This species is found in the Andean slopes of Argentina, Chile (altiplano in the North to the southern Nothofagus region), Bolivia, and Peru (regions of Puno, Cusco, Junin, and Huánuco); also present in parts of Argentinian Patagonia (B. s. papillosus). It has a wide altitudinal range from sea level (Azapa, Arica, Chile) to 5,100 m asl.
Habitat and Ecology
In the Andes the species is present in scrubland and grassland, and in the more southern parts of its range it is found in forested areas. It has also been recorded from arable areas. Breeding takes place in the wet season in temporary ponds, altiplano lagoons and slow flowing streams; no tadpoles have been found during the dry season (R. Santa Cruz pers. comm. July 2015).
It is generally abundant where it occurs. While surveys have been carried out, the methods used (Visual Encounter Surveys and transects) are good to report the species but do not provide adequate information on abundance as the species is aquatic (R. Santa Cruz pers. comm. July 2015). Local inhabitants in Peru have suggested that this species has declined dramatically compared to the 1990s (R. Santa Cruz pers. comm. July 2015).
There are no major threats to this widespread species; there are some localized declines through the use of agro-chemicals and over collection for educational use (dissections) at universities. In Chile it is threatened by hydroelectric dams, mining activities and water pollution. In Peru, it is used for food and medicine; and the main observed threats in the habitat are grazing livestock (including llamas, alpacas, sheep), introduced trout species into the streams, and the destruction and pollution of bogs (R. Santa Cruz pers. comm. July 2015).
We follow Córdova (1999) in treating Rhinella arequipensis as a variant phenotype of Rhinella spinulosa, and Bufo flavolineatus and Bufo trifolium as junior synonyms of Rhinella spinulosa. However, more than one species might be involved in Rhinella spinulosa. The form Rhinella spinulosa papillosa of Chile and Argentina is often considered distinct, but is not treated as such here.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2015. Rhinella spinulosa. In: IUCN 2014