This species is currently known only from three sites (separated by 7.5 km) in the northern region of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes, Guatemala, ranging from 2,652 to 2,799 m asl (Campbell et al. 2010, T. Papenfuss pers. comm. February 2011, S. Rovito pers. comm. March 2011), although the elevational limits are not known with accuracy (S. Rovito pers. comm. March 2011). While its range is almost certainly larger than that covered by the known sites, given reasonably large areas of forest in the vicinity of the type locality, it is unlikely to occur outside a small portion of the northern Sierra de los Cuchumatanes (S. Rovito pers. comm. March 2011). The known sites are in a straight line along a road, and are at similar elevations in similar habitats, presumably connected by continuous forest in the past, although no longer connected (S. Rovito pers. comm. March 2011). Its extent of occurrence, though unquantified, is estimated to be less than 100 km2.
Habitat and Ecology
It occurs on mountain slopes covered by small remnants of primarily hardwood (pine-oak) forest, which is drier than the forest at higher elevations or on opposing slopes of the mountain range (Campbell et al. 2010, T. Papenfuss pers. comm. February 2011). Individuals can be found in bromeliads 3-10 m above the ground (Campbell et al. 2010). This salamander is believed to be restricted to these pine-oak forests (T. Papenfuss pers. comm. February 2011). It is presumed to breed by direct development.
Six specimens were found in approximately two hours of search effort, which would suggest that the species may be common within its small range (S. Rovito pers. comm. March 2011). It was last seen January 2009 (S. Rovito pers. comm. March 2011).
The habitat at the type locality is now degraded, being primarily impacted by small-holder farming (mostly corn fields), timber and firewood harvest by local people (T. Papenfuss pers. comm. February 2011, S. Rovito pers. comm. March 2011); habitat destruction was ongoing as of January 2009 (S.Rovito pers. comm. March 2011).
The community of San Mateo Ixtatán owns a patch of forest where this species is found, and community authorities are currently interested in the preservation of this area (T. Papenfuss pers. comm. February 2011).An ongoing project focusing on the threatened amphibians of Guatemala spearheaded by Toledo Zoo and University of California at Berkeley, with the participation of the Museum of Natural History of the University of San Carlos, is recording temperatures at the site near San Mateo, to assess temperature fluctuations and variation (C. Vásquez-Almazán pers. comm. March 2011). The Museum and non-governmental organization FUNDAECO are seeking to promote the inclusion of the site into a System of Conservation Areas in the north of Huehuetenango (C. Vásquez- Almazán pers. comm. March 2011). Preservation of the only known remaining habitat is a priority for this salamander's conservation. Further research is needed on this species' distribution, population status and natural history.
Red List Status
Critically Endangered (CR)
Listed as Critically Endangered on the basis that its extent of occurrence, though unquantified, is certainly less than 100 km2 and it occurs as a severely, and increasingly, fragmented population as a result of the continuing decline in the extent and quality of forest habitat, which now occurs only as isolated patches within the landscape in the northern portion of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes.
Populations that are now recognized as belonging to Dendrotriton chujorum and Dendrotriton kekchiorum were formerly considered as part of Dendrotriton rabbi in the past, a species now considered to be restricted to Montañas de Cuilco (Campbell et al. 2010).
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2011. Dendrotriton chujorum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T194310A8890889. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2011-1.RLTS.T194310A8890889.en