This species is known from the type locality, Laguna Llaviuco, in Azuay province, and from the nearby vicinity in the Cordillera Occidental of southern Ecuador. It is known from eight localities, and has been recorded from 3,150-3,850m asl.
Habitat and Ecology
It is an inhabitant of sub-páramo and páramo, but is also known to occur in pastureland around the Laguna Llaviuco. Breeding and larval development take place in streams.
This historically abundant species was recorded in May 1995, at a time when no decline was recorded (Coloma, Lötters and Salas 2000). Since then, there had been little survey work, but it is expected that the species has undergone a population decline across its range, although it is still known to survive in the wild (La Marca et al. 2005). More recently, Moore (2007) reported two individuals found in southern Ecuador.
The most serious risk to this species is chytridiomycosis, which has had a devastating impact on other high-altitude species of Atelopus. Agriculture, both crops and livestock, as well as climate change and the construction of dams are major threats to the species’ habitat. Invasive trout species might prey on tadpoles of this species.
The range of this species includes Parque Nacional Cajas and Parque Nacional Mazán. The population status of this species urgently needs to be assessed. Ex-situ conservation measures are already in place for this species, as the Pontificia Universidad Católica of Ecuador is seeking to establish a captive breeding colony at its climate-controlled captive facility (Moore 2007). It is also necessary to control trout populations within the protected areas.
This species was removed from the synonymy of Atelopus ignescens by McDiarmid (1971).
Eduardo Toral, Manuel Morales, Diego Cisneros-Heredia, Luis A. Coloma, Santiago Ron, Martín R. Bustamante 2010. Atelopus exiguus. In: IUCN 2014