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Ranitomeya benedicta

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AMPHIBIA ANURA DENDROBATIDAE

Scientific Name: Ranitomeya benedicta
Species Authority: Brown, Twomey, Pepper, & Sanchez Rodriguez, 2008
Common Name(s):
English Blessed Poison Frog
Taxonomic Notes: This species was formerly classified as Ranitomeya fantastica (Brown et al. 2008).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B1ab(iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2013-06-14
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Luedtke, J.
Contributor(s): Pascual Cuadras, A., Angulo, A., Roelke, C., Brown , J. & Cox, N.A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Angulo, A. & Jarvis, L.
Justification:
Listed as Vulnerable because of its estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) of 19,000 km², considered to occur in six threat-defined locations, and there being a continuing decline in the area and quality of its habitat in northeastern Peru, as well as a decline in the number of mature individuals due to harvesting for the international pet trade.
History:
2011 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is distributed throughout the lowland forests of Pampas del Sacramento, in San Martín and Loreto regions, northeastern Peru (Brown et al. 2008, Brown et al. 2011). The Pampas del Sacramento are bound by the Cordillera Azul and Río Huallaga to the west, Río Ucayali to the east, and the flooded forests of Pacaya-Samiria to the north (J.L. Brown and E. Twomey pers. comm. July 2011). Its extent of occurrence (EOO), taking into account both known and projected sites, is estimated to be 19,000 km² (but note that the depicted range refers to known sites, calculated at 8,304 km2), and it is considered to occur in six threat-defined locations (J.L. Brown pers. comm. July 2011). It can be found at elevations between 150–405 m asl (Brown et al. 2008).
Countries:
Native:
Peru
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It appears to be widely distributed yet difficult to find in the lowland forests of the Pampas del Sacramento (Brown et al. 2008). For example, von May et al. (2008) reported that 14 individuals were found over the course of 68 person/days in 2008. It seems to have a patchy distribution, but in some areas it seems to be locally abundant (Brown et al. 2008). It appears to live in fragmented habitat patches and the species is considered to have a poor dispersal ability (J.L. Brown pers. comm. February 2013). It is suspected, based on its association with arboreal habitat, that some of the subpopulations may be undergoing declines due to human-induced deforestation (J.L. Brown pers. comm. February 2013).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It inhabits only older secondary and primary lowland rainforests (J.L. Brown and E. Twomey pers. comm. July 2011). It is often found around fallen trees and tangled branches (J.L. Brown and E. Twomey pers. comm. July 2011), and anecdotal reports have suggested that this species may be highly arboreal: farmers and loggers report this species leaping from bromeliads when trees are felled (Brown et al. 2008). It is diurnal and, at least partially, a terrestrial species, where reproduction (clutches of 4–6 eggs) has been observed within the humid leaf litter. Tadpoles are then transported to water-filled bromeliads, where they complete development (Brown et al. 2008). It is not found in areas disturbed by human activity (Brown et al. 2008).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species was smuggled for the international pet trade in 2007 and 2008 and legally exported in 2009 by Understory Enterprises (J.L. Brown and E. Twomey pers. comm. July 2011; J.L. Brown pers. comm. August 2011).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): It occurs in areas that are being actively farmed and logged, primarily for subsistence farming, logging and agroindustry (J.L. Brown pers. comm. July 2011), which will reduce the amount of suitable habitat substantially over the coming years (Brown et al. 2008). While it appears that much of its habitat is undisturbed, it is estimated that between 5–15% of subpopulations are currently being impacted by human-induced deforestation, possibly leading to slow declines (J.L. Brown pers. comm. July 2011, February 2013). In addition, it has recently (2007) been illegally exported for the international pet trade, with legally-acquired individuals recorded in 2009 (J.L. Brown and E. Twomey pers. comm. July 2011). The projection that there will be a high demand for this species in the pet trade (Brown et al. 2008) seems to be confirmed in the area surrounding Shucushuyacu, where smuggling pressure has increased considerably, to such an extent that no individuals have been seen in the wild in this area since the species was described (J.L. Brown pers. comm. July 2011). It is suspected that local inhabitants may be felling trees to collect these frogs for the black market, impacting not only this species but others that share the same environment (J.L. Brown pers. comm. July 2011).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is not known to occur in any protected areas, and given land use change and habitat loss, habitat protection is needed. Its range does overlap with Cordillera Azul National Park, but its presence here needs to be verified. More information is needed on this species' distribution, population status and level of trade, and legislation and enforcement of legislation are needed to address the issue of illegal trade. CITES does not recognize Ranitomeya benedicta and R. summersi as separate species, so they are treated as subpopulations of Dendrobates fantasticus in Appendix II of CITES.

Citation: IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2014. Ranitomeya benedicta. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 25 October 2014.
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