This species is known only from two localities separated by ca 40 km in the vicinity of Uspantán, El Quiché, Cuchumatanes Mountains, Guatemala, between 2,100-2,690 m asl (Campbell et al. 2010, S. Rovito pers. comm. March 2011). The areas of large patches of good quality forest that surround the known localities total approximately 150 km2 (S. Rovito pers. comm.March 2011). It is possible that this species may occur in additional localities in the general area of the two known localities and further to the west in the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes in areas that have been poorly explored, but there are currently no data to confirm this (S. Rovito pers. comm. March 2011).
Habitat and Ecology
It is found in montane cloud forests. One specimen was found during a rainy evening on a fern at about 1 m from the ground (Campell et al. 2010). It is believed to breed by direct development.
It is currently known from five specimens, four of them collected in 1977-78 and one in 1996 (Campbell et al. 2010). More recent surveys (four days of intensive searching under ideal conditions) have not produced any new individuals, suggesting that this species may be rare (S. Rovito pers. comm. March 2011).
Small-holder agriculture and timber extraction are encroaching on this species' habitat, although there seems to be more forest left in its range than in the case of Dendrotriton chujorum (S. Rovito pers. comm. March 2011). There is at least one large area of well-preserved forest habitat near Laj Chimel, Quiché, where the species is known to occur (S. Rovito pers. comm. March 2011), but the recent opening of a large road has facilitated access to forest resources and increased pressure on the existing forest habitat (C. Vásquez-Almazán pers. comm. March 2011). Other areas of its presumed range are severely degraded and fragmented (S. Rovito pers. comm. March 2011).
No conservation actions are currently known for this species, and habitat preservation is an urgent priority for this salamander's conservation. More information is needed on this species' distribution, population status and natural history.
Red List Status
Listed as Endangered given that its current estimated extent of occurrence is believed to be within 150 km², it is known from two locations, with a population that is increasingly fragmented due to loss of habitat, and there is a continuing decline in the area, extent and quality of its habitat in the Cuchumatanes Mountains of Guatemala.
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 kekchiorum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T194311A8891031. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2011-1.RLTS.T194311A8891031.en