"Temporary Ponds: a natural habitat to be protected!"

Amphibians

> Parsley frog

Pelodytes sp.


It is a small toad, which usually measures between 3.5 to 4.5 cm in total length, but can reach 5cm. His head is flattened with a short, rounded nose. It has large, prominent eyes with a vertical pupil and golden iris, which has dark spots on its underside.

The eardrum is barely visible and the parotids glands are absent. It has a relatively long anterior limbs with 4 elongated fingers and the hind limbs are also long with 5 very elongated fingers with the interdigital membranes absent.

It has a lateral glandular fold that extends from the eye to the zone of insertion of the anterior limb. Quite peculiar are the somewhat elongated olive-green warts that stand out from the bright green back, often creating a few rows along the body.

Pelodytes sp.- Photo of Elisabete Rodrigues

Sexual Dimorphism

Males have well developed inner vocal sacs and limbs, fingers and head proportionally larger than females, however, females usually reach body sizes higher than males and the weight ranges from 4-12g for females and 3-6g for males.

The males, although a little smaller, have a strong croaking consisting of two notes: a rising sound huah! Followed by a graaah descending sound that repeats two or more times.

Cortesy of Milaram

Behaviour

Of predominantly dusk or nocturnal habits, the annual activity of this species is only noticed in the breeding season. In general, it goes through a period of inactivity during the hottest summer months, and may also go through a rest period in the coldest regions of its range.

It preferred locations are in open and sunny areas, natural or artificial bodies of water. Males croak in water and / or near tufts of vegetation.

Reproduction

During the breeding season, which runs from late fall to late spring, with higher incidence during the month of February, males develop black bridal callosities on the forelegs, inner toes and belly, as the following image illustrates. The nuptial callosities help the male to stay in positioned during the amplexus.

Bridal callosities of Pelodytes sp. - Photo of Vasco Flores Cruz in Anfíbios e Répteis de Portugal

In order to reproduce themselves, adults use temporary ponds, backwater areas of small brooks, lakes and even coastal lagoons, because, like the Iberian Spadefoot Toad (Pelobates cultripes), they tolerate brackish waters.

Males are the first to reach the breeding grounds, being able to sing both in the vicinity of the water and on the surface or even submerged. The amplexus is inguinal and usually occurs within water.

Females deposit between 1000 and 1600 eggs in strings that attach to aquatic plants. Hatching occurs about ten days after laying and the duration of the larval period may range from two to three and a half months.

Eggs of Pelodytes sp. - Photo of Vasco Flores Cruz in Anfíbios e Répteis de Portugal

Tadpole of Pelodytes sp.  Photo of Vasco Flores Cruz in Anfíbios e Répteis de Portugal

Tadpole of Pelodytes sp.  Photo of Vasco Flores Cruz in Anfíbios e Répteis de Portugal

Juvenil of Pelodytes sp.  Photo of Vasco Flores Cruz in Anfíbios e Répteis de Portugal

Juvenil of Pelodytes sp.  Photo of Vasco Flores Cruz in Anfíbios e Répteis de Portugal

Adult of Pelodytes sp.  Photo of Vasco Flores Cruz in Anfíbios e Répteis de Portugal

Feeding

Adult of Pelodytes sp. feed on small insects and other invertebrates. The larvae feed on mainly algae, debris, fungi and remains of aquatic plants.

Its predators include nocturnal birds of prey, water snakes and, in the case of larvae, the marbled newt. As defence mechanisms, the parsley frog can secrete a mucus through the skin or escape into water and hide in the background.

It is found in open areas of heathland or in arable plains, especially in flooded land, in the banks of ponds, small lagoons, or in the backwaters of temporary streams. It also colonizes reservoirs, flooded ditches and other marginal environments, such as abandoned quarries.

Being a geotropic specie, it also appears in wells, noria, mines and caves, as well as in other underground structures.

 

It is suspected that in this region of the Southwest of Portugal the Pelodytes belong to a distinct genetic line, although not completely clarified (van de Vliet et al 2012). Until then, quite disjointly, the species is given as occurring also above the Mira river in the western half of Portugal.

The typical form (P. punctatus) is distributed in the eastern part of Spain entering through the South of France above.

 

Mathieu Denoël, Pedro Beja, Franco Andreone, Jaime Bosch, Claude Miaud, Miguel Tejedo, Miguel Lizana, Iñigo Martínez-Solano, Alfredo Salvador, Mario García-París, Ernesto Recuero Gil, Rafael Marquez, Marc Cheylan, Carmen Diaz Paniagua, Valentin Pérez-Mellado. 2009. Pelodytes punctatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T58056A11710052. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2009.RLTS.T58056A11710052.en. Downloaded on 05 December 2016.

The related species P. ibericus is distributed below the Tagus line, in Portugal, in most of the Alentejo and Algarve; In Spain by Extremadura and Andalusia. But it is not known exactly where the border between both species occurs.

Jaime Bosch, Miguel Tejedo, Miguel Lizana, Pedro Beja, Iñigo Martínez-Solano, Alfredo Salvador, Mario García-París, Ernesto Recuero Gil, Rafael Marquez, Carmen Diaz Paniagua, Valentin Pérez-Mellado. 2009. Pelodytes ibericus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T58055A11724130. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2009.RLTS.T58055A11724130.en. Downloaded on 05 December 2016.

In the Red Book of the Vertebrates of Portugal the category "Not evaluated" was attributed to the species(s) of the genus Pelodytes because its taxonomic status is not clarified.

However, in the case of P. punctatus its IUCN classification is of Least Concern with the declining population trend.

Mathieu Denoël, Pedro Beja, Franco Andreone, Jaime Bosch, Claude Miaud, Miguel Tejedo, Miguel Lizana, Iñigo Martínez-Solano, Alfredo Salvador, Mario García-París, Ernesto Recuero Gil, Rafael Marquez, Marc Cheylan, Carmen Diaz Paniagua, Valentin Pérez-Mellado. 2009. Pelodytes punctatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T58056A11710052. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2009.RLTS.T58056A11710052.en. Downloaded on 05 December 2016.

The species P. ibericus is also classified as Least Concern despite its population tendency to be stable.

Jaime Bosch, Miguel Tejedo, Miguel Lizana, Pedro Beja, Iñigo Martínez-Solano, Alfredo Salvador, Mario García-París, Ernesto Recuero Gil, Rafael Marquez, Carmen Diaz Paniagua, Valentin Pérez-Mellado. 2009. Pelodytes ibericus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T58055A11724130. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2009.RLTS.T58055A11724130.en. Downloaded on 05 December 2016.

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