This species has previously been reported as ranging from Guinea to northern and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. In the central African part of its range, it occurs in the south of Cameroon but does not extend as far north as the Adamawa Plateau, and it occurs on Bioko Island in Equatorial Guinea. It occurs up to 1,200 m asl in Cameroon.
However, there is considerable doubt about the taxonomic identity of the subpopulations in western Africa (Liberia, Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana), that have been identified as this species in the past, and it is extremely likely that they belong to new, undescribed Arthroleptis species (Rödel and Bangoura 2004, Ernst et al. 2008, Blackburn et al. 2009, Rödel et al. 2009).
Habitat and Ecology
This species lives among leaf litter in lowland and montane rainforest. Although it can live in secondary vegetation, it is found principally in primary rainforest especially at the foot of mountains in Cameroon. It breeds by direct development and is not dependent on water.
This is the most common species of this genus around Yaoundé, and there have been reports of 20 individuals being seen on the forest floor in a single morning. It apparently attains its greatest abundance at 400–1,200 m asl. Due to ongoing decline in the extent and quality of habitat, the population is suspected to be decreasing.
The major threat to the habitat within this species range is forest loss and degradation caused by agricultural clearing, logging and expanding human settlements.
This species has been recorded from Crystal Mountain, Ivindo, Moukalaba-Doudou and Pongara National Parks in Gabon (Pauwels and Rödel 2007).
Further taxonomic research is required to verify the identity of the western African subpopulations which will help to determine the true distribution of this species.
Red List Status
Least Concern (LC)
Listed as Least Concern, despite the taxonomic uncertainty of the subpopulations in West Africa, in view of its wide distribution and presumed large population.
In West Africa, at least two species are included under this name (M.-O. Rödel pers. comm.). It is very likely that all subpopulations in western African, from Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Ghana, are distinct from those in central Africa and will be described as new species or assigned to other species in the future (Rödel and Bangoura 2004, Ernst et al. 2008, Blackburn et al. 2009).
It is also thought that all records of this species west of Nigeria are misidentifications (Rödel et al. 2009).
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2018. Arthroleptis variabilis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T54391A18365650. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-1.RLTS.T54391A18365650.en .Downloaded on 24 January 2019