This species is known only from six localities in the general vicinity of the Cajanuma Mountains, Cordillera Oriental, in Loja and Zamora Chinchipe Provinces, southern Ecuador. Its altitudinal range is 2,500-3,050 m asl. Its geographic range is approximately 132 km2 (Merino-Viteri et al. 2005).
Habitat and Ecology
It is found in the vicinity of streams, rivers and irrigation ditches, in pastures, humid montane shrubland and humid montane forest. Adults can be found beneath stones and logs in or near streams (which is also where they breed). It is not known to what extent it can adapt to disturbed habitats.
Populations of this species have declined seriously, and it was last recorded in July 1987, close to Centro Administrativo of Parque Nacional Podocarpus. It might possibly survive in the south-eastern páramos of Loja Province, but there are also concerns that it is already extinct.
Telmatobius species in Ecuador have been impacted by disease (including chytridiomycosis, but also from another fungal disease, a nematode infection, and from morphological malformations). Climatic abnormalities might also be implicated, and are perhaps related to the incidence of disease outbreaks. In addition, habitat destruction and degradation is taking place due to agricultural development (crops and livestock ranching) and human settlement. Species in the genus are also commonly used for food.
Approximately 4.9% (6.5 km2) of its estimated geographic distribution is comprised within Parque Nacional Podocarpus (Merino-Viteri et al. 2005). Although protection and maintenance of existing habitat is clearly needed, the risk of disease means that it is a very high priority to conduct surveys to relocate this species and determine its current population status. Any surviving individuals should form the basis for the initiation of a captive-breeding programme.
Andrés Merino-Viteri, Luis A. Coloma, Santiago Ron 2010. Telmatobius vellardi. In: IUCN 2014