This species is known only from the type locality at Morningside, in south-western Sri Lanka (Manamendra-Arachchi and Pethiyagoda 2005). It was recorded at an elevation of 1,270 m asl. It is probably restricted to this area, which is comprised of a single large forest remnant embedded in a deforested matrix. Its extent of occurrence (EOO) and area of occupancy (AOO) are estimated to be 2 km2.
Habitat and Ecology
The type specimen was collected from a branch about two metres above ground in a cardamom plantation surrounded by forest. It breeds by direct development and is not dependent on water.
It is known only from the holotype and it is believed to be a very rare species.
It is threatened by habitat loss due to agricultural encroachment (especially for tea and cardamom cultivation), fires, illegal gemstone mining and logging, and human settlement (Surasinghe and Jayaratne 2006). It is also at risk from agrochemical pollution.
The species is endemic to the Morningside Forest Reserve (Surasinghe and Jayaratne 2006). This area receives some level of government protection, but is not an official conservation area (Janzen and Bopage 2011, R. Pethiyagoda pers. comm. 2014). While the government has purchased much of the land around Morningside, there is still pressure from land use within the reserve; a tea/cardamom plantation operates at the centre of the reserve and there is illegal clearing of understory to establish small parcels for cardamom cultivation (R. Pethiyagoda pers. comm. 2014). There is need for improved protection of the area, and incorporation of Morningside into the contiguous Sinharaja World Heritage Site would help prevent future loss of remaining forest habitat (R. Pethiyagoda pers. comm. 2014). Research is needed to better understand its life history, population status and current threats. In particular, surveys are needed to confirm its persistence at Morningside and to determine where other remnant subpopulations may occur.
Red List Status
Critically Endangered (CR)
Listed as Critically Endangered because its extent of occurrence (EOO) and area of occupancy (AOO) are estimated to be 2 km2, it is known only from the type locality, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat in Morningside, Sri Lanka.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2014. Pseudophilautus papillosus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T58885A60794336. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-3.RLTS.T58885A60794336.en .Downloaded on 19 February 2019