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Western Palearctic water frogs

Peter Beerli *
The western palearctic water frogs are a group of frogs which are mostly water-bound and commonly found in ponds and rivers throughout Europe, northern Africa and the western parts of Asia.
        ,==================== Rana saharica
     |  `==================== Rana perezi
     |  ,==================== Rana epeirotica
     |  |  
     |  |  ,================= Rana shqiperica
     |  |  |  
<<===|  |  |  ,============== Rana lessonae
     |  |  |  |  
     `==|  |  |  ,=========== Rana cretensis
        `==|  |  |  
           `==|  |  ,======== Rana cerigensis
              `==|  |  
                 `==|  ,===== Rana bedriagae
                       `===== Rana ridibunda
                       ?===== Rana terentievi

Containing clade(s): Palearctic water frogs (subgenus Pelophylax)

Table of Contents

Discussion of phylogeny
Sources of Information on the Internet

Discussion of phylogeny

The systematics of this groups is complicated by common hybrids (see on water frog home page: hybrids). Because morphological characters are not very discriminating between species, most populations were lumped into one taxon Rana ridibunda. With the use of molecular methods the number of species increased strongly, and most new species are removed from this heterogenous taxon. The shown phylogeny has still uncertainties about positions of some clades, because there exists more than one most parsimonious tree. An alternative view gives the following tree (using 31 electrophoretic loci and the program CONTML of the PHYLIP package of Joe Felsenstein). the trees does not include Rana terentievi, because we had no samples of it, but looking through its description we believe that it must be a sister taxon to the ridibunda clade.


Western Palearctic water frogs are very common throughout of Europe, the Middle East. The probably most southern populations are found in Jemen, the most eastern in Tadschijkistan or even western China, the most northern population are found in southern Sweden.

Sources of Information on the Internet


Beerli, P., H. Hotz, and T. Uzzell. Geologically dated sea barriers 
          calibrate an average protein clock in water frogs of the 
          Aegean region. Evolution 50(4):1676-1687.
Beerli, P. 1994. Genetic isolation and calibration of an average 
          protein clock in western Palearctic water frogs of 
          the Aegean region. Thesis Universität Zü:rich.
          [there are still copies available, send a request to

Title Illustration

Group of calling males of Rana lessonae

Photographs copyright 1995, Thomas Uzzell.

About this page

Peter Beerli

e-mail: beerli@csit.fsu.edu.
Genetics 357360
University of Washington
Seattle WA 98195-7360

Page copyright 1995 Peter Beerli
Reset of the visit counter: 10 Jan 1997

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