This species is known only from the type locality (vereda el Llano, Department of Tolima, Municipality of Falán, Cordillera Central of Colombia) on the eastern flank of the Cordillera Central, Department of Tolima, Colombia. Specimens were collected at an elevation of about 1,852 m asl (Bernal et al. 2007). It appears to occur in a single forest fragment that does not exceed 0.5 km
Habitat and Ecology
The type locality of the species is a small patch of a secondary forest dominated by trees with a maximum height of four to six metres, covered by epiphytic plants, mainly of the families Araceae, Bromeliaceae and Orchidaceae. The canopy is dense, allowing for little penetration of light. Humidity in the area is maintained by the constant cloud cover and frequent rainfall. The forest floor is covered by leaf litter, fallen tree branches and trunks, which house fungi, mosses and lichens. There are also smaller trees, palms and tree ferns. The mean temperature is about 19°C and the annual precipitation is between 2,500–3,000 mm per year (Bernal et al. 2007).
This frog is a diurnal inhabitant of the forest floor. Males call throughout the day hidden in small holes within the root system of some trees, under leaf litter. One egg clutch deposited in the laboratory contained three brown eggs (M. Bernal and V.F. Luna-Mora pers. comm. 2008). A male nurse frog carrying a tadpole on his back on the ground near bromeliads and heliconias was also found in May (Bernal et al. 2007). The species requires a permanent water source for its tadpoles (M. Bernal and V.F. Luna-Mora pers. comm. 2008). While the species occurs in secondary forest, it does not occur in other types of altered habitats (M.H. Bernal pers. comm. 2014).
This is considered to be a rare species (M. Bernal and V.F. Luna-Mora pers. comm. 2008). Recent survey efforts (September 2012 and July 2013) produced only a single record after six days of survey work (about six person hours per day; M.H. Bernal pers. comm. 2014).
The general area of the species' distribution is dominated by farms with coffee plantations, which most likely are not suitable habitat for the frog (Bernal et al. 2007). In addition, its small population size may render the species susceptible to stochastic processes (M.H. Bernal and V.F. Luna-Mora pers. comm. 2008). The forest fragment in which the species occurs is now a protected area; however, this forest is surrounded by cultivated lands (Rueda-Almonacid et al. 2006).
It occurs within the Ranita Dorada Reserve, established in 2008, where it is protected from immediate anthropogenic threats (M.H. Bernal pers. comm. 2014). Continued enforcement of the protected area will be important for minimizing the effects of deforestation pressures outside the reserve. An environmental education program is under way to generate awareness of the reserve and this species within the local community (O. Cortés pers. comm. 2014). There are also ongoing restoration efforts within the reserve. There is still a lack of information regarding its natural history and distribution. Population status and influence of land use outside the reserve should be monitored. In addition, it would be important to compare this species with another recently encountered species in Supatá (Cundinamarca), which bears a general external resemblance to this frog (M. Bernal and V.F. Luna-Mora pers. comm. 2008).
Ranitomeya tolimense can be distinguished from other dendrobatids by its distinctive colour pattern in combination with its small size and advertisement call (Bernal et al., 2007).
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2014. Andinobates tolimensis. In: IUCN 2014