This species is known only from Mount Banahaw and Mount San Cristobal, on Luzon Island, in the Philippines. It occurs between 700–1,700 m asl (R. Brown pers. comm.). It is likely to be endemic to the massif (A. Diesmos pers. comm. March 2018) and its extent of occurrence (EOO) is 125 km2.
Habitat and Ecology
It inhabits arboreal microhabitats in mossy and montane rainforests. It breeds by direct development and deposits eggs in arboreal Asplenium bird’s nest ferns and Pandanus. Scheffers et al. (2014) recorded eggs from ca one in five ferns, whereas no eggs were found in randomly sampled microhabitats adjacent to bird's nest ferns.
It is common to very common at the type locality and the population appears to be stable at present. During May–October 2011, 18 individuals were recorded at Mt. Banahaw (Scheffers et al. 2014).
The immediate threats are limited since the species occurs in mid- to high-elevation montane forests, which are relatively less susceptible to deforestation and other human disturbance. The proposed road project in the Municipality of Tayabas reported in the previous 2004 assessment is no longer a future threat, and it is believed that the plans have ceased (A. Diesmos pers. comm. March 2018).
Mount Banahaw was formerly heavily impacted by religious pilgrims, tourists and trekkers who damaged the habitat by building campsites and leaving large amounts of waste, prompting access to be restricted to lower elevations since 2004 (Mallari 2016) to limit their impact. However, two fires in 2010 damaged 80 ha including portions of the protected area, and in 2014 pilgrims intruded into the park causing a large fire and destroying about 50 ha of forest and grassland, and other intrusions are documented by tourists posting photos of their hikes, so the threat of tourism has not completely disappeared (DENR 2014, Mayuga 2017).
Slash and burn agriculture from local communities may also be a problem at the edges of the national park, and may encroach into the park in the future (A. Diesmos pers. comm. March 2018). Although Scheffers et al. (2014) report that agricultural activities have already encroached into the forest on Mount Banahaw at elevations below 800 m asl, so this probably already poses a threat to the species in some areas despite the boundaries of the protected area extending to 600–700 m asl.
Furthermore, collection of aerial ferns and tree ferns as ornamentals represents a possible threat, as these plants are the preferred microhabitats for reproduction. It is expected that this species will be highly vulnerable to climate change impacts caused by desiccation of their fern microhabitats (Alcala et al. 2012).
It occurs in Mount Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape, established in 2009 (Republic of the Philippines 2009). Since the 2004 assessment, in collaboration with various regional academic institutions, NGO-led awareness campaigns have been taking place to educate the public regarding the need to protect remaining forests on Luzon Island, resulting in positive responses by local communities and improved protection for priority species. Furthermore, the protected area is now divided into two management units: the lower elevations allow limited public access with entrance fees and access to higher elevations are completely restricted (Mayuga 2017). This restriction began in 2004 and is enforced by the Filipino Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), which includes the sealing off of entry points and trails into the restricted areas; it was subsequently extended to 2012 (Senate of the Philippines 2009) and then to 2019 (Mallari 2016, Mayuga 2017), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has been considering permanently restricting public access to the mountain (DENR 2014).
Continued management of the national park, enforcement of protected area boundaries, and appropriate management practices (including more environmentally-friendly tourism practices, and limiting the collection of ferns) are required to safeguard the remaining habitat, as well as ongoing awareness campaigns to raise public support (A. Diesmos pers. comm. March 2018).
There is a need for continued monitoring of the population status of this species given that it is known only from this single site. More information is needed on this species' distribution, population status, ecology, and threats—specifically to confirm the ongoing practice of fern collection and the impact on the species.
Red List Status
Listed as Near Threatened because ongoing habitat-specific management practices restricting access to the higher elevations of the Mount Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape seem to be providing adequate habitat protection for the majority of the population, which is currently stable. The species is therefore conservation dependent. However, the collection of aerial ferns and tree ferns, agricultural encroachment into the forest, and tourism activities at lower elevations on the two mountains are considered projected future threats that could change the category of this species within five years of changes to or cessation of current protection and management practices resulting in the mid- to upper elevations being opened back up to tourism again. Should the collection of ferns be confirmed as ongoing despite current access restrictions, the threat of this possible activity should be re-evaluated and may required an update to the conservation status of this species.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2018. Platymantis banahao. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T17524A58473413. .Downloaded on 18 November 2018