WFC 50 – Natural History of California Wild Vertebrates

by Ruth Gustafson, Erik Davis Fausak – May 20, 2022

This guide lists resources in wildlife biology which are useful for locating literature across a range of topics including:  behavior, biogeography/habitat, breeding/reproduction, conservation, ecology, evolution, genetics, morphology, and systematics and taxonomy.  To access licensed library resources from off-campus, please use the library VPN.  Your librarian instructors are happy to help if you have questions or need additional assistance.

January 2022 changes:  Shields Library is now open reduced hours (closing at 8pm weekdays through Friday January 28th).  All required health and safety protocols from the campus must be followed including wearing face masks to access campus buildings. The 24-hour study room at Shields is back open as of January 10, 2022.  For the most up-to-date library COVID protocols, see UCD Library COVID information at:

NOTE: Shields will be back to normal hours and Carlson will be back open on Monday, January 31st.

Carlson Health Sciences Library (wildlife health/vet med collections) is closed through January 30th but delivery of materials will be provided.

Check the UCD Libraries hours for latest updates on each library’s hours (including weekend hours):


Ruth Gustafson

Student Services
Student Services and Researcher Services Librarian


In this Guide:

Avoiding plagiarism videos

Every quarter, the UCD Library offers 1-2 classes on Giving Credit Where Credit is Due (Avoiding Plagiarism).  Feel free to sign up for a session from this Giving Credit class webpage.

The UCD Library maintains a webpage on Citation Guides, which focuses mainly on EndNote.  Another useful webpage provides Citation Manager Comparison .

Citation Managers

Citations (or sometimes called references) are essential to creating bibliographies, or footnotes, or in-text references.  The University of Missouri Libraries provide a helpful webpage on the Anatomy of a Citation .

There are many types of software preograms to organize and automatically format your bibliographies. Here are guides to four popular free (or free to UCD affiliates) citation management products: Sciwheel (UCD), EndNote Online (UCD), Zotero and Mendeley.

Searching in a library catalog requires looking for broader topics such as California* wildlife* conservation OR California bird* rather than the more specific California* salamander* habitat* conservation OR California* condor* mate selection.

Useful subject headings (sometimes from two subject vocabularies, see information in bullets below on Library of Congress or National Library of Medicine Classification systems) for searches in this area include:  Amphibians — California |  Birds — California |  Fish — California | Mammals — California | Reptiles — California

  • UC Library Search: UCD Library Catalog setting
    Replacing UCD Library Catalog on July 27, 2021, the new UC Library Search includes all of the UC library collections.   This setting is specifically for the UC Davis libraries including (for the first time) the holdings of the Law Library. If you Sign in (on top right corner) using your UCD login and Kerberos passphrase, you are prompted with your loan period, can renew books online, and request items that have been checked out to another borrower, or are in storage.

UC Library Search: User Guide

Author: Library Instruction Services, Shields Library

Library of Congress Classification is used for all of the UCD libraries except the health sciences libraries (which use NLM — National Library of Medicine — classification.  See link below). Learn about how books are arranged in the UCD libraries with this guide.

Date: 2004

Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia [via Gale Virtual Reference Library]

Extensive, completely revised and updated 17-volume version of the original work published in Germany in 1960. Incorporates recent developments in the animal world as noted by prominent advisors and contributors from the scientific community. Volume 1 covers Lower metazoans and lesser deuterostomes and volume 2 is on Protostomes. Volume 3 is about Insects. Volumes 4-5 are both concerning Fishes. Volume 6 pertains to Amphibians and volume 7 is about Reptiles. Volumes 8-11 are all concerning Birds. Volumes 12-16 are on Mammals and lastly, volume 17 is the cumulative index.

Ecosystems of California

NOTE: Many chapter authors are from UC Davis and other UC campuses.

From University of California Press publisher’s description:

“reference and sourcebook for California’s remarkable ecological abundance [which] provides an integrated assessment of each major ecosystem type its distribution, structure, function, and management.  A comprehensive synthesis of our knowledge about this biologically diverse state, “Ecosystems of California” covers the state’s oceans to mountaintops using multiple lenses: past and present, flora and fauna, aquatic and terrestrial, natural and managed.  Each chapter evaluates natural processes for a specific ecosystem, describes drivers of change, and discusses how that ecosystem may be altered in the future.  This book also explores the drivers of California’s ecological patterns and the history of the state s various ecosystems, outlining how the challenges of climate change and invasive species and opportunities for regulation and stewardship could potentially affect the state s ecosystems. The text explicitly incorporates both human impacts and conservation and restoration efforts and shows how ecosystems support human well-being. Edited by two esteemed ecosystem ecologists and with overviews by leading experts on each ecosystem, this definitive work will be indispensable for natural resource management and conservation professionals as well as for undergraduate or graduate students of California’s environment and curious naturalists.”

Publication date: 2016

California’s Wildlife (from California Natural Diversity Database)

From California Fish & Wildlife agency description:

”These life history accounts and range maps represent updated versions of the species information in the three-volume set “California’s Wildlife” edited by Zeiner, D.C. et al 1988-1990. There are also accounts for 48 more species here than in the original publication, bringing the total up to 694.

The information was prepared under contract with the best available experts for various taxonomic groups. Authors and reviewers names appear on the individual life history accounts. Accounts were initially edited by Marshall White and, in later years, by California Wildlife Habitat Relationships (CWHR) Program staff with the California Department of Fish and Game. Update dates are noted on individual life history accounts. Revision histories are also noted on individual range maps.

The life history accounts and range maps are designed to support the computerized species-habitat relationships database models in the CWHR System. The system is continually being revised.”

Peer Review

A process through which manuscripts submitted to a journal are evaluated for quality — by one or more subject experts in addition to the editor — before being accepted for publication.

ProQuest article databases (such as ASFA) OR EBSCOhost article databases (such as Wildlife & Ecology Studies Worldwide) include a checkbox to limit to “Peer Reviewed” articles. For journals retrieved from other databases, use the online Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory to search by journal title and then look for the black and white striped  symbol  Refereed (referee shirt) indicating the publication is refereed or peer-reviewed.

  • Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory  Icon

    The standard source for information on virtually every active and ceased periodical, annual, irregular publication, and monographic series published throughout the world (plus thousands of newspapers). Indicates whether a publication is a refereed (peer-reviewed) title.

    NOTE: search by journal title, NOT article title. Ulrich’s provides information on the entire publication (journal, magazine, newspaper, annual review) NOT on the work within.

NOTE:  search the above general databases BIOSIS Previews or Zoological Record for locating amphibian/reptile journal literature.   BIOSIS Previews will have comprehensive literature for well studied species including those which may be model organisms for laboratory studies.   Zoological Record is useful for animals mainly researched in the wild via field studies and also organisms that are rare or highly endangered.


From About section: “AmphibiaWeb aims to establish a knowledge-base for all amphibians in the world, which includes:

  • Creating a web page for every species of amphibian to provide information on their conservation status, phylogeny, taxonomy, species biology, natural history, and distribution.
  • Providing reliable content for broad audiences on relevant topics to better understand the global amphibian crisis.
  • Offering unique data aggregations and visualizations on amphibian data.
  • Engaging students wherever possible such as outreach, writing, researching, and analysis
  • Coordinating and engaging a diverse panel of amphibian experts
  • Mobilizing the broader community of like-minded organizations and the interested public to contribute to the public knowledge about amphibians and conservation actions
  • Serving curated, authoritative content for the scientific community, policy makers, government agencies, students, and the public.”
Lizards of the World: A Guide to every Family

From publisher’s description: “From chameleons and skinks to geckos and iguanas, Lizards of the World brings these creatures firmly into the light, to reveal their extraordinary diversity.  With close to 6,500 species around the world, lizards can be found in almost every type of terrain and their physical features vary tremendously.  In this book, more than 350 stunning color photographs illustrate species found in more than 80 lizard families and subfamilies.  Each detailed profile includes a population distribution map, table of essential information, and fascinating commentary revealing notable characteristics and related species.”

Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species

From Publisher’s description:  “Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species-the first catalogue of its kind-covers all living and fossil snakes described between 1758 and 2012, comprising 3,509 living and 274 extinct species allocated to 539 living and 112 extinct genera.”

North American Amphibians: Distribution and Diversity

From University of California Press publisher’s description:

”Some 300 species of amphibians inhabit North America. The past two decades have seen an enormous growth in interest about amphibians and an increased intensity of scientific research into their fascinating biology and continent-wide distribution.

This atlas presents the spectacular diversity of North American amphibians in a geographic context. It covers all formally recognized amphibian species found in the United States and Canada, many of which are endangered or threatened with extinction. Illustrated with maps and photos, the species accounts provide current information about distribution, habitat, and conservation.”

NOTE:  search the above general databases BIOSIS Previews or Zoological Record for locating bird journal literature.   BIOSIS Previews will have comprehensive literature for well studied species including those which may be model organisms for laboratory studies.   Zoological Record is useful for animals mainly researched in the wild via field studies and also organisms that are rare or highly endangered.  If you are interested in water birds or coastal birds, consider also searching the ASFA (Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts) database.

Birds of the World (formerly Birds of North America)

New in 2020: Birds of North America (BNA) has expanded to Birds of the World. Merging two of the Cornell Lab’s flagship publications (Birds of North America and Neotropical Birds) with content from the renowned Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW Alive) & Bird Families of the World, originally published by Lynx Edicions. Birds of the World will be supported with real-time data from and multimedia from the renowned Macauley Library. Each monograph (Bird description) may includes sections on distinguishing characteristics, distribution (with accompanying map), systematics, migration, habitat, food habits, sounds, behavior, breeding, demography & populations, conservation & management, appearance, measurements & priorities for future research.

Coverage: 2003-

Consult the following UCD Library subject guide for locating fish resources

Fisheries and Aquaculture

FishBase: A Global Information System on Fishes

Relational database on fish from around the world including information on: taxonomy, synonym tables, average sizes and weights, environment, climate, importance, resilience, distribution, diagnosis, biology, Red list status, life history, reproduction, ecology, genetics, illustrations, photographs and much more. Developed at the WorldFish Center in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and many other partners, and with support from the European Commission (EC).

California Fish Website

Portal to UC researchers, centers and research groups including: Center for Aquatic Biology & Aquaculture; California Fish Photo Library; and California Freshwater Fish Laboratory.  Includes fish species profiles, publications, research projects, conversions & glossary, fish people, and more.

NOTE:  search the above general databases BIOSIS Previews or Zoological Record for locating amphibian/reptile journal literature.   BIOSIS Previews will have comprehensive literature for well studied species including those which may be model organisms for laboratory studies.   Zoological Record is useful for animals mainly researched in the wild via field studies and also organisms that are rare or highly endangered. If you are interested in freshwater or marine mammals, consider also searching the ASFA (Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts) database.

Walker’s Mammals of the World

The preeminent guide to the world’s mammals is now enhanced with a dramatically expanded volume covering 19 orders, including such creatures as elephants, armadillos, and manatees.Since its first publication in 1964, Walker’s Mammals of the World has become a favorite guide to the natural world for general readers and professionals alike. This new Walker’s volume is a completely revised and updated compendium of information on five of the earliest clades to diverge from ancient mammal stock. Uniquely comprehensive in inimitable Walker’s style, it incorporates a full account of every genus that has lived in the past 5,000 years. Every named species of each genus is listed in systematic order and accompanied by detailed descriptions of past and present range. This new edition includes• 500+ full-color images throughout• citations to more than 2,200 new references• extensive bioconservation data, with discussion of every species in an IUCN Red List threatened categoryThis volume’s thorough updates reflect 20 years of advances in our knowledge of taxonomy, ecology, behavior, life history, and conservation. Substantive changes to 100% of previously existing generic accounts, plus the addition of 17 entirely new generic accounts, double the information in the last edition on the 19 orders covered. The black-and-white illustrations of earlier editions have been replaced by over 500 superb new color images. Remaining true to Ernest P. Walker’s vision, the text smoothly combines in-depth scholarship with a popular, readable style to preserve and enhance what the Washington Post called a “landmark of zoological literature.

Mammals of North America

From Publisher’s description:  “Covering 20 species recognized since 2002 and including 13 new color plates, this fully revised edition of Mammals of North America illustrates all 462 known mammal species in the United States and Canada … With … easier-to-read distribution maps, updated common and scientific names, and track and scat illustrations … ”

Author: International Union for Conservation of Nature
IUCN was founded in 1948 as the world’s first global environmental organization and today is the largest professional global conservation network. Over four decades ago, the Red List started as the IUCN Red Data Book and is currently compiled through the IUCN Species Programme working with the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC).“IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ provides taxonomic, conservation status and distribution information on plants and animals that have been globally evaluated using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. This system is designed to determine the relative risk of extinction, and the main purpose of the IUCN Red List is to catalogue and highlight those plants and animals that are facing a higher risk of global extinction (i.e. those listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable).”In addition, the “IUCN Red List also includes information on plants and animals that are categorized as Extinct or Extinct in the Wild; on taxa that cannot be evaluated because of insufficient information (i.e., are Data Deficient); and on plants and animals that are either close to meeting the threatened thresholds or that would be threatened were it not for an ongoing taxon-specific conservation programme (i.e., are Near Threatened).”


Species under CITES Protection 
Author: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.Roughly 5,000 species of animals and 28,000 species of plants are protected by CITES against over-exploitation through international trade. They are listed in the three CITES Appendices. The species are grouped in the Appendices according to how threatened they are by international trade. They include some whole groups, such as primates, cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), sea turtles, parrots, corals, cacti and orchids. But in some cases only a subspecies or geographically separate population of a species (for example the population of just one country) is listed.