This species occurs in the Amazonian lowlands of Colombia, Ecuador and eastern Peru, to Amazonas, Pará, Amapá (Brazil), and the Guianas (Frost 1985; but see taxonomic notes). It ranges from sea level to 600m asl.
Habitat and Ecology
It lives on the floor of terra firme tropical rainforest and in the leaf-litter near running streams. It appears to be restricted to undisturbed habitats. Breeding takes place in fast-flowing streams.
It is locally abundant. It is unlikely to be declining in most of its range, but in Ecuador it is thought to have declined significantly and there are no records since November 1994. It was formerly abundant at Madre de Dios in Peru (A. Salas, in litt. To E. La Marca), but there is no recent information. It appears to be stable at the Mabura Hill Forest Reserve in Guyana (Ernst et al., 2005).
Threats to this species include forest loss due to agriculture, and logging and clear cutting, especially in eastern Amazônia. It occurs below the altitude at which chytridiomycosis is normally a problem, but declines have nevertheless taken place in Ecuador and perhaps also Peru, and it is possible that animals from Iquitos in Peru succumbed to this disease (R. Schulte pers. comm. to E. La Marca).
It occurs in many protected areas across its range. Further research is necessary to determine the degree of threat posed by chytridiomycosis. A captive-breeding program for this species has been initiated.
Cocroft et al. (1990) and Lötters et al. (2002b) suggested that Atelopus spumarius might be a complex of more than one species. Lescure and Marty (2001) recognize two subspecies: A. s. barbotini Lescure 1981; and A. s. hoogmoedi Lescure 1973 without arguments and in contrast to their earlier opinion. Lötters et al. (2002b) suggested that A. spumarius occurs in the upper Amazon Basin only (Peru, Colombia, Brazil); populations from southern Peru, Ecuador and central Brazil might refer to undescribed taxa within A. spumarius sensu lato. Populations from the Guianas and eastern Amazonia might be treated as A. hoogmoedi complex (maybe within A. spumarius sensu lato). Atelopus spumarius hoogmoedi is a synonym of A. spumarius under Lescure and Gasc (1986). This form is understood by Lescure and Gasc (1986) to be more or less A. spumarius sensu lato; however, A. spumarius hoogmoedi is not conspecific with A. spumarius sensu stricto (S. Lötters pers. comm.)
Claudia Azevedo-Ramos, Santiago Ron, Luis A. Coloma, Martín R. Bustamante, Antonio Salas, Rainer Schulte, Stefan Lötters, Ariadne Angulo, Fernando Castro, Jean Lescure, Christian Marty, Enrique La Marca, Marinus Hoogmoed 2010. Atelopus spumarius. In: IUCN 2014