This species is known from lower montane and cloud forest at 800-3,300m asl on both Pacific and Amazonian slopes of the Andes in Colombia and Ecuador. It occurs from southern Ecuador, to the three Cordilleras and the northern area from the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia. It is the most widespread Pristimantis in the Colombian Andes. The records from the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta might be in error.
Habitat and Ecology
It occurs in deforested and disturbed areas, next to streams or far from them, in cloud forest and sub-páramo habitats. It is tolerant of substantial habitat disturbance. It also occurs inside old-growth forest, but it is not very common. It perches on vegetation up to 3m above ground, during the day it can be found on fallen leaves. It breeds by direct development and the egg deposition occurs under rocks.
It is abundant in Colombia, although it has been declining in some localities in Ecuador. It appears to undergo population fluctuations. For example in Huacalito, the species ranged from common to absent to common over the course of six years. Populations in western Cundinamarca were common until the mid 1940s but have not been observed in numerous trips between the late 1960s and 2000. In Ecuador, it was previously abundant at many localities, although it has been recently found at sites such as Bosque Protector Cashca Totoras, Provincia Bolívar, Reserva Otonga (QCAZ database) it is not as common as in the past. (Bustamante 2002; L. Coloma pers. obs.)
Presumably extinctions in western Cundinamarca are a result of water pollution from Bogotá. It should be noted that some other species of Eleutherodactylus sensu lato that are associated with streams have undergone dramatic declines and disappearances, possibly due to chytridiomycosis, so the status of this species should be monitored carefully (the disappearances in western Cundinamarca appear to predate the appearance of chytridiomycosis as a threat to amphibians).
In Colombia because of its extensive distribution many of this species populations are inside protected areas: Munchique, Los Farallones, Las Orquideas, Tatama, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Cueva de los Guacharos, Las Hermosas, Los Nevados, and Purace National Natural Parks; La Planada Natural Reserve, and some areas that are in the process of being declared protected areas like Los Paraguas Mountains and Florencia forest. In Ecuador, its geographic range overlaps with Reserva Ecológica Cotacachi-Cayapas, Reserva Ecológica Cayambe-Coca, Reserva Ecológica Antisana, Reserva Geobotánica Pululahua, Parque Necional Cotopaxi, Reserva Ecológica Los Illinizas, Parque Nacional Llanganates, Parque Nacional Sangay, Reserva de Producción Faunística Chimborazo, and Area de Recreación Cajas.
Fernando Castro, Maria Isabel Herrera, Luis A. Coloma, Santiago Ron, John Lynch, Diego Cisneros-Heredia, Mario Yánez-Muñoz 2010. Pristimantis w-nigrum. In: IUCN 2014