This species is known only from the type locality in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park in the department of Cesar, Colombia where its altitudinal range is between 2,000–3,500 m asl. It might occur a little more widely on the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, but presently occurs in one threat-defined location and its EOO is 80 km2.
Habitat and Ecology
This species occurs in sub-Andean and Andean forests, sub-páramo and páramo. Egg chains are placed in fast-flowing water and the tadpoles develop in the water.
The 2004 assessment stated that the species was known from only six specimens and that there had not been any records since 1991. Since then the most recent record of the species is from a 2009 photograph taken by Ruperto Chaparro-Villafaña and verified by L.A. Rueda-Solano (Colombia Red Listing Workshop August 2016). There have been very few surveys to the area because it is difficult to access, so it is still unclear (as it was in 2004) whether the paucity of records is caused by the lack of survey effort, genuine rarity or population decline. Despite this uncertainty, due to the ongoing decline in the extent and quality in its habitat, the population of this species is suspected to be decreasing.
The present ongoing threats to this species are habitat loss and degradation from agricultural activities (including pollution from agrochemicals), fire, logging and livestock. Using models, Forero-Medina et al. (2011) suggest that climate change could lead to 20% of this species' range shifting to higher elevations with unsuitable land cover. The 2004 assessment reported that chytridiomycosis was probably the major threat, leading to a catastrophic population decline. While there is currently no direct information confirming that chytrid has caused declines in this species, the lack of records in the 1990s is consistent with the pattern of decline in many other montane Atelopus species and it is therefore reasonable to infer that the disease might be the cause of declines in this species (Colombia Red List Assessment Workshop August 2016).
This species occurs in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park.
To ensure its survival, improved and ongoing protection is required for the National Park and the suitable habitat outside the park.
Further surveys are required to locate the species and improve the understanding of its population size, distribution and trend. Research is also needed to better determine the impact of past, present and future threats.
Red List Status
Critically Endangered (CR)
Listed as Critically Endangered because its extent of occurrence (EOO) is 80 km2, it occurs in one threat-defined location, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2017. Atelopus arsyecue. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T54489A49534521. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T54489A49534521.en