This species is found in a small area around Tacicuaro in north-western Michoacan, to the west of Morelia City in Mexico, at 2,000 m asl. It occurs in one threat-defined location and its extent of occurrence (EOO) and area of occupancy (AOO) is 18 km2.
Habitat and Ecology
This is a metamorphosing species spending most of the time on land in a mosaic of natural grasslands and pine-oak forests. It requires ponds of moderate depth in which to breed, and is able to survive in somewhat modified landscapes, taking advantage of cattle ponds for larval development.
The species' population is severely fragmented due to the desiccation of water bodies and the expansion of urban settlements. Recent field work by the Universidad Michoacana San Nicolás de Hidalgo has shown that the species can still be located within its known range (X. Aguilar pers. comm. Red List Assessment Workshop 2014). However, due to ongoing declines in the extent and quality of habitat, the population is suspected to be decreasing.
The desiccation, pollution, and conversion of former ponds, small reservoirs, and open habitats to grow crops, reported as important threats in 2004, still represent the main threats to this species, coupled with the urban expansion of Morelia and Uruapan. Introduced predatory fish in ponds and small streams are also a major concern.
It does not occur in any protected areas, however it is protected under the category Pr (Special protection) by the Government of Mexico.
The conservation and restoration of the natural habitats for this species is urgent and improved management of hydric resources is a priority, as is reducing the levels of water pollution and control of invasive/introduced fish. It might be possible to breed this species in captivity and reintroduce it in the wild.
Red List Status
Critically Endangered (CR)
Listed as Critically Endangered because its extent of occurrence (EOO) is 18 km2, its distribution is severely fragmented, all individuals are known from one threat-defined location, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat around the city of Morelia.
Based on mitochondrial DNA (Shaffer and McKnight 1996) and allozymes (Shaffer 1984) this species is extremely closely related to several other populations from the Mesa Central, and species boundaries are in need of careful review.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2016. Ambystoma amblycephalum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T59050A53973313. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T59050A53973313.en