This species is known from six geographical sites in the western slopes of the Cordillera Oriental, quebrada Aguas Claras vereda Río Negro, Santuario de Flora y Fauna Guanentá-Alto Río Fonce, Municipality of El Encino, Santander Department, Colombia, at 2,525 m asl (Acosta-Galvis et al. 2006). Its EOO is 230 km2 and is divided into three threat-defined locations.
Habitat and Ecology
The species inhabits montane humid forest with canopy heights not exceeding 10 m. This forest is rich in moss and lichens. it is a diurnal stream-associated species, where adults are found either near the margins of the Aguas Claras stream or in the stream itself. Tadpoles are also found within the stream. Breeding activity has been recorded for July, after the rainy season, although tadpoles have been found both during March and July. Calls attributed to this species have been heard during the months of May and August. One female revealed 393 cream-coloured eggs (Acosta-Galvis et al. 2006).
The population at the type locality appeared to be stable at least until 2006 (Acosta-Galvis et al. 2006), although densities of adults were found to be low, while tadpole densities appeared to be high (A. Acosta pers. comm. 2008). After their discovery, a field monitoring trip between 2005-2006 in Aguas Claras creek in the Rio Negro basin (Guanentá, Alto Fonce National Park) found some specimens of this species dead with some external signs of fungal infection (Prado-Salcedo et al. 2011). Recently, an additional trip of three days in March 2010 found a single individual, apparently without signs of the disease. Due to the effects of disease and the ongoing decline in the extent and quality of habitat, the population is suspected to be decreasing.
The presence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis has been confirmed for the known extant population of this species (A. Acosta pers. comm. 2008; Ruiz and Rueda-Almonacid 2008), although live specimens did not exhibit clinical symptoms of chytridiomycosis (Ruiz and Rueda-Almonacid 2008). This species has also tested positive for Saprolegnia ferax, which is a fungus thought to be transmitted by introduced rainbow trout, and could be another possible cause or contributing factor for amphibian population declines (Prada-Salcedo et al. 2013). Other possible threats include predation by introduced trout, pollution and sudden fluctuations in the stream's water level (Acosta-Galvis et al. 2006) and gold, copper and platinum mining, and agriculture (Colombia Amphibian Assessment Workshop 2016).
This species is being constantly monitored at the type locality, which is in a protected area. This species is located along three Natural Protected Areas: Santuario de Flora y Fauna "Guanentá Alto Rio Fonce", Distrito de Manejo Integrado "Guanentá Alto Rio Fonce" and Distrito de Manejo "Paramo Guantiva La Rusia". Efforts have been directed towards the captive breeding of this species, although unfortunately without positive results in producing captive-bred offspring.
In addition to continuing efforts to successfully breeding the species in captivity, ongoing and improved protection of the species' habitat is required in light of the threats of mining and agriculture.
Red List Status
Listed as Endangered because its extent of occurrence (EOO) is 230 km2, it occurs in three threat-defined locations, and there is ongoing decline in the quality and extent of the species' habitat.
Atelopus mittermeieri is distinguished from other species of the genus in the region by its colour patterns (Acosta-Galvis et al. 2006).
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2017. Atelopus mittermeieri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T136033A49538834. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T136033A49538834.en