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ROBERT F. INGER’S SYSTEMATICS AND ZOOGEOGRAPHY OF PHILIPPINE AMPHIBIA By Rafe M. Brown

ROBERT F. INGER’S SYSTEMATICS AND ZOOGEOGRAPHY OF PHILIPPINE AMPHIBIA By Rafe M. Brown

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For students of Southeast Asian herpetological diversity, biogeography,
and systematics, there are a few seminal works that should be
considered “required reading.” Such classics must be kept readily at
hand for many purposes, including quick reference, source of primary data,
context for hypothesis testing, and contemplative review. One such work is
Robert Inger’s Systematics and Zoogeography of Philippine Amphibia,
published as part of the results of the Chicago Natural History Museum’s
Philippine Zoological Expedition, 1946–1947 (Hoogstral, 1951; Inger,
1954). Inger’s monograph is widely recognized as an Asian herpetological
milestone and yet I suspect that its true impact has yet to be fully
appreciated.
It is useful to think of the history of Philippine herpetology as having
unfolded in five distinct periods (Brown et al., 2002). These include the
initial period of exploration when early collectors and explorers conveyed
specimens to American and European museums, resulting in the
miscellaneous publications of Boulenger, Günther, Peters, Boettger
Stejneger and others). Second, the career of E. H. Taylor (1913-1975)
resulted in a lengthy and productive series of taxonomic publications
including descriptions of many of the truly spectacular Philippine
endemics. The third phase was marked by the arrival of R. F. Inger and the
publication of his monograph on Philippine Amphibia in 1954. The fourth
and fifth stages of Philippine herpetology include the lengthy collaboration
of W. C. Brown and A. C. Alcala (1958–2000) and, finally, the present day,
on-going effort to review the amphibians and reptiles of the Philippines
comprehensively. It is the third period that interests us here. This period
marked a turning point in the history of Philippine herpetology. In many
ways, Inger’s monograph was the first and last comprehensive systematic
treatment of the Philippine Amphibia.

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