This species is known from the Cordillera Carabaya on the Amazon versant of the Andes in the Regions of Puno and Cusco (Catenazzi et al. 2005). Its presence in the Regions of Huánuco and Ucayali (Rodriguez et al. 1993) require further investigation, but may have been confused with Atelopus siranus (A. Catenazzi pers. comm. April 2017). It has an elevational range of 1,800–2,500 m asl. Its type locality is about 60 km from the border with Bolivia and many other species found at this locality are also found in Bolivia, so it is possible this species could occur there as well (A. Catenazzi pers. comm. April 2017).
Habitat and Ecology
This species occurs in cloud forests on the Amazonian versant of the Peruvian Andes. The species is not expected to be tolerant of habitat degradation. Adults are usually found in the vicinity of small streams (Catenazzi et al. 2005) and breeding takes place in streams.
The species has not been seen since 2004. It is possible that this species is already extinct, however if a population still exists it is thought to have less than 50 individuals. The type locality—at Santo Domingo in the buffer zone of Bahuaja Sonene National Park in Puno Region—was surveyed in November 2006, February-March and May-June 2007 (J.C. Chaparro pers. comm. April 2017), and again in 2016 and 2017 (A. Catenazzi pers. comm. March 2018), but no records were made.
Once common within its range in Manu National Park, this species has not been observed since 1999 despite intensive monitoring along streams where they used to reproduce (Catenazzi et al. 2011, Catenazzi and von May 2014). In the Kosñipata Valley, in the buffer zone of Manu National Park, juveniles and adults were formerly found in leaf litter and along creeks from 1,900-2,000 m asl. Surveys in the same region during 2007-2009 (Catenazzi et al. 2011) and 2012-2016, were unable to detect any individuals (A. Catenazzi pers. comm. April 2017).
In 2004, surveys conducted in Megantoni National Sanctuary in Cusco Region detected two individuals over 14 person days (Rodriguez and Catenazzi 2005, von May et al. 2008). These 2004 reports are the last time the species has been seen, but no surveys to the same site have been made since then (A. Catenazzi pers. comm. April 2017).
There is very little habitat loss in Bahuaja Sonene and Manu National Parks, and Megantoni National Sanctuary. Specimens from Manu analyzed in 1999 were not infected by the chytrid fungus, and those captured in 2004 in the headwaters of the Timpía river in Megantoni were also not infected (histological analysis). While chytridiomycosis has not yet been recorded in this species, the disease is known to have spread throughout Peru and has been implicated in the decline of many Atelopus species. The disappearance of the species from Manu National Park happened during a period (mid- to late-1990s) when several species known to be susceptible to chytridiomycosis disappeared from streams in montane cloud forest, suggesting that an outbreak of this fungal disease played a role in these declines.
This species was once common in Bahuaja Sonene and Manu National Parks, and Megantoni National Sanctuary (Catenazzi et al. 2005). 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.
If subpopulations can be located, the population size should be determined and the site protected. Given the threat of chytridiomycosis, recommended conservation measures will probably need to include the establishment of a captive-breeding programme.
It is a very high priority to conduct surveys to locate this species and determine its current population status. There is a possibility that this species may be already extinct.
Red List Status
Critically Endangered (CR)
Listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct) given that no live individuals have been reported since 2004, despite intensive and ongoing searches in suitable habitat in historical localities. Should the species still be extant, it is likely that it survives in low numbers, possibly less than 50 mature individuals.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2018. Atelopus erythropus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T54506A89196113. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T54506A89196113.en .Downloaded on 16 February 2019