This species is known from the general region of the Sinharaja World Heritage site of southwestern Sri Lanka. Its elevational range is 513-1,270 m asl. It has been recorded from two threat-defined locations: 1) There are records from Morningside Forest Reserve, the nearby Handapan Ella Plains and western Sinharaja near Kudawa (Manamendra-Arachchi and Pethiyagoda 2005), and 2) it was recently observed in the Kanneliya Forest Reserve in the Kanneliya-Dediyagala-Nakiyadeniya complex of southern Sri Lanka, which extends the range beyond the region of the type locality in the Rakwana Massif (Bopage et al. 2011). These locations are geographically distinct and are embedded in a vast deforested matrix; the threat of habitat loss is driven by local factors and differs in intensity among sites. Its extent of occurrence (EOO) is estimated to be 330 km2, which is also taken as a proxy for area of occupancy (AOO) on the basis that the species is a habitat specialist and confined to forest habitat within an unsuitable land-use matrix.
Habitat and Ecology
It is found only in closed-canopy rainforest and cloud forests and in cardamom plantations within cloud forests. It is usually found close to streams or marshy areas. Adult males are usually perched about one metre above ground, on understorey shrubs (Manamendra-Arachchi and Pethiyagoda 2005), and it is often encountered perched in leaf clusters of Freycinetia sp. (Bopage et al. 2011). Breeding takes place by direct development and it is not dependent upon water.
It is generally considered to be a rare species. However, a recent survey produced observations of eight individuals over a two-hour period (M. Meegaskumbura pers. comm. 2014). There are no data to suggest population declines.
It is threatened by habitat loss due to agricultural encroachment (especially for tea and cardamom cultivation), human settlement and illegal logging. It is also at risk from agrochemical pollution. Forelimb malformations have been observed in this species, possibly attributable to infection or exposure to agrochemicals (de Silva 2011).
It is found in the Sinharaja World Heritage Site (the largest remnant of Sri Lanka's forests), and forest reserves bordering the eastern margin of the World Heritage Site. Much of the species range is encompassed by the Morningside Forest Reserve. This area receives some level of government protection, but is not an official conservation area (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). It is also known from the Kanneliya Forest Reserve (Bopage et al. 2011). Research is needed into its life history, population status and potential threats.
Red List Status
Listed as Endangered because its extent of occurrence (EOO) is estimated to be 330 km2, which is also taken as a proxy for area of occupancy (AOO) on the basis that the species is a habitat specialist and confined to forest habitat within an unsuitable land-use matrix. It is considered to occur in two threat-defined locations, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat in southwestern Sri Lanka.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2014. Pseudophilautus auratus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T58819A60785503. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-3.RLTS.T58819A60785503.en .Downloaded on 19 November 2018