Language: Bilingual in English and Italian
Based on bibliographic data and unpublished observations the authors have supplied an outline of the various aspects of the ecology and natural history of and preservation initiative for the Italian spadefoot, Pelobates fuscus insubricus, an endemic subspecies of the Po Valley. The Italian spadefoot has a distribution pertained originally to all of northern Italy, but at present findings have been sporadic, mainly due to the growing anthropization and the alteration of its habitats. For this reason it was listed in the Red Data Book of the lUCN. The sites known and confirmed are located in Piedmont (and some of them are in relatively disturbed areas and in the provinces of Turin and Novara), in Lombardy and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The biology of the Pelobates fuscus insubricus shows aspects that are similar to that of Pelobates fuscus fuscus (distributed in central-eastern Europe) but differs from it some of its adaptation to a more arid climate, and its shorter reproduction period from March to May. The tadpoles become large (approx. 120 mm), but are, in any case, smaller than those of Pelobates fuscus fuscus. The vocalizations, found in both sexes, are different from those of the nominative subspecies, but we do not know if such differences are of a taxonomic nature, or if they depend on the geographic distance between the two populations. The protection initiatives included various breeding centres (for the purpose of reintroducing the animals into suitable areas), and the creation of a protected area in the Novara province.