled reptiles and amphibians, from the Chiricahua leopard frogs to alligator snapping turtles. To learn more about our PARCA database or to apply for data access, please email

Click on a highlighted area to learn more.

Amphibian and Reptile
Conservation is
Planet Protection


Why do amphibians and reptiles matter?

Spotted Salamander

If a spotted salamander smiling at you isn't reason enough to protect herps... well then this might just not be the place for you.

© Valorie Titus

Herps for a healthy ecosystem

​​Earth’s ecosystems are held together by an infinitely complex series of relationships and interactions between plants, animals, and terrain. Within these systems, amphibians and reptiles play a disproportionately important role in maintaining balance. They are vital to the health of our planet and the loss of even one species can have a wide-reaching impact on everything from biodiversity and ecosystems to our health, culture and even economic stability.

For example, in Western North Carolina, salamanders represent the largest single species of biomass in the forest. They serve to contain insect populations and keep a myriad of other creatures in check. They also serve as a food source to larger species. If salamanders were to disappear, the entire food chain could collapse.

Our approach at ARC is to rebuild ecosystem function, one relationship and interaction at a time. By working to ensure that the foundation of our ecosystems are healthy, we are shaping a world where herps can thrive alongside humanity.