This species is known from only four threat-defined locations in the mountains of western Cameroon: the southern slopes of the Bamileke Plateau (at Mount Bana and Petit Diboum), Mount Nlonako and Mount Manengouba. It occurs between 950 and 1,850 m asl, though only up to 1,700 m asl on Mount Manengouba, above which it is replaced by Leptodactylodon erythrogaster. Using its range as a proxy, its extent of occurrence (EOO) is estimated to be 1,426 km
Habitat and Ecology
It lives in dense undergrowth in montane and lower montane forest, and in the dense herbage of Raffia Palm beds along streams. It can also survive in dense secondary forest habitats. The males call near pools and riffles in small streams, or in waterlogged humus near springs. It avoids rocky areas and breeds in small streams.
It is reported to be abundant on the southern and southeastern slopes of Mount Manengouba, but abundance information is not available for the other sites.
The major threat is increasing habitat loss as a result of agricultural encroachment, including plantations of tree crops; expanding human settlements; and removal of wood by local people for firewood and building materials.
On Mount Manengouba, trampling by livestock in the forest is a threat to this species and degrades its habitat; the use of herbicides and pesticides here is suspected to have long-term effects on the stream habitat, affecting the larval stage, and this threat is expected to increase as human activity in the area increases (N. Gonwouo pers. comm. June 2012). Deforestation on Mount Manengouba also occurs due to the unsustainable collection of bark from Prunus africanus, a high-elevation tree which occurs in the Cameroon highlands, by tree ringing. The tree's bark is used in small amount for medicinal purposes by local people. However, it is also sold to pharmaceutical companies in large amounts, in which case all the bark is removed from the individual trees resulting in their death. The consequence of the latter practice changes the microclimate required for the species' survival (N. Gonwouo pers. comm. May 2012). Furthermore, as with other high-elevation species, the species' habitat may be affected by climate change (N. Gonwouo pers. comm. May 2012); however, this necessitates further research.
It does not occur in any protected areas. The protected area network in western Cameroon urgently needs to be expanded to include the remaining montane forest habitats, particularly those on Mount Manengouba, which has been proposed as a protected area (N. Gonwouo pers. comm. May 2012). On Mount Manengouba, the harvesting of Prunus africanus should be sustainably managed, including education of the local people (N. Gonwouo pers. comm. May 2012). Across its range, more information is needed on the species' population status, natural history and the potential effects of climate change; monitoring is required to established the species' population trends.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, 2013. Leptodactylodon mertensi. In: IUCN 2014