Pelophylax saharicus (Boulenger, 1913)

Class: Amphibia > Order: Anura > Family: Ranidae > Genus: Pelophylax > Species: Pelophylax saharicus

Rana esculenta var. Latastei Camerano, 1882 "1881", C. R. Assoc. Franç. Avanc. Sci., Paris, 10: 689. Syntypes: MZUT and MBL, according to XXX. Type locality: "dans la partie nord et ouest de l'Afrique et dans l Portugal; j'en ai examiné plusieurs individus de Tanger, Larache, Casablanca, Mogador, Rabat, dans le Maroc, et aussi quelques exemplaires de l'Algérie". Primary homonym of Rana latastei Boulenger, 1879. Synonymy by Dubois and Ohler, 1996 "1994", Zool. Polon., 39: 168.

Rana esculenta var. latastiiBoulenger, 1883, Zool. Rec., 19: 19. Misspelling.

Rana esculenta var. saharica Boulenger In Hartert, 1913, Novit. Zool., 20: 84. Syntypes: BMNH 1912.11.9.136–145, 1912.11.9.147–156, and 8 unnumbered specimens, according to XXX. Type locality: "in the 'lake' at El-Golea [Golea, Laghout], and in the ditches of the Tidikelt oases called Igosten and In-Salah [= Salah Oasis, Tamanrasset]", Algeria. Restricted to Ain Salah oasis by Eiselt and Schmidtler, 1973, Ann. Naturhist. Mus. Wien, 77: 223. Hemmer, Konrad, and Bachmann, 1980, Amphibia-Reptilia, 1: 41–48, suggested this name may attach to a hybridogenetic hemilineage.

Rana ridibunda saharicaTerentjev, 1927, Zool. Anz., 74: 82.

Rana zavattarii Scortecci, 1936, Atti Soc. Ital. Sci. Nat. Mus. Civ. Stor. Nat. Milano, 75: 135. Syntypes: MSNM (10 specimens); lost according to Dubois and Ohler, 1996 "1994", Zool. Polon., 39: 174, in error, at least in part, according to Blackburn and Scali, 2014, Herpetol. Monogr., 28: 36, who discussed the material and identified MSNM 50 (1 specimen), 261 (5 tadpoles), and 1445 (1 specimen) as syntypes. Type locality: "oasi di Elbarkat a pochi chilometri a sud di Gat", Libya. Synonymy (with Rana ridibunda saharica) by Eiselt and Schmidtler, 1973, Ann. Naturhist. Mus. Wien, 77: 232; Salvador, 1996, Smithson. Herpetol. Inform. Serv., 109: 32. See comment. 

Rana ridibunda riodeoroi Salvador and Peris, 1975 "1974", Bol. Est. Centr. Ecol. Madrid, 4: 49. Holotype: MNCN 9930, by original designation. Type locality: "Huerta al Hatri (Edchera)", Western Sahara. Synonymy by Salvador, 1996, Smithson. Herpetol. Inform. Serv., 109: 32; Dubois and Ohler, 1996 "1994", Zool. Polon., 39: 177.

Rana (Rana) saharicaDubois, 1987 "1986", Alytes, 5: 41, by implication.

Rana (Pelophylax) saharicaDubois, 1992, Bull. Mens. Soc. Linn. Lyon, 61: 332.

Rana saharica riodeoriArano, Llorente, Montori, Buckley, and Herrero, 1998, Herpetol. J., 8: 57–64; Géniez, Mateo, and Bons, 2001 "2000", Herpetozoa, Wien, 13: 152.

Rana saharica saharicaArano, Llorente, Montori, Buckley, and Herrero, 1998, Herpetol. J., 8: 57–64; Géniez, Mateo, and Bons, 2001 "2000", Herpetozoa, Wien, 13: 152.

Hylarana saharicaChen, Murphy, Lathrop, Ngo, Orlov, Ho, and Somorjai, 2005, Herpetol. J., 15: 237, by implication.

Pelophylax saharicusFrost, Grant, Faivovich, Bain, Haas, Haddad, de Sá, Channing, Wilkinson, Donnellan, Raxworthy, Campbell, Blotto, Moler, Drewes, Nussbaum, Lynch, Green, and Wheeler, 2006, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 297: 369; Che, Pang, Zhao, Wu, Zhao, and Zhang, 2007, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 43: 1–13, by implication.

English Names

Sahara Frog (Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 109).

North African Frog (Beukema, de Pous, Donaire-Barroso, Bogaerts, Garcia-Porta, Escoriza, Arribas, El Mouden, and Carranza, 2013, Zootaxa, 3661: 49). 

Sahara Green Frog (Channing and Rödel, 2019, Field Guide Frogs & Other Amph. Afr.: 384).


Morocco (and adjacent Western Sahara) through Algeria to Tunisia and northern and southwestern Libya, Siwa Oasis, northwestern Egypt in the Siwa Oasis of the western desert. Also known from localities near the Hoggar Massif in southern Algeria; Ceuta and Melilla (Spain); introduced into Gran Canaria, Canary Is., Spain, and near Marseille, southern France.

Geographic Occurrence

Natural Resident: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, Western Sahara

Introduced: France, Spain


Prior to Uzzell, 1982, Amphibia-Reptilia, 3: 135–143 (who provisionally resurrected the name), this species was considered to be a synonym of Rana perezi, or, following Pasteur and Bons, 1959, Trav. Inst. Scient. Chérifien, Rabat, Ser. Zool., 17: 1–241, a synonym of Rana ridibunda. Although northwest African members of the "Pelophylax esculentus" complex are here tentatively regarded as Pelophylax saharicus, Hemmer, Konrad, and Bachmann, 1980, Amphibia-Reptilia, 1: 41–48, suggested that two species were hybridizing in North Africa. Steinwarz and Schneider, 1991, Bonn. Zool. Beitr., 42: 283–297, considered Rana saharica to likely be a junior synonym of Rana perezi. Populations of the "Rana esculenta" complex of Arabia are not currently allocated to species. See Salvador, 1996, Smithson. Herpetol. Inform. Serv., 109, for account. See Plötner, 1998, J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res., 36: 191–201, for discussion of relationships who suggested a sister-taxon relationship with Rana perezi. Arano, Llorente, Montori, Buckley, and Herrero, 1998, Herpetol. J., 8: 57–64, discussed population-level phylogeny and biogeography. See Géniez, Mateo, and Bons, 2001 "2000", Herpetozoa, Wien, 13: 152, for Western Sahara record. Casola, Marracci, Bucci, Ragghianti, Mancino, Hotz, Uzzell, and Guex, 2004, J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res., 42: 234–244, provided a molecular tree of western Palearctic water frogs (as Rana) in the topology Rana saharica (Pelophylax cretensis (Pelophylax perezi (Pelophylax shqipericus (Pelophylax epeiroticus ("Pelophylax lessonae" + Pelophylax ridibundus))))). Baha El Din, 2006, Guide Rept. Amph. Egypt: 43–45, provided an account for Egypt. Géniez, Mateo, Geniez, and Pether, 2004, Amph. Rept. W. Sahara: 39–41, provided a brief account for Western Sahara. Amor, Farjallah, and Said, 2009, Afr. Zool., 44: 194–203, reported on geographic variation in Tunisia. Amor, Velo-Antón, Farjallah, and Said, 2010, Afr. Zool., 45: 121–128, reported a lack of genetic phylogeographic structure in Tunisia. Amor, Farjallah, Ben-Yacoub, Merella, and Said, 2010, Curr. Zool., Chengdu, 56: 678–686, reported on significant morphometric variation among populations in Algeria and Tunisia. Farjallah, Amor, Merella, and Said, 2012, Pakistan J. Zool., 44: 901–907, reported on patterns of genetic diversity in Tunisia. Reques, Pleguezuelos, Busack, and de Pous, 2013, Basic & Appl. Herpetol., 27: 23–50, discussed the range and conservation status in Morocco and Western Sahara. Amor, Kalboussi, and Said, 2013, Basic & Appl. Herpetol., 27: 85–100, discussed the range in Tunisia and its conservation status. See comments on distribution and population status in Egypt by Ibrahim, 2013, Basic & Appl. Herpetol., 27: 111–112. Ibrahim, 2013, Basic & Appl. Herpetol., 27: 101–106, discussed ranges and population status in Libya. Mateo, Géniez, and Pether, 2013, Basic & Appl. Herpetol., 27: 51–83, provided a range map, comments on the range and population status in Algeria. Beukema, de Pous, Donaire-Barroso, Bogaerts, Garcia-Porta, Escoriza, Arribas, El Mouden, and Carranza, 2013, Zootaxa, 3661: 49–50, provided an account or Morocco. Lansari, Vences, Hauswaldt, Hendrix, Donaire-Barroso, Bouazza, Joger, El Mouden, and Slimani, 2015, Amphibia-Reptilia, 36: 437–443, discussed the mtDNA haplotype differences in populations north and south of the Atlas Massif in Morocco. Mediani, Brito, and Fahd, 2015, Basic & Appl. Herpetol., 29: 81–107, provided a dot map for northern Morocco. Mateo, 2015, Bol. Asoc. Herpetol. Esp., 26: 27–28, reported an introduced population on Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain. Nicolas, Mataame, Crochet, Géniez, and Ohler, 2015, J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res., 53: 239–248, reported on molecular phylogeography. See detailed account for North Africa by Escoriza and Ben Hassine, 2019, Amph. N. Afr.: 218–229. Mabrouki, Taybi, Skalli, and Sánchez-Vialas, 2019, Basic & Appl. Herpetol., 33: 19–32, commented on and mapped the species in the Mouloua River Basin and adjacent areas in eastern Morocco. Channing and Rödel, 2019, Field Guide Frogs & Other Amph. Afr.: 384–385, provided a brief account, photograph, and range map. See Dufresnes, 2019, Amph. Eur., N. Afr., & Middle East: 104, for brief summary of identifying morphology and biology, a range map, as well as a photograph (see p. 198 for photographs and map of subspecies). Doniol-Valcroze, Mazepa, Grimal, Sourrouille, Perrin, Litvinchuk, and Crochet, 2021, Amphibia-Reptilia, 42: 427–442, reported an introduced population near the Etang de Berre, ca. 25 km northwest of Marseille, France, as well as noting a cryptic lineage. Discussion of range in Libya with dot map of distribution in that country provided by Blackburn, Nielsen, and Jdeidi, 2022, Herpetol. Rev., 53: 211–219. Nouira, Blanc, Crochet, Frétey, Géniez, Ineich, De Massary, Ohler, Tlili, and Lescure, 2022, Bull. Soc. Herpetol. France, 180: 12, discussed the species in Tunisia. Dufresnes, Monod-Broca, Bellati, Canestrelli, Ambu, Wielstra, Dubey, Crochet, Denoël, and Jablonski, 2024, Global Change Biol., 30 (e17180): 1–30, discussed the mtDNA and nuDNA signatures of this lineage and its phylogenetic placement, including noting a to-be delimited lineage in Libya for which the name Pelophylax zavataarii may be available.   

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