Pelobates syriacus Boettger, 1889

Class: Amphibia > Order: Anura > Family: Pelobatidae > Genus: Pelobates > Species: Pelobates syriacus

Pelobates syriacus Boettger, 1889, Zool. Anz., 12: 145. Syntypes: SMF (2 specimens); SMF 1437.1a reported as a type by Boettger, 1892, Kat. Batr. Samml. Mus. Senckenb. Naturforsch. Ges.: vi; SMF 1722 (formerly 1437.1a) designated lectotype by Mertens, 1967, Senckenb. Biol., 48(A): 38. Type locality:"Haiffa in Syrien", now Haifa, Israel.

Pelobates syriacus boettgeri Mertens, 1923, Senckenb. Biol., 5: 122. Holotype: SMF 1725 (formerly 1437.2a) according to Mertens, 1967, Senckenb. Biol., 48(A): 38. Type locality:"Belesuwar, südwestlich vom Machmudtschalasi-See, unweit der russisch-persischen Grenze, Transkaukasien", Azerbaijan. Subspecific distinction from Pelobates syriacus syriacus rejected by Eiselt and Schmidtler, 1973, Ann. Naturhist. Mus. Wien, 77: 184, and Başoğlu and Özeti, 1973, Türkiye Amphibileri: 129.

Pelobates syriacus syriacusMertens, 1923, Senckenb. Biol., 5: 122.

Pelobates transcaucasicus Delwig, 1928, Zool. Anz., 75: 27. Syntypes: ZISP (9 specimens) and ZIK Amph A5/A (2164) according to Pisanets, 2001, Cat. Types Specimens Ukran. Acad. Sci., 1: 91. Type locality: "Tiflis" (=Tbilisi, Georiga). Synonymy by Eiselt and Schmidtler, 1973, Ann. Naturhist. Mus. Wien, 77: 183.

Pseudopelobates transcaucasicusPasteur, 1958, C. R. Hebd. Séances Acad. Sci., Paris, 247: 1037.

English Names

Syrian Spade-foot Toad (Flower, 1933, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1933: 838).

Eastern Spadefoot (Arnold and Burton, 1978, Field Guide Rept. Amph. Brit. Eur.: 67; Stumpel-Rienks, 1992, Ergänzungsband Handbuch Rept. Amph. Eur., Trivialnamen der Herpetofauna Eur.: 52; Kuzmin, 1999, Amph. Former Soviet Union: 174; Tarkhnishvili and Gokhelashvili, 1999, Adv. Amph. Res. Former Soviet Union, 4: v; Arnold, 2002, Rept. Amph. Eur., Ed. 2: 70; Arakelyan, Danielyan, Corti, Sindaco, and Leviton, 2011, Herpetofauna of Armenia: 39).

Southwest Asian Spadefoot (Ananjeva, Borkin, Darevsky, and Orlov, 1988, Dict. Amph. Rept. Five Languages: 108).

Syrian Spadefoot Toad (Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 96; Sofianidou, 1997, in Gasc et al. (eds.), Atlas Amph. Rept. Eur.: 113).


Middle East, sea level to 2000 m elevation; from the Syrian coast at the border of Lebanon to the southern Israeli coast, as well as in south-western Syria and western Jordan (although possibly extinct there); European Turkey possibly into adjacent Bulgaria; Limnos I., northern Aegean of Greece; Asian Turkey in isolated populations to the southern slopes of the Caucasus, from Georgia to Azerbaijan, into adjacent Dagestan, Russia, thence east into Ardabil, East Azarbaijan, Gilan, Golestan, and Mazandaran provinces, northern Iran; expected in northern Iraq. 

Geographic Occurrence

Natural Resident: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Russia, Syria, Turkey

Likely/Controversially Present: Iraq


Care should be taken with literature published before 2019, when major realignments of species limits were published by Dufresnes, Strachinis, Tzoras, Litvinchuk, and Denoël, 2019, ZooKeys, 859: 131–158, who discussed the phylogenetics, natural history, and range of the species. Uğurtaş, 2001, Asiat. Herpetol. Res., 9: 139–141, reported on geographic variation of dorsal color pattern and morphometrics in Turkey. Kuzmin, 2013, Amph. Former Soviet Union, Ed. 2: 128–130, provided an account for the former USSR. Uğurtaş, Ljubisavljević, Sidorovska, Kalezić, and Džukić, 2002, Israel J. Zool., 48: 13–32, discussed geographic variation of this species and found the Balkan population (now Pelobates balcanicus) to be quite distinctive from the Asia Minor population (Pelobates syriacus syriacus), and the Balkan populations (Serbia and Macedonia + Bulgaria) to form two also distinctive populations (Pelobates syriacus balcanicus and an unnamed subspecies). Disi, Modry, Necas, and Rifai, 2001, Amph. Rept. Hashemite Kingdom Jordan: 99–101, provided an account for the Jordanian population. Özeti and Yilmaz, 1994, Türkiye Amfibileri: 114–120, provided an account for Turkish populations. Baloutch and Kami, 1995, Amph. Iran: 108–110, provided an account for Iran. Delfino, Bar-Oz, and Weissbrod, 2007, Zool. Middle East, 40: 45–52, reported the species extralimitally in Bronze-Age archeological site from the lower Galilee area, implying substantial environmental change. Mazanaeva and Askenderov, 2007, Russ. J. Herpetol., 14: 161–166, discussed the range in Dagestan, Russia. Anderson, 1978, Herpetol. Rev., 9: 21, provided records for Mazandaran Province, Iran, and commented on the more westerly records for Caspian Iran. Kami and Vakilpoure, 1996, Herpetol. Rev., 27: 149, provided additional records for Iran. Düsen and Urhan, 2008, Russ. J. Herpetol., 15: 189–192, provided a record for western Anatolia, Turkey. Kamali and Malekzadeh, 2013, Russ. J. Herpetol., 20: 238–239, provided a record for northern Iran and discussed the range in that country. Safaei-Mahroo, Ghaffari, Fahimi, Broomand, Yazdanian, Najafi-Majd, Hosseinian Yousefkani, Rezazadeh, Hosseinzadeh, Nasrabadi, Mashayekhi, Motesharei, Naderi, and Kazemi, 2015, Asian Herpetol. Res., 6: 257–290, reported on distribution and conservation status in Iran. Strachinis and Roussos, 2016, Herpetol. Notes, 9: 237–248, provided records from the Greek island of Limnos. Speybroeck, Beukema, Bok, and Van Der Voort, 2016, Field Guide Amph. Rept. Brit. Eur.: 141–142, provided a brief account and range map for Europe. Mulder, 2019, Amph. Rept. Conserv., 13: 162–172, reported the species from the Mount Ararat region of extreme eastern Turkey. Dufresnes, Strachinis, Suriadna, Mykytynets, Cogǎlniceanu, Székely, Vukov, Arntzen, Wielstra, Lymberakis, Geffen, Gafny, Kumlutaş, Ilgaz, Candan, Mizsei, Szabolcs, Kolenda, Smirnov, Géniez, Lukanov, Crochet, Dubey, Perrin, Litvinchuk, and Denoël, 2019, Mol. Ecol., 28: 3257–3270, reported on the hybrid zone with Pelobates balcanicus. See Dufresnes, 2019, Amph. Eur., N. Afr., & Middle East: 59, for brief summary of identifying morphology and biology, a range map, as well as a photograph. Key to the species, synonymy, distribution (including map), and access to literature provided by Safaei-Mahroo and Ghaffari, 2020, Compl. Guide Amph. Iran: 1–331. Yaşar, Çiçek, Mulder, and Tok, 2021, North-West. J. Zool., Romania, 17(e201512): 232–275, discussed (in the sense of including Pelobates balcanicus) and grid-mapped the range in Turkey. Gasimova, 2021, Biharean Biol., 15: 112–116, discussed the range in Azerbaijan, and provided a dot map. Safaei-Mahroo, Ghaffari, and Niamir, 2023, Zootaxa, 5279: 1–112, provided for Iran an identification key including this species, photographs, habitat, conservation threats and Red List recommendation, a review of the literature, as well as dot and modeled distribution maps.     

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