This species occurs from the lowlands of the Padano Venetian plain of northern Italy and southern Switzerland (where it is restricted to a small area in Kanton Ticino), east to the Triestine and Istrian regions of north-eastern Italy, with a few sites in Slovenia and Croatia. It is present from sea level up to around 500m asl, but sites at higher elevations are unusual.
Habitat and Ecology
The original habitat of this species is semi-hygrophilous forest; in secondary habitats it is associated with humid deciduous wooded areas, typically situated alongside small streams, rivers, or lakes, with rich vegetation. It is present in poplar plantations with thick understorey and occasionally meadows (Arnold 2002). It hibernates on land (where it may occur up to a kilometre from water: Arnold 2002), and also under the mud of stream beds. The species breeds in permanent and temporary water in wooded areas, usually including slow-moving rivers. It can occur in anthropogenic habitats such as agricultural irrigation ditches, but only if these are close to forest remnants for over wintering (Garner pers. comm.).
It is relatively abundant along some northern tributaries of the Po River, with a few sites existing along southern tributaries. It is occasional and localized in north-western Italy being more common in north-eastern areas. Some of the breeding sites in Switzerland can contain hundreds of individuals. It is considered rare in Slovenia. Populations of the species are generally larger in the eastern parts of its range and population genetic diversity decreases sharply from east to west by a factor of three (populations located in the western part of the distribution have severely reduced genetic diversity as measured at microsatellite loci, while populations located in the east do not; T. Garner pers. comm.). Most populations are severely fragmented.
This species is threatened by the destruction of much of the original humid deciduous forests of the Padano Venetian plain and Istrian region by extensive agricultural development including drainage and deforestation (with population fragmentation). Additional threats to this species are the introduction of predatory fishes and crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), lowering of the water table, and aquatic pollution. Crayfish predation has driven one isolated subpopulation to disappear. The reduced genetic diversity in western populations might be leading to greater vulnerability to emergent pathogens (T. Garner pers. comm.).
It is present in several protected areas across its range. It is listed on Appendix II of the Bern Convention, and is listed on Annex II and IV of the EU Habitats Directive. It is protected by national legislation in Italy, Switzerland and Slovenia and has been recorded in a number of national and Red Data books and lists.
Red List Status
Listed as Vulnerable because its Area of Occupancy is less than 2,000 km2, its distribution is severely fragmented, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat in northern Italy.
Roberto Sindaco, Antonio Romano, Franco Andreone, Trent Garner, Benedikt Schmidt, Claudia Corti, Milan Vogrin 2009. Rana latastei. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T19156A8845034. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2009.RLTS.T19156A8845034.en .Downloaded on 14 November 2018