This species is known only from around Río Frio town, in the State of Mexico close to the borderline with Puebla, in central Mexico, at around 3,000m asl. It has not been found at the type locality for over 30 years, since this area is extremely polluted from the town of Río Frio. However, in 1983 it was still found in three sites in small streams at 9 and 15km to the north-east of Río Frio.
Habitat and Ecology
This species requires the presence of shallow water in streams and humid pine forest areas for breeding; one breeding site is in a stream next to a major road. It metamorphoses, but the adults stay in the water.
Formerly relatively common, there appears not to have been any reports of this species for the last 20 years, probably because of the lack of herpetological work within its range.
The pollution and desiccation of the breeding streams in the vicinity of Río Frio town, as well as the clearance of pine forests (for grazing and other economic activities), are the major threats to this species. It is probably caught locally for food, and introduced predatory fish are also a threat.
It occurs in the Parque Nacional Río Frio, but there is huge recreational disturbance in this protected area, including forest clearance. Forest and stream restoration, and the protection of key sites around Río Frio, are the key priorities. Captive breeding is very difficult for coldwater-adapted Ambystoma species, although it is possible, and should be considered. This species is protected under the category Pr (Special protection) by the Government of Mexico.
Red List Status
Critically Endangered (CR)
Listed as Critically Endangered because its Extent of Occurrence is less than 100 km2 and its Area Of Occupancy is less than 10km2, all individuals are in a single sub-population, and there is continuing decline in the number of mature individuals and in the extent and quality of its habitat around Rio Frio.
The species was previously included in the genus Rhyacosiredon. Based on unpublished allozyme and mtDNA sequence data, it is a well-defined taxon distinct from Ambystoma (Rhyacosiredon) altimirani (H.B. Shaffer pers. comm.).
Shaffer, H.B., Parra-Olea, G. & Wake, D. 2008. Ambystoma leorae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T59061A11877775. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T59061A11877775.en