Vomerine teeth present. Posterior part of the tongue free and forked. Toes webbed. Omosternum and sternum ossified. Pupil of the eye horizontal. Snout rounded or slightly sharp. Male with internal vocal sacs. Legs long; shin shorter than body by 1.5-2.1 times. When the shins are positioned perpendicularly to the body axis, the heels overlap. When the hind leg is stretched along the body, the tibio-tarsal articulation (ankle) exceeds or does not exceed the tip of the snout. Inner metatarsal tubercle high and oval, shorter than the first toe by 1.4-3.6 times. Flank and thigh skin smooth. Dorsal coloration olive, greyish, dark-violet, orange-pinkish, reddish or brown. Dark spots on dorsal surface vary in number, size and arrangement. Temporal spot large. Light, distinct, middorsal line present or absent. Belly almost always without pattern, pinkish or orange-red, sometimes whitish or yellowish in color. Throat white or greyish, sometimes spotted. These spots sometimes extend to chest. The male differs from the female by having nuptial pads on the first finger, paired vocal sacs and, sometimes, by certain features of coloration.
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Islamic Republic of, Turkey, Turkmenistan
The species is widespread in the forest and subalpine belts of the Caucasus and Asia Minor to Iran and Southwestern Turkmenia. The northern margin of its range extends from the northeastern shore of the Black Sea in Russia, approximately along the line: Krasnodar Region, Russia (Abrau Peninsula in Novorossiisk District: ca. 44º43'N, 37º30'E - Krasnodar City - Kropotkin Town) - Stavropol Region (Stavropol City: 45º03'N, 41º59'E - Essentuki Town - Pyatigorsk Town) - north of Kabardino-Balkaria - North Ossetia (Mozdok District) - Chechnya (Grozny City) - Northern Daghestan. Some European populations of this species are relicts of a wider past distribution.The southern margin of the range extends from the Western Turkey through the south of Turkey and Northern Iraq, as well as Northern Iran to the Kopet-Dagh Ridge in Turkmenia (the site of Arpaklen about 25 km east from the Kara-Kala Village and in the surroundings of Ashkhabad City: 37º57'N, 58º23'E). These records were not confirmed by special further searches, and may belong to extinct populations or confusion in the labeling of the collection materials.
The frog lives in broad-leaf, mixed, and coniferous forests, swamps in mountains and foothill forests and true steppes, subalpine and alpine meadows. In dry areas, the frog lives mainly near permanent water: lakes, rivers, brooks, springs etc., usually surrounded by dense herbaceous and shrubby vegetation. As a rule, adults occur no further than a few hundred meters from the nearest water bodies. Spawning occurs in ponds, lakes, swamps, ditches and stream pools with stagnant and semi-flowing water.
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
In the Caucasus, Rana macrocnemis is one of the most common and abundant amphibians. its density may attain several hundred to several thousand individuals per hectare. However, in the south of Turkmenia it is very rare or extinct species.Rana macrocnemis hibernates both in water and on land; the proportion of individuals hibernating in either environment varies among years. Entire frog populations may hibernate on land if suitable water bodies are absent. Hibernation occurs from late September - beginning of November to February - May, depending on altitude. In the southern foothills, the frogs appear in pools in early February if the weather is warm or, in some cases, may be active throughout the winter. Reproduction occurs from February - late August, depending on weather and altitude, but usually in April - May. Amplexus is pectoral (axillary). Amplectant pairs can form in hibernation sites as well as just before spawning. The clutch contains 580-3500 eggs deposited in one clump. Metamorphosis occurs from late May to early October, but usually in June - July. At the same time, larval hibernation in cold, deep ponds is possible in the highlands. The duration of metamorphosis is generally longer in the highlands. Sexual maturity is attained in the 2nd-3rd year of life. The maximum longevity is estimated at 5-12 years in different populations.
Trends and Threats
Rana macrocnemis is a common and abundant amphibian species of the Caucasus as a whole, but in Russia it inhabits a relatively narrow area and its status is insufficiently known. On the Kopet-Dagh Ridge in Turkmenia, it is probably an endangered or extinct species.
Relation to Humans
Although the Iranian Long-Legged Frog often occurs in the neighborhood of human settlements, it is not known as a species regularly occurring there or possessing a high ability for synanthropization. Destruction and pollution of habitats by cattle has caused declines of some local populations of the this species. Anthropogenic deforestation (destruction of Juniperus woods) might have contributed to the increasing aridity of the Kopet-Dagh Mountains in Turkmenia and extinction of this amphibian there.
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants
The taxonomic situation with brown frogs of the Caucasus, Asia Minor and adjacent areas remains a matter for discussion. There are two forms of brown frogs differing in relative length of legs, body shape and some other morphological characters. They are often considered as separate species, R. macrocnemis and R. camerani, or subspecies R. macrocnemis macrocnemis and R. macrocnemis camerani, or a complex of forms of unknown composition. However, there are data against the specific and even subspecific status of R. camerani: both forms are isolated neither morphologically, nor geographically, nor reproductively. Their differences seem to reflect a highly developed polymorphism caused by genetic and ecological factors.
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Originally submitted by: Sergius L. Kuzmin (first posted 1999-11-10)
Edited by: Meredith J. Mahoney, JG (fixing maps 7/30/01) (2001-07-30)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2001 Rana macrocnemis: Iranian Long-Legged Frog <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/5084> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Sep 27, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 27 Sep 2023.
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