This species is known only from central Mexico, in the Ajusco region of Distrito Federal and the adjoining state of Mexico, with a disjunctive population in the north-east of the state of Guerrero between Taxco and Tetipac. The type locality is 13km west of Villa Victoria. This species is found above 2,800m asl. Its distribution is very unclear, and it seems possible that some records are confused with those for Ambystoma altamirani (Shafer pers. comm.). Attempts to map its distribution should be considered highly provisional.
Habitat and Ecology
This species is associated with slow-flowing streams in pine or pine-oak forests. It does metamorphose, but the adults stay in water.
There is very little information on its population status, except in the Special Reserve of the Monarch Butterfly, where a well-studied population appears to be stable.
There has been very serious disturbance of the forest and stream habitats of this species since 1980 with the disappearance of streams required for its survival. Much of the habitat loss is due to illegal logging in national parks, and the very heavy and poorly managed impact of recreational tourism in the parks. There has also been pollution of streams, and this species is probably caught locally for food. Introduced predatory fish might also be a problem.
It is said to occur in Nevado de Toluca Volcano National Park (though this might refer to A. altamirani), but this area lacks effective protection. The population in the Special Reserve of the Monarch Butterfly has been studied recently, and is considered to be secure. More effective conservation of its habitat, and mitigation of pollution, is needed, as are field studies to verify its status. This species is considered as "Threatened" (Amenazada) by the government of Mexico.
Based on allozyme data, this species is most similar to Ambystoma granulosum, and not to A. altamirani (Shaffer pers. comm.).
Brad Shaffer, Dolores Huacaz, Oscar Flores-Villela, Gabriela Parra-Olea, David Wake, Ted Papenfuss 2008. Ambystoma rivulare. In: IUCN 2014