Global warming threatens endangered Taurus frogs in Türkiye | Daily Sabah – Daily Sabah
The distinctive and critically endangered Taurus frog endemic to Türkiye is in danger due to catastrophic habitat loss brought on by a variety of reasons, including climate change.
There is a wide range of diverse fauna in Türkiye, which is home to many rare and endemic species due to its climate and geography.
Mert Karis, an expert on herpetology, the branch of zoology focused on reptiles and amphibians, explains that the first example of the species was discovered over 120 years ago around the Karagöl and Çiniligöl lakes in the Bolkar Mountains.
According to Karis, the Taurus frog, which goes by the scientific name Rana holtzi, is a subspecies of the Uludağ frog, also known as Rana macrocnemis, and was first described by Austrian scientist Franz Werner in 1898. Later, after extensive studies, it was determined that the Taurus frog is actually a new species rather than a subspecies.
According to Karis, who is also a lecturer at Nevşehir Hacı Bektaş Veli University, the rare species exclusively inhabits regions of Niğde province that are 2,500-3,000 meters (8,202-9,842 feet) above sea level and a few small ponds located within the boundaries of Mersin province.
Regarding the hazards to the species, he emphasized the danger of lakes and ponds drying up in the hot summer. “The Taurus frog must complete the breeding process in the water until this drying time, and the larvae have to go terrestrial and go through their metamorphosis,” he explained, warning that otherwise, there is a danger that the species will be completely wiped out in Karagöl and Çiniligöl.
“The first reason for this concern is climate change-related global warming, as warming weather predominantly harms animals that live in cold and cool locations because there is a temperature range that such creatures are accustomed to,” Karis said.
According to the expert, the unnatural release of carps by locals in the 1990s in Karagöl and Çiniligöl led to a significant problem for Taurus frogs in the early 2000s because carps enjoy eating Taurus frog eggs. He said that later on, thanks to conservation measures and various initiatives undertaken by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Türkiye (TÜBITAK), the number of carp in these lakes drastically dropped.
Removing the non-native species from lakes is possible with more thorough efforts, according to Karis, who also listed off-road driving, trekking, camping and rock climbing as other factors that harm the species and its habitats.
The Turkish expert warned that all of these activities must be carried out in accordance with specified regulations, particularly during the awakening period when the frogs emerge from their winter hibernation.
On the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of endangered species, the Taurus frog is classified as “CR” (critically endangered). Karis added that safeguarding the waters where these frogs live and preventing pollution in the area are the most important measures for the conservation of the species.
He emphasized that the species is also essential for ecotourism as many foreign tourists come to watch and photograph it.
He estimated that there are still about 50,000 Taurus frogs in the wild, distributed among five or six communities.