This species was previously only recorded from the Pacific slopes from Chimalapas area in Oaxaca through to Sierra Madre in Chiapas, Mexico and along the highlands of southwestern Guatemala. It is now also known from Nahá Biosphere Reserve in northeastern Chiapas, Mexico (Ochoa-Ochoa and Whittaker 2014), La Unión, Zacapa Department, eastern Guatemala (C. Vasquez pers. comm. 2016) and from Lempira, Ocotepeque and Copán Departments in Honduras (Wilson and McCranie 2003, McCranie 2006, Townsend et al. 2008, Solis et al. 2014). It occurs at elevations between 900-2,000 m asl.
Habitat and Ecology
This species inhabits pine-oak, cloud and tropical rain forests. It is closely associated with low vegetation and abundant leaf litter along small mountain streams. It lays eggs in small permanent and cold rivers, which develop in free-living larvae (Ochoa-Ochoa and Whittaker 2014). It has been recently encountered even in heavily contaminated rivers in western Guatemala (M. Acevedo pers. comm. 2016), although survival rate at these breeding sites has not been evaluated. Moreover, it is present in many coffee farms along the Guatemala's Pacific coast (C. Vasquez pers. comm. 2016).
This species is one of the most common stream-breeders in Guatemala, especially at some localities along the Pacific coast such as Volcan Tajumulco and other areas around San Marcos, Suchitepequez and La Unión, Zapaca (M. Acevedo and C. Vasquez pers. comm. 2016). It is also common in Chiapas, Mexico. The population has a naturally disjunct distribution, but is believed to be stable.
The major threat to this species is habitat loss and disturbance due to agriculture, logging, and human settlement (Wilson and McCranie 2003). These threats are in place also in several of the protected areas the species occurs within, because of a lack of management and monitoring (M. Acevedo and L. Wilson pers. comm. 2016). Chytridiomycosis is considered a threat since high levels of Bd infections have been detected in this species (Muñoz 2010) and is known to have severely affected other species in this genus (J. Kolby pers. comm. 2016). However, adults of this species seems to be relatively resistant to Bd infection and could potentially mediate the spreading of the fungus to new areas and among other species (Cheng et al. 2011). However, despite some resistence in adults, younger life stages of this species are thought to be highly susceptible to the fungus, and the severity of the infection is mostly dependent on the Bd strain and density that the individuals are exposed to and on climate conditions, so monitoring of the infection is required, in particular in tadpoles and newly metamorphosed frogs (J. Kolby pers. comm. 2016).
In Mexico it is present in several communal conservation areas in the Chimalapas Region in Oaxaca and in Chiapas it occurs in the Reserva de la Biósfera La Sepultura, Area de Protección Forestal La Frailescana, Reserva de la Biósfera El Triunfo, Zona Sujeta a Conservación Ecológica Pico El Loro-Paxtal, the Reserva de la Biosfera Volcan Tacaná and the Nahá Biosphere Reserve (Ochoa-Ochoa and Whittaker 2014). It could be present in some of the intervening areas between known localities along the Sierra Madre de Chiapas (Johnson et al. 2015). In Guatemala the distribution of this species includes several protected areas (i.e. Sierra Caral Amphibian Reserve), including private ones (M. Acevedo pers. comm. 2016). In Honduras it is present at Parque Nacional Cerro Azul and possibly in other reserves in the northern and southern cordillera (Wilson and McCranie 2003).
Further habitat protection is required.
Research is needed on its population size and distribution, natural history and threats. In light of this species' naturally fragmented population and threats, a monitoring program to follow population trends, inside and outside protected areas, is also needed.
Red List Status
Least Concern (LC)
Listed as Least Concern in view of its relatively wide distribution, tolerance of a degree of habitat modification and presumed large population. However, its population is considered to be naturally fragmented, there in ongoing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat, and considerable levels of chytridiomycosis have been reported for this species, which might affect in particular its younger life stages. This species should therefore be carefully monitored throughout its entire range.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2016. Plectrohyla matudai. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T55880A53960697. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T55880A53960697.en .Downloaded on 20 January 2019