This species occurs in isolated populations to the west and south of the valley of Mexico, in the states of Morelos and Mexico and the Distrito Federal. The known populations include Lagunas de Zempoala, Ajusco Mountain and Desierto de los Leones, although it has also been found in some additional sites. Its altitudinal range is 2,700-3,200m asl.
Habitat and Ecology
The species lives and breeds in small, permanent streams flowing through high-elevation pine or pine-oak woodland forests. It has also been found in streams in cleared pastures. Although metamorphosis is complete, in the wild some adults as well as larvae remain in the stream year-round.
The species was formerly common, with larvae present in most small streams within its range. It appears now to be greatly reduced.
The forest and stream habitat in the vicinity of Mexico City where the species lives has been severely altered, leading to greatly degraded habitat. Illegal logging in national parks, very heavy recreational tourism, stream pollution and sedimentation, and stream diversion have all had negative impacts. Introduced predatory fishes (trout and others) have eliminated the species from many streams, and local consumption for food may be an issue.
This species occurs, or used to occur, in three national parks: Lagunas de Zempoala, Ajusco Mountain, and Desierto de los Leones. However, surveys conducted in the 1970s and 1980s recorded the species as present in Ajusco and Desierto de los Leones, but absent from Lagunas de Zempoala. There is an urgent need for more effective conservation of the forest and streams of this species, including the control of introduced predatory fishes, and for new field surveys to assess declines that may have occurred in the last 15 years. This species is protected by Mexican law under the "Special Protection" category (Pr).
Shaffer, H.B., Parra-Olea, G., Wake, D. & Flores-Villela, O. 2008. Ambystoma altamirani. In: IUCN 2014