This species occurs in the inter-Andean valleys and on the western slopes of the Andes in southern Ecuador, at elevations of 1,770-3,500m asl.
Habitat and Ecology
It occurs in cloud forest, in ponds in open areas and in streams. Eggs are placed on the ground, and the males carry the tadpoles to streams where they develop further.
The most recent record of this species is from 1997 (QCAZ database). It was abundant in the Bosque Protector Mazán in 1986, but one year of searching in 1995 yielded only a single specimen. It was also abundant in Laguna Busa in 1987. Recent expeditions to the range have turned up no specimens, and no surviving populations are known.
The primary threat to this species is habitat destruction and degradation, due to agriculture and clear cutting, but this does not account for the observed decline, and chytridiomycosis is implicated as the likely cause of its apparent disappearance.
The range of this species overlaps Parque Nacional Cajas and slightly overlaps Parque Nacional Sangay. Survey work is urgently needed to determine whether or not this species survives in its natural range.
Luis A. Coloma, Santiago Ron, Manuel Morales, Ana Almendáriz 2004. Hyloxalus vertebralis. In: IUCN 2014