This is a widespread species in western, central and eastern Europe and ranges as far eastwards as eastern Kazakhstan. There are introduced populations in the southeast United Kingdom (where the range is spreading), Switzerland, Belgium (Wallonia), Spain (Villasbuenas de Gata, Cáceres and unspecified localities in Galicia, Cataluña and Comunidad Valenciana), Siberia and Kamchatka, Russia and northwestern Xinjiang (Yining, Tacheng, Wenquan, Huocheng and Xinyuan), China. It is present throughout Turkey (although this might represent a separate taxon), possibly Syrian Arab Republic, much of Iran, northeastern Iraq and most of northern Afghanistan (absent from Pakistan). Isolated populations are present in Bahrain (it is not known as to whether or not this is an introduction) and within Saudi Arabia (relict populations in the southern Hadramaut, and an introduction at Al Kharj). Further investigations are needed into the range of the species within Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Numerous introductions have expanded the range in Siberia and Kamchatka. In Central Asia, it is often difficult to distinguish between the periphery of natural range and the areas occupied after dispersal and introductions. Numerous populations in Kazakhstan have originated through deliberate introductions from local laboratories and universities. The species was introduced into Siberia and Kamchatka through the accidental introduction of tadpoles with fish into reservoirs with warm discharge waters from electric power stations. It occurs from sea level to altitudes of around 2,500m asl.
Habitat and Ecology
It is a highly opportunistic amphibian, living in mixed and deciduous forests, forest steppe, and steppe and other grasslands, semi-desert and desert zones. Arid areas are largely colonized through river valleys and channels. The frog prefers open, well-warmed areas with abundant herbaceous vegetation. It is a semi-aquatic species, inhabiting (and breeding in) a wide variety of flowing and stagnant water habitats, from shallow puddles and ponds to large lakes, reservoirs, rivers and brooks. It may also be found in slightly saline water; on the northern shore of the Apsheron Peninsula (Caspian Sea), reproduction has been observed in marine water at a distance of 0.5-1m from the shore. It is present in many modified habitats.
This is generally a common to abundant species where it occurs.
There are no major threats to this adaptable species. Loss of breeding habitats may lead to localized declines, but it is very resistant to environmental pollution and animals may be found in highly polluted waters (such as chemical or metallurgic pollution) where other amphibian species cannot survive. Severe, or prolonged, droughts may lead to localized population declines of this frog in arid areas. The harvesting of this species for educational and medical research, or food, appears to have little effect on some populations, although the frog-leg trade and high levels of pollution are leading to significant declines in populations in eastern Asia, in the former Yugoslavia (Dzukic, 1996; Ljubisavljevic et al. 2003) and possibly also in Romania. In Turkey, the harvesting of frog populations allocated to Pelophylax ridibunda for food appears to be a threat, thus the frog-leg trade and very significant levels of pollution due to some industrial areas might be leading to significant declines in populations in Turkey.
It is listed on Annex V of the EU Natural Habitats Directive and on Appendix III of the Berne Convention, and is protected by national legislation in a number of countries. It is listed in a number of national and regional Red Data Books and Lists, and is present in many protected areas. There is a need to control or eliminate this species where it has been introduced outside its natural range, as it is a threat to native species. In parts of its range, mitigation measures to reduce road kill have been established.
Red List Status
Least Concern (LC)
Pelophylax ridibundus is the central member of the P. ridibundus complex. Investigations of mitochondrial DNA suggest that populations from the southern Caucasus and Central Asia might represent a separate species. The taxonomy of Anatolian water frogs (including P. ridibundus) is still unclear; some authors suggest that the presence of P. ridibundus in Turkey cannot be established on the basis of morphometric data.
Sergius Kuzmin, David Tarkhnishvili, Vladimir Ishchenko, Tatjana Dujsebayeva, Boris Tuniyev, Theodore Papenfuss, Trevor Beebee, Ismail H. Ugurtas, Max Sparreboom, Nasrullah Rastegar-Pouyani, Ahmad Mohammed Mousa Disi, Steven Anderson, Mathieu Denoël, Franco Andreone 2009. Pelophylax ridibundus. In: IUCN 2014