Eastern spadefoot

Pelobates syriacus


Лукова жаба



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Not evaluated Data deficient Least concern Near threatened VULNERABLE Endangered Critically endangered Extinct in the wild Extinct
Assessment info
Habitat and Ecology
Use and Trade
Conservation Actions


Scientific name

Pelobates syriacus


Boettger, 1889


Pelobates transcaucasicus Delwig, 1928

Assessment info

IUCN Red List Category and Criteria

VU – Vulnerable, B2ab(i,ii,iii,iv)c(ii,iii,iv)

Date assessed

November 2019


Bogoljub Sterijovski

Dragan Arsovski


Crnobrnja-Isailović, J.




Hofman, M.P.G.


Habitat loss has caused reductions in area of occupancy (AOO = 244 km²), as well as fluctuations in this parameter due to the sporadic disappearance of their reproductive centres during the breeding season (particularly evident around Monospitovo marsh, the coastal areas of Prespa Lake, as well as around Cheshinovo – Obleshevo, Kochani and Vinica).
Due to droughts and habitat shifting caused by climate change the continuing declines and extreme fluctuations are observed in area of occupancy and quality of habitat, number of locations. This contributes to populations’ severe fragmentation within the country. Nevertheless, the species is quite widely distributed nationally (extent of occurrence = 15.892 km²) and regional rescue effects could aid national populations, thus it has been assessed as Vulnerable. Globally and in Europe this species has been assessed as Least Concern.


Current population trend



This species is considered common in suitable habitats in North Macedonia. Nevertheless, preliminary monitoring studies indicate a declining population trend, nationally (unpublished data) and possible fragmentation.

Habitat and Ecology


Terrestrial|Freshwater (=Inland waters)

Habitat and Ecology

Terrestrial habitats occupied are generally open uncultivated and cultivated lands such as light forests, steppe (and steppe-like habitats), semi-desert and rocky areas. In terms of soil preference, inhabiting not only soft soils suitable for a fossorial life (although they are preferred), but also solid, rocky soils, particularly friable clay with pebbles.  It can occur in slightly modified areas, including intensively grazed areas. It is a mainly nocturnal species thus usually found in the evening hours near aquatic systems. Favored diet is made up of mollusks, spiders and other small arthropods. It can dig its own burrows but also uses holes from rodents or hides under a rocks. The Eastern Spadefoot is active from beginning of March in the southern parts and mid-March in the southweteren parts until beginning of October. Reproduction starts in beginning of April in the southern parts and mid-April in the southwestern parts. Water ditches and ponds are favored locations for reproduction where up to several thousand eggs can be laid in stripes of gelatinous material that can be 1 meter long. Spawning sites include stagnant temporary water bodies; river or lakeside temporary water bodies and large permanent pools.

Use and trade

Use and trade

There is no confirmed use and trade of this species in N. Macedonia.



According to Sterijovski (2014) modification and fragmentation of habitats, especially at reproductive centers, has been a historical threat that remains today as well. It is generally threatened by habitat loss through drainage or loss of breeding wetlands and conversion of land for agricultural and industrial use. This is particularly true for the Strumica, Kocani and Prespa regions. Fragmented populations are susceptible to extinction through population fluctuations, especially within arid landscapes.

Climate change can endanger the species’ refugia such as Taor Gorge and Ohrid-Prespa region (Ministry Environment and Physical Planning, 2003b). Climate change can cause changes in area of occupancy, particularly in the warmer parts of its distribution in the south east of the country (e.g. Radovis, Strumica and Dojran regions).

Fungal threats coused Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans were recently detected in the Balkan Peninsula. These cause the disease known as  Chytridiomycosis (Whittaker and Vredenburg, 2016in amphibians. Studies have shown that climate change facilitates the spread of this disease (Pounds, A. 2006), and scientist suggest that pesticides may inhibit the innate immune defense, and increase susceptibility to this disease (Davidson et al. 2007). This calls for urgent preventative matters, primarily in the form of monitoring so that initial signs of the fungus in North Macedonia are caught timely and quarantined.

Conservation actions

Conservation actions

The species is listed on Appendix II of the Bern Convention and on Annex IV of the EU Birds & Habitats Directive. It is protected by national legislation as it is on the list of the protected wild species of N. Macedonia (Official gazette No.139. 2011). Appropriate habitat management is needed to maintain wetlands and prevent succession to scrub and woodland. Life-history trait variation should be monitored against variation in threats and pressures.

According to the “Strategy for biodiversity of Republic of North Macedonia” (Ministry of environment and physical planning, 2019) swamps, particularly high-altitude swaps are affected by degradation as a result of land conversion due to the intensification of agriculture, water supply shortage, irrigation, fish stocking, lack of waste water treatment and construction activities. Action plans for the conservation of this toad’s reproductive centers, i.e. wetlands are urgently needed.

The national action for the “prevention of loss, degradation and fragmentation of natural habitats of national and international importance” prioritizes the following actions (National biodiversity strategy and action plan, 2018):

o   10.4 Protection and restoration of swamp habitats/wetlands and riparian habitats

o   10.4.1 Identification of the most affected lowland swamps/wetlands and preparation of action plans for their conservation

o   10.4.2 Identification of the most affected high-altitude swamps/wetlands and preparation of action plans for their conservation

o   10.4.3 Development of a plan and implementation of activities for the prevention of swamp and wetland degradation due to intensification of agriculture, irrigation, fish stocking and other activities of the economic sectors

o   10.4.4 Implementation of pilot measures for the restoration of wetlands



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Ministry of environment and physical planning 2018 National biodiversity strategy and action plan : for the period 2018 – 2023. Ministry of environment and physical planning. Skopje . p.183.

Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning. 2003b .Biodiversity strategy and action plan for the Republic of Macedonia. Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning. Skopje. p. 134.

Whittaker, Kellie & Vredenburg, Vance. 2016 .”An Overview of Chytridiomycosis”
Pounds, A. 2006 Widespread Amphibian Extinctions from Epidemic Disease Driven by Global Warming . p. 161-167.

Davidson, C., Benard, M.F., Shaffer, H.B., Parker, J.M., O’Leary, C., Conlon, J.M., Rollins-Smith, L.A. 2007. Effects of chytrid and carbaryl exposure on survival, growth and skin peptide defenses in foothill yellow-legged frogs . p. 1771-1776.

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Uğurtaş, I. H., Ljubisavljević, K., Sidorovska, V., Kalezić, M. L., Džukić, G. 2002. Morphological differentiation of eastern spadefoot toad (Pelobates syriacus) populations . p. 13-32.