This species is known from a few sites within Banco National Park (Rödel et al. 2009) and from the Tanoé swampy forests east of the Comoé River (M.O. Rödel pers. comm. December 2010, N.G. Kouamé pers. comm. December 2010), both in Côte d'Ivoire. It is likely to occur within the Mabi and Yaya forests of the intervening Alépé region (N.G. Kouamé pers. comm. December 2010). Individuals from Azagny National Park, 100 km west of Abidjan, and from southern Taï National Park, 350 km from the type locality, may be conspecific with this species (Rödel et al. 2009). However, these records require verification. The species may be fairly widespread below 300 m asl in remaining forests of eastern Côte d'Ivoire (M.O. Rödel pers. comm. December 2010). The species has an estimated extent of occurrence of 7,692 km2, including the population from Azagny.
Habitat and Ecology
This species occurs in and near lowland rainforest, and may be able to persist in forest edges and partially degraded areas (M.O. Rödel pers. comm. December 2010). The Banco population was found in a water filled rill (with clear, slow-flowing water and submerged vegetation) situated between swampy rainforest and a clearing containing stagnant pools used to breed exotic Tilapia (Rödel et al. 2009). Individuals sit at heights of 0.4-1.8 m on leaves of herbs and shrubs in swampy areas close to creeks and rivers (Rödel et al. 2009). Eggs are attached to leaves or roots a few cm above water, from where tadpoles drop into the water below and complete their development. Clutch size ranges from 30-144 eggs (Rödel et al. 2009).
This species is abundant where it occurs, but appears to be very patchily-distributed throughout its range (M.O. Rödel pers. comm. December 2010). This patchiness indicates a severely fragmented population, as this is a conspicuous frog that would have been detected more widely if it it were widespread within this area (N.G. Kouamé pers. comm. December 2010).
This frog's habitat is threatened by both subsistence and industrial-scale logging activities over more than 50% of its range (Rödel pers. comm. December 2010). Due to the close proximity of Banco National Park to Abidjan and poor enforcement of its protected status, this population is at high risk from habitat loss, air and water pollution resulting from urban development (Rödel et al. 2009, M.O. Rödel pers. comm. December 2010). Coastal areas around Abidjan may be at risk from development to support oil and gas exploration, and these activities may lead to significant declines in this species if they result in deforestation (N.G. Kouamé pers. comm. December 2010). The Tanoé swamp forests (covering 120 km2 within this species' range) have recently been targeted for conversion into palm plantations. Although this project is temporarily on hold, deforestation of this region may already be underway and plantation agriculture is likely to threaten other forests over almost 50% of this species' range (N.G. Kouamé pers. comm. December 2010).
This species occurs in Banco National Park, and possibly in other protected areas (Rödel et al. 2009, N.G. Kouamé pers. comm. December 2010). The Banco population is at high risk of extinction, and improved management of this park is recommended to ensure the species' persistence. The Tanoé swamp forests are presently unprotected, but have recently been the subject of a biodiversity assessment whose results may encourage protection of this heavily threatened area (N.G. Kouamé pers. comm. December 2010). More time is needed to conduct detailed impact assessments in this region (N.G. Kouamé pers. comm. December 2010). This species may be able to survive in palm plantations so long as pesticides are not used (N.G. Kouamé pers. comm. December 2010). Ongoing and planned amphibian surveys in the region, including those of sites east of the Comoé River, are likely to provide more information about this species' extent of occurrence and area of occupancy. More research is needed into its population status and threats, and also on the taxonomic status of populations from Azagny and Taï National Parks.
Red List Status
Listed as Vulnerable because its extent of occurrence is approximately 7,690 km2, it occurs as a severely fragmented population, and there is a continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat throughout both its known and inferred range.
So far, this is the only species in the recently erected genus Morerella (Rödel et al. 2009). The taxonomic status of the population from Azagny is uncertain (Rödel et al. 2009, N.G. Kouamé pers. comm. December 2010), and so it is included in this assessment only provisionally. The population reported from southern Taï National Park is known only from photographic evidence which has not been seen by the describing authors, and neither its taxonomic status nor its locality can be verified (N.G. Kouamé pers. comm. December 2010).
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2011. Morerella cyanophthalma. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T178176A7492701. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2011-1.RLTS.T178176A7492701.en .Downloaded on 15 December 2018