This species is currently known only from 1,850–2,400 m Asl in Lai Chau Province, northwestern Viet Nam (Orlov and Ho 2007). This is unlikely to represent the actual limits of the species' range as similar habitat and elevations to those in its known and presumed localities occur in adjacent parts of Lao Cai Province in Viet Nam as well as Yunnan Province, China. Further surveys in these areas may uncover its presence there, therefore its range has been projected beyond known sites to include these areas of suitable habitat. The species' estimated EOO is 8,573 km2, which represents five threat-defined locations.
Habitat and Ecology
This species is associated with waterfall sections of streams within high-altitude mixed montane forest (Orlov and Ho 200, Rao and Wilkinson 2007). Areas of forest that the species appears to prefer are characterized by heavy mist and very frequent rain even during the region's typically dryer season (Orlov and Ho 2007). Adults of the species spend the day time hidden in rock crevices and emerge at night, when they have been observed on rocks adjacent to the streams (Orlov and Ho 2007). Reproduction presumably occurs around March-May (Orlov and Ho 2007, Rao and Wilkinson 2007) when males have been observed calling from vertical rock surfaces (Orlov and Ho 2007). A juvenile and several pairs in amplexus have been observed at this time also (Orlov and Ho 2007). The larvae of this species are unknown, but are presumably free-living and aquatic as is the case with other Amolops for which the reproductive strategy is better documented. This species has not been observed in disturbed areas, but the quality of habitat within parts of its range appears to be in decline due to past fire, agriculture (Nguyen and Harder 1996) and tourism (Rowley et al. 2013).
Little is known about the size or trends of this species' population except during the only survey during which it has been definitively detected, one to six adult individuals were observed on each rocky wall around waterfalls within the survey area (Orlov and Ho 2007). Population declines are expected to have occurred in this species due to burning, agriculture (Nguyen and Harder 1996) and possibly climate change, as has been suggested for similarly high elevation species nearby (Rowley et al. 2013, Foster 2001).
The historic burning and subsequent ecosystem conversion of the summit of Mount Fansipan and adjacent areas to agricultural land, which are thought to have been previously covered in forest (Nguyen and Harder 1996), is likely to have impacted on this species' populations. Current agricultural pressures include a cardamom farm, which is causing declines in the quality of its habitat (T. Nguyen pers. comm. December 2015). Habitat degradation associated with tourism is ongoing in one section of its predicted range (Rowley et al. 2013); the construction of a cable car from Sa Pa to the summit of Mount Fansipan (T. Nguyen pers. comm. 2015) may affect the species. This species' restriction to high altitudes is likely to present an issue as tropical montane forests are expected to be particularly prone to alteration by climate change (Rowley et al. 2013, Foster 2001). While there are currently no records of this species being traded, its attractive form and colouration may lend it to susceptibility to over-harvest for the pet trade, as has occurred with similarly attractive amphibian species from the region (Stuart et al. 2006, Rowley et al. 2010).
This species is not known from any protected area, but Jinpingfenshuiling Nature Reserve in China and Hoang Lien Son National Park in Viet Nam are included within the species' predicted range.
In order to ensure this species' long-term survival, the lack of data must be addressed.
Research should be carried out to determine its distribution, relative abundance, life history, potential trade, and threats. Additionally, resolving the taxonomy of the species, particularly in regards to its potential synonymy with Amolops caelumnoctis is urgently needed.
Red List Status
Listed as Vulnerable as this species has an estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) of only 8,573 km2, is known from only five threat-defined locations, and is facing a continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat.
Amolops splendissimus and A. caelumnoctis appear to be synonyms for the same species (R. Bain pers. comm. 2009). Until their taxonomic status is resolved, we herein treat both as valid species.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2017. Amolops splendissimus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T159251A86571792. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-2.RLTS.T159251A86571792.en .Downloaded on 11 December 2018