© 2008 Giovanni Alberto Chaves Portilla (1 of 3)
Most individuals are uniformly black in coloration or black with a slightly lighter venter (Ruthven 1916), but there is at least one population of red morphs (discovered in 2008 at La Serrania de Cebolleta; Rueda 2008).
Tadpoles are unusually long for Atelopus, about twice the length of other known Atelopus larvae (Ruíz-Carranza et al. 1994).
Distribution and Habitat
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Trends and Threats
This species is classified as Critically Endangered and populations are projected to decline >80% between 2004 and 2014, based on what has happened to other high-elevation species of Atelopus. (Stuart et al. 2008). It occurs within at least one protected area, Parque Nacional Natural Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and can tolerate some habitat modification (Stuart et al. 2008). However, the disease chytridiomycosis has devastated many Atelopus species at high elevations, and of the six adult A. carrikeri found at La Serrania de Cebolleta in 2008, two were sick (Rueda 2008). Other threats include habitat loss from increased agriculture and livestock grazing (Granda-Rodríguez et al. 2008), pollution from crop spraying, and climate change (Stuart et al. 2008).
The genus Atelopus, with 113 described and putative species, appears to be the most threatened clade of amphibians (La Marca et al. 2005). Chytridiomycosis is thought to be a primary factor in the decline and disappearance of species in this genus (La Marca et al. 2005). At least 30 species appear to be extinct, having been missing from all known localities for at least 8 years (La Marca et al. 2005). Of the surviving species that have sufficient data with which to evaluate population trends, 81% (42 of 52) have population sizes that have been reduced by at least half (La Marca et al. 2005). Atelopus species generally occur along mid- to high-elevation streams (1500-3000 m asl, though the maximum vertical range is from sea level to permanent snow; Lötters 2007), a habitat preference frequently associated with the co-occurrence of chytridiomycosis (La Marca et al. 2005). Higher-elevation Atelopus species (those living at least 1000 m asl) have been hit the worst, with 75% (21 of 28) having disappeared entirely (La Marca et al. 2005).
Habitat loss has occurred within the ranges of many Atelopus species, but does not appear to have been a major factor in the precipitous declines of most Atelopus species; 22 species declined despite occurring in protected areas (La Marca et al. 2005). Many Atelopus species are local endemics, putting them at particular risk of extinction, with at least 26 species known only from a single population inhabiting a narrow altitudinal range (La Marca et al. 2005). Due to their restricted ranges, they are thought to have limited ability to adapt to warming climatic conditions (Lötters 2007).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
Intensified agriculture or grazing
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Coloma, L. A., Lotters, S. A., and Salas, A. W. (2000). ''Taxonomy of the Atelopus ignescens complex (Anura: Bufonidae): Designation of a neotype of Atelopus ignescens and recognition of Atelopus exiguus.'' Herpetologica, 56(3), 303-324.
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Lötters, S. (1996). The Neotropical Toad Genus Atelopus. Checklist - Biology - Distribution. M. Vences and F. Glaw Verlags GbR, Köln.
Lötters, S. (2007). ''The fate of the Harlequin Toads — help through a synchronous multi-disciplinary approach and the IUCN ‘Amphibian Conservation Action Plan’.'' Zoosystematics and Evolution, 83( Supplement 1), 69-73.
Rueda, L. A. (2008). ''Colorful harlequin frog re-discovered in Colombia.'' Froglog, 86, 1-2.
Ruthven, A. G. (1916). ''Description of a new species of Atelopus from the Santa Marta Mountains, Colombia.'' Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan (available online), 28, 1-3.
Ruthven, A. G. (1922). ''The amphibians and reptiles of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia.'' Miscellaneous Publications 8. Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan,
Ruíz-Carranza, P. M., Ardila-Robayo, M. C., and Hernández-Camacho, J. I. (1994). ''Tres nuevas especies de Atelopus A. M C. Duméril & Bibron 1841 (Amphibia: Bufonidae) de la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia.'' Revista de la Academia Colombiana de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales, 19, 153-183.
Written by Kellie Whittaker (kwhittaker AT berkeley.edu), UC Berkeley
First submitted 2009-12-21
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2009-12-21)
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