This species is found in humid lowlands on the Atlantic versant from north-eastern Honduras, through Nicaragua to central Panama, both slopes of the cordilleras of Costa Rica and western Panama, the lowlands of south-western Costa Rica and eastern Panama, and gallery forests in non-peninsular north-western Costa Rica, from sea level up to 1,740 m asl (Savage 2002).
Habitat and Ecology
This is a diurnal species associated with small streams in humid lowland, montane and gallery forest. It is found wherever patches of forest remain, even within urban areas. Larvae are found in small streams.
Once a common species, it initially declined in many montane areas of Costa Rica. It disappeared from Tapantí and the higher regions of Monteverde by the late 1980s, and disappeared at the same time from San Ramón Reserve but reappeared in 1994. It also appears to have declined at La Selva, a lowland site (Whitfield et al. 2007), but was present at La Selva and surrounding secondary forests in 2010 (Hilje and Mitchell Aide 2012). The species was found to be rare in San Vito in 2007 (Santos-Barrera et al. 2007). Lithobates warszewitschii declined at Braulio Carrillo National Park (Puschendorf et al. 2006). It is still abundant at Guayacan (Kubicki, 2008), and in Tinamascas (along the road from San Isidro to Dominical), Parque Nacional Corcovado, and Ciudad Colón. It remained generally common at low elevations, and as of August 2007, the species was recolonizing areas from which it had previously declined. In Panama, it was one of the most abundant tadpoles in streams pre-decline at El Copé (Ranvestal et al. 2004) but the species was extirpated at the site by 2010 (Crawford et al. 2010). The species is uncommon but appears to be increasing at El Quebracho, Nicaragua (Barquero et al. 2010), and in southeastern Nicaragua this species is relatively abundant (Sunyer et al. 2009).
It is generally threatened by habitat loss (deforestation) resulting from agricultural development, logging, and development of human infrastructure. The disappearances at higher altitudes may have been due to chytridiomycosis, however animals are now recoloniszng these sites. The minimum % range of the species that lies in chytrid susceptible area is 57% (Lötters et al. 2009). At La Selva, 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. Lithobates warszewitschii. In: IUCN 2014