Atelopus epikeisthos has been recorded only from the type locality of 7 km East of Chachapoyas, in the eastern Cordiillera Central of Departamento de Amazonas, northern Peru (Lötters et al. 2004). The type collection took place in a small ravine along the road from Chachapoyas to Molinopampa. The ravine stream flows into the Río Sonche, a tributary of the Río Utcubamba, which flows into the Río Marañón (Lötters et al. 2004).
Habitat and Ecology
The single collected specimen was found in a small remnant of humid montane forest with tree fern vegetation (Lötters et al. 2004). The specimen was collected walking on the floor (Lötters et al. 2004). 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. The specimen was found along a permanent stream, and it is expected that A. epikeisthos is (at least seasonally) a riparian species, as are many other Atelopus in similar environments (S. Lötters, pers. comm.).
The species is known only from the holotype collected in 1989. No animals were observed during a visit to the type locality in 2002 (Lötters et al. 2004).
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 populations of this species would be susceptible to the disease chytridiomycosis that has been implicated in the decline of several congeners.
There are currently no direct conservation measures in place for this species. Given the presumed rapid population decline, it appears that urgent conservation actions are needed. Further population surveys of the type locality and possibly suitable sites are needed to locate and monitor remnant populations (Lötters et al. 2004). The species is not known from any protected areas, but consideration should be given to protecting the remaining habitat at the type locality. General studies are additionally needed into the breeding biology and general ecology of this species.
Red List Status
Critically Endangered (CR)
Listed as Critically Endangered because of a drastic population decline, estimated to be more than 80% over the last three generations, inferred from observed shrinkage in population and anecdotal information on habitat destruction and/or degradation.
Atelopus epikeisthos can be distinguished from other similar species by a combination of morphological features and colour patterns (Lötters et al. 2004).
Stefan Lötters 2008. Atelopus epikeisthos. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T136162A4253102. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T136162A4253102.en