This species is found in the lower montane zone of the Cordillera de Talamanca-Chiriqui axis of Costa Rica (1,800-2,500 m asl) and western Panama (1,400-2,100 m asl) (Savage 2002). It has not been seen in Costa Rica since 1996 and the species is now considered to be extinct in that country; it might also have disappeared in Panama.
Habitat and Ecology
It is a diurnal, terrestrial species of stream margins in lower montane wet forest and rainforest. Males are territorial and use an advertisement call to maintain a breeding site. Breeding and larval development for this species takes place in forest streams (Savage 2002).
This species was once considered locally abundant along streams. In Costa Rica this species has disappeared from its entire range, and there have been no sightings since 1996 despite many searches in appropriate montane habitats (there have been no new sightings as of August, 2007). The population status in Panama shows evidence of a decline, with no records since the late 1990s.
Marked declines have been noticed in its extent of occurrence. In Costa Rica the decline and probable extinction of this species has been linked to chytridiomycosis (Lips 1998), which was confirmed in this species in 1993 and 1994 (see Lips et al. 2003). Introduction of predatory trout, and general habitat loss both outside, and within protected areas, are also threats to remaining populations. Climate change is considered to be a possible threat.
The range of the species is within the protected areas of Parque Nacional Chirripó and Parque Internacional La Amistad. The threat of chytridiomycosis means that successful conservation measures will probably need to include the maintenance of any surviving individuals in captivity.
Lips, K., Ibáñez, R., Bolaños, F., Chaves, G., Solís, F., Savage, J., Jaramillo, C., Fuenmayor, Q. & Castillo, A. 2010. Atelopus chiriquiensis. In: IUCN 2014