Evidently there's a new edition of the venerable Houghton Mifflin/Peterson/Conant field guide scheduled to release in the spring of next year. It's already available for preorder on Amazon.
Apparently Robert Powell, the new author, has pledged to incorporate the various taxonomic changes that have been proposed during the 17 years since the previous edition appeared - including the controversial ones that can hardly be thought of as having been generally accepted by the herpetological community (except for the SSAR-HL-ASIH committee composed mainly of those responsible for the controversial proposals).
These changes have been controversial precisely because they have been proposed solely upon very sparse genetic data (all too often upon mitochondrial DNA sequences) that are widely discordant from previous morphological conclusions, without any attempt to rectify or even explain possible reasons for the discrepancies. We are apparently supposed to blindly accept the often questionable genetic data regardless of how counterintuitive it appears because, you know, "DNA doesn't lie" - although it can when one examines only a very small part of it.
Ever since the Peterson Guides were established, with the first Field Guide to the Birds in 1934, their approach to identification has been based upon using observable "field marks" to distinguish between taxa. Only in the case of extremely similar forms was one directed to consult the range maps for the ultimate identification. Many of the recently proposed new herp "species," however, are so-called "cryptic species," which are virtually indistinguishable phenotypically from the original species from which they were split. Such new "species" cannot be reliably identified in the field or even in the lab without expensive sequencing equipment and the technical training to use it. And in many cases, referring the user to range maps will not help much because the cryptic "species" has been based on too few tissue samples from too few localities to establish the actual distribution of that particular genotype. It should prove interesting to see how the new author decides to treat the use of "field marks" when dealing with virtually indistinguishable "species".
The splitting of the former Common Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula) into a number of allegedly independently evolving lineages ("species") provides one of the thorniest problems Dr. Powell will have to deal with in his new edition of the guide. Will he provide us with images of the various "morphs" (former morphological subspecies) that can crop up in each of these new "species"? We provided images of three allegedly different species incorporating splendida "morphs" over in the SWCHR Forum some time ago - you can view them HERE and make up your own mind.
Traditionally the incorporation of a new taxonomic arrangement into a field guide format has been highly influential to its acceptance. The average person, or even the average hobbyist, typically will never read the technical literature nor even consult the so-called standardized lists. They will, however, generally accept whatever taxonomy their field guide uses as being authoritative. Thus it is unfortunate that some of the recent half-baked proposals out there (that desperately require either refutation or confirmation from other workers using other methods) will likely be incorporated into this next edition of a previously venerable field guide.