About the species

The Pelobatidae family is a morphologically conservative group of ancient primitive frogs that have obscure relationships to the remaining clades of Anura (Ford and Cannatella, 1993; García-París et al., 2003; Frost et al., 2006). Until recently, due to their similar life style and general morphological appearance, in this family were included also the seven species of North American spadefoot toads, but recent studies have placed them into a separate family, Scaphiopodidae, with two genus, Scaphiopus and Spea (García-París et al., 2003; Frost et al., 2006).

Currently, the Pelobatidae family contains a single genus, Pelobates with four species: one from Morocco, P. varaldii, one from Western Europe, P. cultripes, one from Central and Eastern Europe, P. fuscus and one in south-east Balkans, east to south-eastern Transcaucasia, northern Iran, and south to the Levant, P. syriacus.

In Romania, only P. fuscus and P. syriacus occur in the wild.

The species of this genus are strictly nocturnal outside the breeding season and hide during daylight in deep burrows. Not surprisingly, due to their secretive life-style, the spadefoot toads were described quite late in many countries from the Balkans. Thus, P. syriacus was described from Macedonia only in 1928 (Karaman, 1928), in Bulgaria in 1932 (Müller, 1932), in Romania in 1954 (Băcescu, 1954) and in Greece in 1975 (Böhme, 1975).

The Balkan Peninsula is of crucial importance for an understanding of the many poor known attributes, such as historical and current chorology, phylogeography, taxonomical diversity etc., of spadefoot toads from Europe (Džukić et al., 2005). Dobrudja is particularly important because it represents one of the southernmost portions of the range of P. fuscus and at the same time the northernmost portion of the range of P. syriacus.

References

Băcescu, M. 1954. Pelobates syriacus balcanicus Karaman, o broască nouă pentru fauna R.P.R. Comunicările Academiei R.P.R. 4: 483-490.

Böhme, W. 1975. Zum Vorkommen von Pelobates syriacus Boettger, 1889 in Griechenland (Amphibia: Pelobatidae). Senckenbergiana biologica 56: 199-201.

Džukić, G., Beskov, V., Sidorovska, V., Cogălniceanu, D., Kalezić, M. 2005. Historical and contemporary ranges of the spadefoot toads (Pelobates spp., Amphibia, Anura) in the Balkan Peninsula. Acta Zoologica Cracoviensia 48: 1-9.

Ford, L.S., Cannatella, D.C. 1993. The major clades of frogs. Herpetological Monographs 7: 94-117.

Frost, D. R., Grant, T., Faivovich, J., Bain, R.H., Haas, A., Haddad, C.F.B., De Sa, R.O., Channing, A., Wilkinson, M., Donnellan, S.C., Raxworthy, C.J., Campbell, J.A., Blotto, B.L., Moler, P., Drewes, R.C., Nussbaum, R.A., Lynch, J.D., Green, D.M., Wheeler, W.C. 2006. The amphibian tree of life. Bulletin American Museum of Natural History. New York. 297: 1-370.

García-París, M., Buchholz, D.R., Parra-Olea, G. 2003. Phylogenetic relationships of Pelobatoidea reexamined using mtDNA. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 28: 12-23.

Karaman S.L. 1928. Contribution to herpetology of Yugoslavia. Bulletin de la Societe Scientifique de Skopje 4, Section des Sciences Naturelles 1: 129-143. (in Serbian).

Müller, L. 1932. Beiträge zur Herpetologie der südeuropaischen Halbinsel/I. Herpetologisch Neues aus Bulgarien. Zoologischer Anzeiger 100: 299-309.

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