This species has a very restricted distribution, in cloud forests in the vicinities of the city of Mérida, in Mérida State, in the Cordillera de Mérida in the Venezuelan Andes. Its elevation ranges from 2,100-3,500 m asl.
Habitat and Ecology
This species is an inhabitant of montane cloud forests. It is photophillic and lays egg chains in streams, where the tadpoles also develop.
It is now an extremely rare species, and although found in good numbers in 1978 and 1985, it was last recorded in 1994. Subsequent survey attempts to locate this species have failed to find any individuals, suggesting a serious population decrease.
The major threat is likely to be chytridiomycosis, leading to a catastrophic population decline, as has occurred in many other montane species of Atelopus. Habitat loss and degradation is also a major threat, due to agriculture (crops, livestock, and plantations), logging (in the past), and mining. Climate data from 1975-1990 revealed years with dry spells, which appear to correlate with years where drastic population declines occurred in this species (García et al. 2007).
Some subpopulations occur within the Parque Nacional Sierra Nevada and Parque Nacional Sierra de la Culata. Surveys are needed to establish whether or not this species still persists in its natural range. In view of the threat of chytridiomycosis, surviving individuals might need to form the basis for the establishment of an ex-situ population.
Red List Status
Critically Endangered (CR)
Enrique La Marca, Irwin García, Rubén Albornoz, Juan Elías García-Pérez 2010. Atelopus oxyrhynchus. In: IUCN 2014