This species was initially discovered at "San Antonio de los Cobres (24° 11'S; 66° 21'W)", Salta Province, Argentina", but it has now been extirpated from this site. It is currently known with certainty only from a single bog (Pueblo Nuevo) approximately 1.5km from the type locality. A population that morphologically is very close to T. atacamensis has recently been discovered at Los Patos, Salta Province (Barrionuevo and Mangione 2006), which is close to the type locality, but is in a rivulet that does not belong to the same basin of the two other localities. It has been recorded at an elevation of 3,800m asl.
Habitat and Ecology
It is wholly aquatic, occurring in high-elevation bog streams with individuals found in burrows in the bog streamsides. The species cannot survive in modified habitats.
This is a very rare species that is in serious decline. Already extinct at the type locality, it might survive at Pueblo Nuevo.
It is threatened by the introduction of predatory fish (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and by water pollution caused by mining activities (gold and copper). In addition, the drainage of mountain bogs and the alteration of watersheds are also threats to this species. Chytridiomycosis was reported for this species by Barrionuevo and Mangione (2006).
To date, this species is not recorded from any protected areas, and the establishment of a protected area for this species coupled with a species management plan (including ex-situ assistance) is needed. The population at Pueblo Nuevo needs to be closely monitored, while the taxonomic status of the population of Los Patos needs further investigation to determine whether or not it represents a distinct taxon.
Red List Status
Critically Endangered (CR)
Listed as Critically Endangered because of an observed drastic population decline, estimated to be more than 80% over the last ten years, due to continuing habitat destruction and degradation, pollution, and invasive, alien predators; and its Extent of Occurrence is less than 100 km2 and its Area of Occupancy is less than 10km2, it is known from a single location, and there is continuing decline in its area of occupancy, the extent and quality of its habitat, in the number of sub-populations, and in the number of mature individuals.
Esteban Lavilla 2010. Telmatobius atacamensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T21581A9291048. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-2.RLTS.T21581A9291048.en .Downloaded on 22 January 2019