The Ecology and Behavior of Amphibians
by Kentwood D. Wells
University of Chicago Press, 2007
Cloth: 978-0-226-89334-1 | Paper: 978-0-226-89335-8 | Electronic: 978-0-226-89333-4
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226893334.001.0001


Consisting of more than six thousand species, amphibians are more diverse than mammals and are found on every continent save Antarctica. Despite the abundance and diversity of these animals, many aspects of the biology of amphibians remain unstudied or misunderstood. The Ecology and Behavior of Amphibians aims to fill this gap in the literature on this remarkable taxon. It is a celebration of the diversity of amphibian life and the ecological and behavioral adaptations that have made it a successful component of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Synthesizing seventy years of research on amphibian biology, Kentwood D. Wells addresses all major areas of inquiry, including phylogeny, classification, and morphology; aspects of physiological ecology such as water and temperature relations, respiration, metabolism, and energetics; movements and orientation; communication and social behavior; reproduction and parental care; ecology and behavior of amphibian larvae and ecological aspects of metamorphosis; ecological impact of predation on amphibian populations and antipredator defenses; and aspects of amphibian community ecology. With an eye towards modern concerns, The Ecology and Behavior of Amphibians concludes with a chapter devoted to amphibian conservation.

An unprecedented scholarly contribution to amphibian biology, this book is eagerly anticipated among specialists.


Kentwood D. Wells is professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut.


“For many years now the herpetological community has awaited Kentwood D. Wells’s work on the ecology and behavior of amphibians. It was well worth the wait, for the book is truly a masterpiece. Every topic that Wells addresses in The Ecology and Behavior of Amphibians is a stunning synthesis of the state of our knowledge. He has both the gift of being able to write clearly and synthesize vast quantities of information. I have no doubt this will be the book to which every amphibian biologist turns for factual information, reference, and ideas for future research.”
— Marty Crump

“Kentwood D. Wells is probably the only person in the world with such a breadth of knowledge and grasp of the literature in amphibian biology to even attempt such a monumental book. Indeed, I consider The Ecology and Behavior of Amphibians to be a masterpiece in the field.  I have been awaiting this book for the last fifteen years and, after reading it, I am not only satisfied with it but am amazed by the clarity of writing and the wealth of information presented. This is a magnificent book.”

— Robert Jaeger

"More than a quarter-century in the making, and weightier than a doorstop...the definitive one-volume work on the world's amphibians."
— Steve Grant, The Hartford Courant

The Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division (PSP) of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) 2007 PSPAwards for Excellence.
— 2007 PSP Awards for Excellence

"Wells, a much-published amphibian specialist, has produced a monumental work on salamander, frog, and caecilian ecology, physiology, and behavior. . . . As a single source reference on amphibians, this book has no competitors. It can easily be read and assimilated by amateur naturalists, and it will be an invaluable encyclopedic source for conservationists, field biologists, and amphibian specialists for years to come. An outstanding resource for museum, municipal, college, and university libraries. Essential."
— Choice

"An unprecedented scholarly contribution to amphibian biology, this book is eagerly anticipated among specialists, but is the perfect addition to all amphibiophiles' libraries."
— Biology Digest

"A truly monumental achievement. . . . By summarising the state of our knowledge on amhpibian ecology Wells has done the scientific community an extraordinary service, and I have absolutely no doubt that this book will become the definitive reference for experts in many disciplines who are interested in the study of these remarkable creatures."
— Toby A. Gardner, Biological Conservation

Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2008
— Choice



1 Phylogeny, Classification, and Morphological Evolution

2 Water Relations

3 Temperature Relations

4 Respiration

5 Metabolism and Energetics

6 Movements and Orientation

7 Anuran Vocal Communication

8 Mating Systems and Sexual Selection in Anurans

9 Communication and Social Behavior of Urodeles and Caecilians

10 The Natural History of Amphibian Reproduction

11 Parental Care

12 The Ecology and Behavior of Amphibian Larvae

13 Complex Life Cycles and the Ecology of Amphibian Metamorphosis

14 Amphibians and Their Predators

15 The Ecology of Amphibian Communities

16 Conservation of Amphibians