This species is known from just three localities in Jerusalem and the adjacent Judean Hills in Israel and the Palestinian territories: Mamilla Reservoir; the Wadi near Moza; and Ein Fara. This implies a geographic range with a west-east stretch of 13km and a north-south extent of 6 km (Grach et al. 2007). However, information from C. Grach (pers. comm.) casts doubt on whether or not the specimens from Wadi and Ein Fara really originated from these two localities - it is possible that they too came from the Mamilla Reservoir. The species might therefore be known from a single site, though all three are included in the distribution map.
Habitat and Ecology
The Mamilla reservoir is an ancient cistern excavated in limestone which dries out in the summer months, and is 6m deep at its deepest point. Ein Fara in the Judaean desert is a spring-fed pool, with ample vegetation dominated by Typha australis. The frogs sit on the Typha stalks. The Wadi at Moza has a water depth of greater than 1m, with tangled vegetation dominated by the spiny bush Rubus sanctus, on which the frogs sit. The Mamilla reservoir and the Wadi near Moza lie within the Mediterranean region (sensu stricto) with average annual precipitation of 500-700mm, and average annual temperatures of 17-19ºC. The third locality, Ein Fara, is an oasis-like spring habitat on the fringe of the Judean Desert, with average annual precipitation fluctuating widely around 300 mm, and average annual temperatures around 19-21ºC. Hyla heinzsteinitzi is sympatric with Hyla savignyi and in some places the two are apparently syntopic. The species breeds by larval development in temporary pools.
The species no longer exists in any of the three listed localities from which it has been recorded (C. Grach, pers. comm.). At the Mamilla Reservoir, suitable habitat no longer exists. At present there is no locality where the species is still known to exist (C. Grach, pers. comm.). The species is certainly gravely endangered, and might be Extinct (C. Grach, pers. comm.). Attempts to locate other populations of the species have not been successful.
The tiny range of Hyla heinzsteinitzi, and the lack of connectivity between its isolated sites place it at considerable risk. The confirmed site at the Mamilla Reservoir has been destroyed, and no suitable habitat remains there (C. Grach, pers. comm.).
All amphibians are legally protected in Israel, but this does not mean that the sites in which they occur are protected. Indeed, the habitat at the only confirmed site has been destroyed (C. Grach, pers. comm.). The site at Ein Fara is protected, but there is some doubt as to whether or not the species was ever found there. There was formerly a breeding stock in captivity, but this was confiscated and it is believed that all the animals subsequently died. Surveys are needed to determine whether or not any other populations of this species exist. Research is also needed to determine it conservation requirements should any populations be found.
Constantin Grach, Yehudah Werner 2008. Hyla heinzsteinitzi. In: IUCN 2014