|Prof. Dr. Bayram GÖÇMEN|
Zoologist, Herpetologist, Protozoologist/Parasitologist, Nature Photographer
7. AMPHIBIANS IN CYPRUS
7.1. Family: Bufonidae
Bufo viridis Laurenti, 1768 (Green Toad)
Current scientific name : Pseudoepidelea variabilis
Identification: SVL (Snout-Vent Length) up to 9 cm; i.e., smaller than the other species of the genus in Turkey, B. bufo. Parotoid glands are distinct; the iris green or greenish with mixed black Iines. Tympani are distinct; the skin rough. The male has a vocal sac. A single row of tubercles under fingers. The dorsum generally gray, greenish or whitish with large green maculations usually rimmed in black. The lateral body warts, and sometimes the dorsal warts are red. The venter is dirty white, with or without maculations.
Habitat & Biology: This nocturnal species shelters in the daytime under stones or within subterranean burrows in gardens or open fields. Is more tolerant to dessication. Predating on insects, earthworms and some molluscs. Vocalisation of the males resembles a loud police whistle. Goes to water only for breeding. A female spawns 10.000-12.000 eggs in two strings in suitable places of lakes, lakelets, pools or slowly flowing streams.
Distribution: The range of the species extends from N Africa, Mediterranean countries including Northern Cyprus, Middle and S Europe, Turkey to W Asia and Mongolia. Its vertical distribution is up to 4600 m. Northern Cyprus, is, according to some authors (Osenegg, 1989: Schätti & Sigg, 1989), inhabited by B. v. arabicus Heyden, 1827; however, the taxonomical status of this population group is not clear yet (Böhme & Wiedl, 1994; Göçmen et al., 1996a). This species is abundantly distributed especially around the vicinity of the lakelets of Gönyeli (Nicosia, Lefkosa) and Geçitköy (Kyrenia, Girne) in TRNC.
7.2. Family: Hylidae
Hyla savignyi AUDOIN, 1827 (Green Frog)
Identification: SVL up to 5 cm; skin smooth dorsally, granulated ventrally. Tympanic membranes distinct. Typically, fingers and toes end in wide, disc shaped adhesive pads. Males have a large vocal sac beneath the chin. The dorsum is usually a bright green, sometimes changing to gray, yellowish or blackish, sometimes with dark coloured small spots. This species is usually quite similar to H. arborea (Linnaeus, 1758) (Common Tree Frog), but differs from that species in having relatively longer hind legs and no spur-like branch of the dark lateral stripe in the inguinal region. Also, the stripe is not continuous. In Hyla arborea, a dark stripe, which begins in front of the eye, extends through the tympanic membrane, and laterally along flanks to the inguinal area, and there forms a spur-like branch anterodorsally. The venter is whitish or slightly yellowish.
Habitat & Biology: An arboreal species; frequenting trees, shrubs, bushes or reeds. Nocturnal in habit, shelters under leaves in the daytime. Not easy to detect because of its colour changing ability. Goes to water only in the breeding season. Feeds on various flying insects and spiders. Has potent poisonous skin secretions. Prefers clean and deep waters with much vegetation for breeding. The vocalisation of the males is quite strong during the breeding period. The walnut sized egg masses are sometimes attached to the vegetation in water, containing 800-1,000 eggs.
Distribution: Is known from Cyprus, Turkey, Israel, Syria, Iran and Transcaucasica. It is widely distributed in the vicinity Lefke (Nicosia), Geçitköy and Lapta (Kyrenia) in Northern Cyprus.
7.3. Family: Ranidae
Rana ridibunda PALLAS, 1771 (Marsh Frog)
Current scientific name: Pelophylax bedriagae (=P. cypriensis)
Identification: SVL up to 15 cm. Tympanal membrane distinct, a temporal stripe is not present. Dorsolateral skin folds well developed. The skin is usually rough to warty; the males with two vocal sacs. The dorsum is greenish-gray, may also be light to dark brown. Darker patches of marbling or maculations also present. In some specimens, a lighter coloured vertebral stripe is evident. Venter usually dirty white or yellowish, frequently with small, dark markings; in some, the venter is reddish. Recently, some authors believe that the Cyprus population belongs to Rana levantina Schneider, Sinch & Nevo, 1992 (Levantine Frog) (Presently known from the Nile Delta, Israel and Turkey), a frog species recently distinguished from Rana ridibunda with its characteristic vocalization. SVL up to 85 mm. The dorsum is green and brown; with dark green, dark brown or black maculations; hind limbs with large dark blotches. But this status is not confirmed yet, since the morphological characteristics, habitats and biology are overlapping those of Rana ridibunda.
Habitat & Biology: Strongly aquatic, inhabits lakes, pools or slowly flowing streams with much vegetation. Stays in close proximity of water bodies and prefers low plains or marshes. Sometimes seen in strong currents. A gregarious and diurnal species, but can forage also in the nighttime. Main diet is insects. A female lays 5,000-10,000 eggs as several masses either between aquatic plants or directly into open water.
Distribution: The species is widespread in N Africa, Middle and S Europe, Turkey, W Asia and Cyprus with a vertical distribution up to 2500 m. In Northern Cyprus, this species is abundantly encountered in the lakelets Geçitköy (Kyrenia) and Gönyeli (Nicosia) and also around Lefke (near the boundary of Greek Side in the western of the country, Nicosia).
Figure 7: A male Bufo viridis specimen from Geçitköy (Kyrenia), photo by B. Göçmen.
Figure 8: A female Bufo viridis specimen from Geçitköy (Kyrenia), photo by B. Göçmen
Figure 9: A view from Geçitköy Lakelet (Kyrenia), photo by B. Göçmen.
Figure 11: A habitat from the vicinity of Geçitköy Lakelet (Kyrenia), photo by B. Göçmen.
Figure 13: A view from Gönyeli Lakelet (Nicosia), photo by B. Göçmen.
©Bayram GÖÇMEN, All Rights Reserved.