This species is known from two neighbouring tepuis (table-top mountains) within the Cuyuni-Mazaruni District, Eastern Pantepui Region, Guiana Shield, northern South America. These localities are the Wei Assipu Tepui, at the border between Guyana and Brazil, and Mount Roraima in Guyana, at elevations between 2,210-2,305 m asl (Kok et al. 2011). Its area of occupancy (AOO) upon these tepuis is 1.41 km2 in total (1.08 km2 and 0.33 km2 respectively), with an estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) of 4.84 km2 when considering the range encompassing the two neighbouring tepuis.
Habitat and Ecology
It is found at high elevations upon tepui summits and upper slopes (table-top mountains) within the highlands of the Guianan shield (Kok et al. 2011). Vegetation upon the summit of Wei Assipu Tepui consists of coarse herbs mixed with woody shrubs on peat soils, some bogs, and large patches of dwarf forests that are dominated by Bonnetia roraimae (Theaceae). There is also a high abundance of terrestrial bromeliads (Brocchinia tatei and B. reducta), along with presence of Stegolepis guianensis (Rapateaceae), Orectanthe sceptrum (Xyridaceae), and Heliamphora nutans (Sarraceniaceae). This summit also exhibits a large number of fractures of varying size. The summit of Roraima is larger, and extremely rocky with sparse vegetation. The localities at which this species is recorded consist of similar vegetation to that described for Wei Assipu Tepui; however, the area at Roraima occurs on an inclined slope with rocky debris present.
Microhabitat preferences of this species are noted to be primarily within concealed areas, including between basal leaves of Orectanthe sceptrum (Xyridaceae) and Brocchinia tatei (Bromeliaceae). Observations have also been made however in more open microhabitats at night, including sitting on bare rock, and upon the branch of a small tree approximately 100 cm from the ground. Males of this species have been recorded calling at night, sequestered within plants among dense vegetation. Breeding occurs via direct development, with egg deposition recorded of around five eggs deposited within dead pitchers of pitcher plants (Heliamphora nutans; Sarraceniaceae), each of which was found to be growing within small humid crevices (Kok et al. 2011, P. Kok pers. comm. August 2013).
This species is abundant in the localities described; however, it is difficult to observe (Kok et al. 2011).
Expected temperature increases within the next century for the region are estimated to be between 2-4 oC (IPCC 2007). The high elevations of both tepuis upon which this species lives are at risk from the effects of global warming due to its influences on the tepui ecosystem. This has been shown through GIS-based Climate Envelope Distribution Models (CEDMs) via shrinking climate envelopes (Rödder et al. 2009) and particularly, the decrease in habitat suitability for plant diversity calculated using Species-Area Relationships (SAR) and Altitudinal Range Displacement (ARD) analysis (Nogué et al. 2009), with 80% of vascular Pantepui plants likely to be threatened (Nogué et al. 2009). This effect upon vegetation will of course lead to a loss of available habitat for tepui biodiversity as a whole. There is also an ongoing threat caused by anthropogenic fires, which have been known to affect tepuis in the surrounding Venezuelan savannah (P. Kok pers. comm. August 2013, Rull et al. in press). A synergy between these two key threats could occur, with a predicted decrease in precipitation for the region of up to 10% this century (IPCC 2007) enabling an increase in fire prevalence (Rull et al. in press). Moreover, the altitudinal range of Pristimantis aureoventris and many other tepui endemics allow little to no vertical migration in order to adapt to, or escape, these threats.
No conservation actions are currently known for this species. More information is needed on this species' distribution, population status, natural history and threats. The regulation of anthropogenic fires within Venezuela may be required to reduce their threat to tepui slopes and ecosystems, as despite this species not currently occurring within Venezuela, its known localities are within close proximity to the border and so may still be affected by these fires (P. Kok pers. comm. August 2013). It is also important to monitor and conduct further research in to the effects of global warming upon this biodiverse region.
Red List Status
Listed as Endangered because it is only known from two locations, and it has an area of occupancy (AOO) of 1.41 km2, with an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 4.84 km2. Moreover there is an inferred decline in its area of extent and quality of habitat due to the effects of global warming upon the tepui ecosystem, with expected temperature increases in the region through the next century of 2-4 oC (IPCC 2007). This rise in temperature will cause a decrease in habitat suitability for the existing plant communities (Nogué et al. 2009, Rödder et al. 2009), with 80% of vascular Pantepui plants likely to be threatened (Nogué et al. 2009). In addition, there is a continued presence of anthropogenic fires in the region (Rull et al. in press, P. Kok. pers. comm. August 2013), with a synergy between the two threats likely to occur as an up to 10% decrease in precipitation may occur (IPCC 2007), leading to an increase in fire range and intensity (Rull et al. In press). Furthermore, the altitudinal range of this frog allows little to no vertical migration in order to adapt to, or escape, these threats. This inability to migrate with changes in climate is a key threat to tepui summit vegetation (Rull and Vegas-Vilarrúbia 2006), and thus the faunal biodiversity associated with it. Both tepuis are considered here as individual threat-defined locations, as it is possible that climate change and fires could impact the tepuis differentially.
We follow Hedges et al. (2008), with the genus Pristimantis consisting of members within the South American Clade.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2014. Pristimantis aureoventris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T46086220A46086224. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-1.RLTS.T46086220A46086224.en .Downloaded on 11 December 2018