This species' geographic range is the Atlantic versant, humid lowlands and premontane slopes in central northern Nicaragua from 0-960 m asl (Sunyer and Köhler 2010), south through the lowlands of Costa Rica and northwestern Panama (including many islands in Bocas del Toro), from 1-495 m asl (Savage 2002).
Habitat and Ecology
This is a diurnal and mostly terrestrial frog of humid lowland and premontane forest, cacao plantations, and abandoned forest clearings. The species has been detected in forest-palmito, forest-pasture, palmito, and pasture at one site in Costa Rica (Kurz et al. 2014).
Males appear to be fiercely territorial; individual territories have been estimated at 2.5 m
This is a common species throughout its range. The species exhibits significant colour and pattern polymorphism especially among populations in the Bocas del Toro archipelago of Panama (Summers et al. 1997). Populations in forest habitat at La Selva, Costa Rica, seemed to have experienced a decline but populations are increasing in nearby cacao growth areas (Whitfield et al. 2007). More recently, the species was common at La Selva (Folt and Reider 2013) and surrounding secondary forests (Hilje and Mitchell Aide 2012). Elsewhere in Costa Rica the species appears to be increasing due to the increase of garden-like habitats where the species is most abundant; it is abundant at Guayacan (Kubicki, 2008) and no declines have been noted at Braulio Carrillo National Park, Costa Rica (Puschendorf et al. 2006). Sub-populations are suspected to occur in Braulio Carrillo National Park, Corcovado National Park, and Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica. The species is common but decreasing on Mancarroncito Island, Nicaragua (Barquero et al. 2010), and in southeastern Nicaragua this species is abundant (Sunyer et al. 2009).
Habitat loss (from urbanization, agriculture and logging) and over-collection for the pet trade are the principal threats to this species. It is believed that the species is currently being unsustainably collected, and because of the apparently low fecundity of this species, the possibility exists that over-harvesting might lead to localized population declines. Distinct island forms are particularly susceptible to both over-collection, and the development of islands for tourism purposes. The great majority of reported trade over the period 1991 to 1996 was in live animals, presumably by the herpetological pet market. The largest overall exporter of O. pumilio between 1991 and 1996 was Nicaragua (>95% of exports); the USA consistently accounted for over 80% of recorded live O. pumilio imports from Nicaragua during this period, and the species makes up 7% of all CITES amphibian trade (Carpenter et al. 2014). Chytrid fungus was not detected in Bastimentos populations in Panama (Richards et al. 2008), but it has been found on museum specimens of this species, as well as in captive collections in Europe (Spitzen-van der Sluijs 2011). In Costa Rica, individuals have been found to be infected with ranavirus, and chytrid fungus, as well as co-infected with both pathogens (Whitfield et al. 2013). A lowland population in Costa Rica was found to have high prevalence (16/40) of chytrid fungus, though there seems to be seasonal variation in Bd presence within populations (Whitfield et al. 2013). The current impact of this pathogen on O. pumilio is not known. At La Selva, observed declines seem to be driven by climate-driven reductions in quantity of standing leaf litter (Whitfield et al. 2007).
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2015. Oophaga pumilio. In: IUCN 2014