Reptiles and amphibians are surprisingly understudied in ecology. In this research perspective, I examine five areas of research in ecology, associated with the research areas and organisms that have attracted my interest as an ecologist for over 40 years. After discussing the forces and studies that shaped my interests and approaches I used as an ecologist, I then examine these fields, focusing on the utility of herptiles as study systems in each case. I first describe the use of reptiles and amphibians, but especially reptiles, as study organisms with which to examine the mechanisms of effects of anthropogenic habitat modifications. I then move on to describe the use of lizards in life history and performance evolution studies, including their use in studies of skin functional morphology and adhesion. After these descriptions, I briefly discuss the use of frogs in understanding disease ecology and cane toads as a system in which to study the control of invasive organisms. Finally, I discuss the use of long-term acoustic recordings of frog choruses to reveal ecological patterns. I put these areas into the framework of my own scientific trajectory from Canada to Australia and from life history studies on single species to preparing for pattern seeking in years-long, continent-wide acoustic recordings. All along, amphibians and reptiles have been outstanding model systems with which to make headway on a wide variety of ecological questions.