This species is known from Provincias Loja and Zamora Chinchipe, in the southern Cordillera Oriental of Ecuador, and from the Cordillera de Huancabamba, Región Piura, in northern Peru (Coloma et al. 2010). Its known elevational range spans from 2,700-3,400 m asl, and its historical extent of oOccurrence (EOO) is estimated at 2,475 km2 (Coloma et al. 2010). However based on calculations of recent survey results (Coloma et al. 2010) the current EOO is estimated to be 468 km2.
Habitat and Ecology
It has been found in páramo and subpáramo habitats (tropical montane habitats above the treeline), notably under stones on dirt banks, within scrub covered with moss and lichen as well as in bromeliads found on the ground or in bushes, and around bamboo (Coloma et al. 2010). Although there is limited ecological information, it is expected to breed in running water by larval development, as with other congeners.
The last living individual was seen and collected in December 1994 in Parque Nacional Podocarpus, Ecuador. It was an unhealthy individual which perished while being transported (Coloma et al. 2010). Subsequent survey efforts spanning from 2001-2009 and encompassing several historical localities have not revealed any new records (Coloma et al. 2010). In Peru, the last individual on record was seen in 1980 (Coloma et al. 2010) and this species is feared to be possibly extinct.
Given the population decline in what appears to be an otherwise relatively pristine area, and given similar patterns with congeners elsewhere in the tropical Andes, climate change and pathogens are suspected as possible threat factors (Coloma et al. 2010, Coloma and Duellman, 2012), although both of these need to be verified for this species and area.
It is known from Podocarpus National Park (Coloma et al. 2010). Further surveys are urgently required to determine if the species is still extant.
Red List Status
Critically Endangered (CR)
Listed as Critically Endangered given that it has experienced a population decline and no live individuals have been reported since 1994, despite intensive and ongoing searches in suitable habitat in historical localities, suggesting that if this species is still extant the pool of remaining mature individuals is likely no greater than 50.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, 2013. Atelopus podocarpus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T18435550A18625726. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T18435550A18625726.en