This species is restricted to several localities in the northern and southern versants of the Cordillera de la Costa of Venezuela (Estados Aragua, Carabobo, Miranda, Vargas, Yaracuy and the Distrito Federal) and recently from Cerro Azul (Estado Cojedes) (Rivas Fuenmayor 1998), which suggests that the species might be present throughout the entire mountainous area of the central coastal range (Lötters, La Marca and Vences 2004). It has been recorded from 30-2,200m asl.
Habitat and Ecology
It is a diurnal species usually found on rocks of rivulets or the surroundings, where they can climb on to plants up to 1.5m above ground. The general habitat is humid forest in montane and lowland environments. It breeds along swift-flowing streams. The recently rediscovered population was found by a cascading mountain stream in cloud forest.
Although this species was once abundant, it has undergone an extreme decline, to the point that despite extensive surveys no specimens have been seen since 1986 and there are no museum records after 1988 (La Marca 1995; La Marca and Lötters 1997; Manzanilla and La Marca 1999; Lötters, La Marca and Vences 2004). Recently (2004), a single small population of A. cruciger has been found just south of the town of Cata within the limits of the 107,000-ha Parque Nacional Henri Pittier, in cloud forest at 600m asl.
The major cause of the observed population decline of this species is chytridiomycosis, which was confirmed in 1986 (Bonaccorso et al. 2003). Pollution by acid rain could be another possible threat, given the vicinity of the species to the large concentration of industries generating polluting gases in the nearby area of Valencia-Maracay. Droughts and flash floods could be a further potential threat, as well as over collecting for scientific or pet trade purposes.
Many of the known localities are within the Parque Nacional Henri Pittier, Parque Nacional Rancho Grande, and Parque Nacional San Esteban. Monitoring of the populations, establishment of a captive-breeding population, and disease management are all urgently required.
This species was recently redescribed by Lötters, La Marca and Vences (2004) following the discovery that the original type material represents Atelopus varius of Central America. The former junior synonym A. vogli is considered to be a distinct species following Lötters, La Marca and Vences (2004).
Jesús Manzanilla, Enrique La Marca, Ronald Heyer, Ernesto Fernández-Badillo 2004. Atelopus cruciger. In: IUCN 2014