© 2005 Dr. Peter Janzen (1 of 2)
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Colombia, Ecuador
Atelopus ignescens was previously abundant and widely distributed across its range. Studies in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s found large numbers of specimens, while anecdotal evidence from as far back as 1864 also suggests great abundance. Survey evidence suggests that the species was still abundant in some localities between 1984 and 1986, but populations apparently rapidly dropped off around that time. Despite extensive searching, none have been found in the wild since 1988, so the species was believed to be extinct (Ron et al. 2003).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Trends and Threats
Habitat degradation may have contributed, as 27.1% of the paramo and 33.3% of Andean forests have been cleared in Ecuador (Ron et al. 2003). However, this species is able to withstand some degree of habitat degradation. In addition, there is little evidence of human interference in two protected areas where the species was previously found but now is not. Thus habitat degradation is probably not the main cause of this extinction (Ron et al. 2003).
Another possible cause is the presence of introduced predatory fishes, as two exotic species of salmonids have been found in streams and lakes of Ecuador’s highlands. However, this idea is not corroborated by evidence of predation. In addition, salmonids have been found within the range of A. ignescens since the 1950s, long before the toads’ decline. Furthermore, the salmonids are not found throughout the entire range of A. ignescens (Ron et al. 2003).
Another possible factor may be the dramatic increase in mean annual temperature in Ecuador in recent years. Of ninety years of climatic data analyzed in a study by Ron et al., the year 1987 saw the most extreme combination of warm and dry conditions. These conditions may have increased adult toad mortality, reduced reproductive success, or made the toad more vulnerable to attack by weakening immune function (Ron et al. 2003).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
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.
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.
Ron, S., Duellman, W. A., Coloma, L. A., and Bustamante, M. R. (2003). ''Population decline of the Jambato Toad Atelopus ignescens (Anura: Bufonidae) in the Andes of Ecuador.'' Journal of Herpetology, 37(1), 116-126.
Originally submitted by: Benjamin Fryer (first posted 2004-05-05)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2017-06-28)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2017 Atelopus ignescens: Jambato Toad <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/55> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Sep 24, 2021.
Feedback or comments about this page.
Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2021. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 24 Sep 2021.
AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.