This species is known from the type locality, in a small ravine along the road from Chachapoyas to Molinopampa, 7 km east of Chachapoyas (Lötters et al. 2004), and a second locality in the mountain forest near Shipasbamba, Bongará province, in the eastern Cordillera Central, Amazonas Region, northern Peru (Santa Cruz et al. 2017). It occurs between 1,733–2,010 m asl. The two known localities are 60 km apart (Santa Cruz et al. 2017) and each is considered to be a threat-defined location. It may occur in suitable habitat in between the two known localities. The extent of occurrence (EOO) of the known range is 233 km2.
Habitat and Ecology
Individuals have been found in small remnants of humid montane forest (Lötters et al. 2004, Santa Cruz et al. 2017), one of them adjacent to a ravine (Santa Cruz et al. 2017). Individuals were found on the forest floor, in the leaf litter (Lötters et al. 2004, Santa Cruz et al. 2017). It is not known if the species can persist in heavily disturbed forest. Although the breeding biology of this species is not known, it is presumed to undergo larval development within streams. Individuals were found close to permanent streams, and it is expected that this species is (at least seasonally) a riparian species, as are many other Atelopus in similar environments (S. Lötters pers. comm.).
The species is known from the holotype collected in 1989 and a second individual collected in March 2014 (Santa Cruz et al. 2017). The approximate survey effort in 2014 was two person-days (R. von May pers. comm. April 2017). No animals were observed during a visit to the type locality in 2002 (Lötters et al. 2004). Due to ongoing decline in the extent and quality of habitat, the population is suspected to be decreasing.
By 2002, the remaining forest at the type locality had almost entirely been cleared through conversion of land to cattle pasture and corn fields (Lötters et al. 2004). It seems plausible that remaining subpopulations of this species would be susceptible to the disease chytridiomycosis that has been implicated in the decline of several congeners. The Shipasbamba locality is impacted by forest fires and agricultural activities (R. von May pers. comm. April 2017).
The species is not known from any protected areas. There are currently no direct conservation measures in place for this species. It is listed as Critically Endangered (CR) in Peru and has legal protection provided by the Categorization in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna (Decreto Supremo Nº004-2014-MINAGRI), which bans all hunting, capture, possession, transport or export of the species for commercial purposes.
Consideration should be given to protecting the remaining habitat at both known localities.
Further population surveys of the two known localities and possibly suitable sites are needed to locate and monitor remnant subpopulations (Lötters et al. 2004, Peru Red List Assessment Workshop April 2017). General studies are additionally needed into the breeding biology and general ecology of this species, as well as presence/absence of disease.
Red List Status
Critically Endangered (CR)
Listed as Endangered because its extent of occurrence (EOO) is 233 km2, it is considered to occur in two threat-defined locations, and there is a continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat in the northern Peruvian Andes.
Atelopus epikeisthos can be distinguished from other similar species by a combination of morphological features and colour patterns (Lötters et al. 2004).
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2018. Atelopus epikeisthos. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T136162A89221263. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-1.RLTS.T136162A89221263.en