AmphibiaWeb - Atelopus carrikeri


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Atelopus carrikeri Ruthven, 1916
family: Bufonidae
genus: Atelopus

© 2008 Giovanni Alberto Chaves Portilla (1 of 3)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Endangered (EN)
National Status None
Regional Status None
Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (4 records).

SVL of females 52.4-62.1 mm; SVL of males 41.1-46.7 mm (Coloma et al. 2000). Diagnosis: Stout body with relatively short limbs. Fingers unwebbed, toes webbed; digits have rounded tips. Toe I is distinct. Head is as broad as it is long. Interorbital space equal to the width of the upper eyelid. Snout subacuminate, protruding. No tympanum visible. Tongue is elliptical, and free behind. Palate smooth. Spiny warts on sides of body. Extent of warts varies: may be small patch between eye and arm, or may extend down the sides to the femur. A juvenile specimen was reported to be covered with spiny warts dorsally and with flat tubercles ventrally (Ruthven 1916).

Most individuals are uniformly black in coloration or black with a slightly lighter venter (Ruthven 1916), but there is at least one population of red morphs (discovered in 2008 at La Serrania de Cebolleta; Rueda 2008).

Tadpoles are unusually long for Atelopus, about twice the length of other known Atelopus larvae (Ruíz-Carranza et al. 1994).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Colombia


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (4 records).
Endemic to Colombia. Inhabits the páramos, sub-Andean and Andean forests of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (El Paramo de Macostama, Departamento de la Guajira and La Serrania de Cebolleta, Departamento de Magdalena, Colombia) from 2,350-4,800 m above sea level (Acosta-Galvis 2000; Stuart et al. 2008; Rueda 2008). The type locality is at the headwaters of the Rio Macostama (Ruthven 1916) and other localities include the upper basins of the Rio Badillo and Rio Guatapuri (Rueda-Almonacid 1994). The range reaches into areas which get snow (Stuart et al. 2008). This species is associated with the banks of small streams of cool water; at higher elevations, these streams descend from the snow line (Ruthven 1922).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Diurnal, like other species of Atelopus (Dunn 1944; Lötters 1996). Breeds in streams; eggs are laid in strings (Stuart et al. 2008).

Trends and Threats

This species is classified as Critically Endangered and populations are projected to decline >80% between 2004 and 2014, based on what has happened to other high-elevation species of Atelopus. (Stuart et al. 2008). It occurs within at least one protected area, Parque Nacional Natural Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and can tolerate some habitat modification (Stuart et al. 2008). However, the disease chytridiomycosis has devastated many Atelopus species at high elevations, and of the six adult A. carrikeri found at La Serrania de Cebolleta in 2008, two were sick (Rueda 2008). Other threats include habitat loss from increased agriculture and livestock grazing (Granda-Rodríguez et al. 2008), pollution from crop spraying, and climate change (Stuart et al. 2008).

The genus Atelopus, with 113 described and putative species, appears to be the most threatened clade of amphibians (La Marca et al. 2005). Chytridiomycosis is thought to be a primary factor in the decline and disappearance of species in this genus (La Marca et al. 2005). At least 30 species appear to be extinct, having been missing from all known localities for at least 8 years (La Marca et al. 2005). Of the surviving species that have sufficient data with which to evaluate population trends, 81% (42 of 52) have population sizes that have been reduced by at least half (La Marca et al. 2005). Atelopus species generally occur along mid- to high-elevation streams (1500-3000 m asl, though the maximum vertical range is from sea level to permanent snow; Lötters 2007), a habitat preference frequently associated with the co-occurrence of chytridiomycosis (La Marca et al. 2005). Higher-elevation Atelopus species (those living at least 1000 m asl) have been hit the worst, with 75% (21 of 28) having disappeared entirely (La Marca et al. 2005).

Habitat loss has occurred within the ranges of many Atelopus species, but does not appear to have been a major factor in the precipitous declines of most Atelopus species; 22 species declined despite occurring in protected areas (La Marca et al. 2005). Many Atelopus species are local endemics, putting them at particular risk of extinction, with at least 26 species known only from a single population inhabiting a narrow altitudinal range (La Marca et al. 2005). Due to their restricted ranges, they are thought to have limited ability to adapt to warming climatic conditions (Lötters 2007).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

Intensified agriculture or grazing
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants
Climate change, increased UVB or increased sensitivity to it, etc.

This species belongs to the ignescens group of Atelopus (Lötters 1996).


Acosta-Galvis, A. R. (2000). ''Ranas, salamandras y caecilias (Tetrapoda: Amphibia) de Colombia.'' Biota Colombiana (available online as .pdf), 1, 289-319.

Coloma, L. A., Lotters, S. A., and Salas, A. W. (2000). ''Taxonomy of the Atelopus ignescens complex (Anura: Bufonidae): Designation of a neotype of Atelopus ignescens and recognition of Atelopus exiguus.'' Herpetologica, 56(3), 303-324.

Dunn, E. R. (1944). ''Herpetology of the Bogotá area.'' Revista de la Academia Colombiana de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales, 6, 68-81.

La Marca, E., Lötters, S., Puschendorf, R., Ibáñez, R., Rueda-Almonacid, J. V., Schulte, R., Marty, C., Castro, F., Manzanilla-Puppo, J., García-Pérez, J. E., Bolaños, F., Chaves, G., Pounds, J. A., Toral, E., and Young, B. E. (2005). ''Catastrophic population declines and extinctions in neotropical harlequin frogs (Bufonidae: Atelopus).'' Biotropica, 37(2), 190-201.

Lötters, S. (1996). The Neotropical Toad Genus Atelopus. Checklist - Biology - Distribution. M. Vences and F. Glaw Verlags GbR, Köln.

Lötters, S. (2007). ''The fate of the Harlequin Toads — help through a synchronous multi-disciplinary approach and the IUCN ‘Amphibian Conservation Action Plan’.'' Zoosystematics and Evolution, 83( Supplement 1), 69-73.

Rueda, L. A. (2008). ''Colorful harlequin frog re-discovered in Colombia.'' Froglog, 86, 1-2.

Ruthven, A. G. (1916). ''Description of a new species of Atelopus from the Santa Marta Mountains, Colombia.'' Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan (available online), 28, 1-3.

Ruthven, A. G. (1922). ''The amphibians and reptiles of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia.'' Miscellaneous Publications 8. Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan,

Ruíz-Carranza, P. M., Ardila-Robayo, M. C., and Hernández-Camacho, J. I. (1994). ''Tres nuevas especies de Atelopus A. M C. Duméril & Bibron 1841 (Amphibia: Bufonidae) de la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia.'' Revista de la Academia Colombiana de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales, 19, 153-183.

Originally submitted by: Kellie Whittaker (first posted 2009-12-21)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2009-12-21)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2009 Atelopus carrikeri <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed May 20, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 20 May 2024.

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