This species is known from much of the central Andes in Peru (from the Regions of Ayacucho, Apurimac, Huancavelica, Junín and Cusco). Its elevational range is 2,700–4,500 m asl. It is known from seven locations and its extent of occurrence (EOO) is approximately 85,298 km2.
Habitat and Ecology
It is a semi-aquatic riparian frog known to inhabit rocky-bottomed streams and soft-bottomed springs among shrublands and grasslands. It has been found in ditches on arable land. Reproduction, egg-laying and tadpole development takes place in springs, streams, and rivers with shallow, slow-moving waters (Sinsch 1986, 1990; Sinsch et al. 1995). Gravid females and breeding males, as well as eggs and tadpoles in all developmental stages (up to four different tadpole cohorts in each season), have been observed throughout the year, suggesting reproduction is continuous (Sinsch 1990).
The population is suspected to be decreasing due to ongoing decline in the quality and extent of its habitat, and there is continuing decline in mature individuals caused by harvesting for human consumption and chytridiomycosis. In Ayacucho, this species was seemingly abundant at 2,500 m asl and higher elevations in the 1950s [Vellard (1951) reported over 200 specimens from 2,760 m asl], but now it is not possible to find it in other streams at comparable elevations (Catenazzi et al. 2013a,b). However, it is still relatively common above 3,800 m asl (A. Catenazzi pers. comm. December 2010). Between 2006 and 2008, tadpoles, adults and juveniles were found to be common in streams and wetlands around 4,000 m asl in Apurimac. Adults were not found in lower areas (ca 3,500 m asl, where human settlements were found), although it was still possible to find tadpoles at these elevations (C. Aguilar pers. comm. December 2010). Two subpopulations have been reported in streams along the PERU LNG natural gas pipeline in the Regions of Ayacucho and and Huancavelica, one of which is the only subpopulation found on the western side of the Andes (Walsh Peru 2005, Catenazzi et al. 2013). During 2010 surveys, in the Regions of Ayacucho and Huancavelica, 70 adults, six juveniles and 550 tadpoles were captured, with the highest density occurring in the Huamanga-Vischongo Watershed Divide (ca 7.25 adults/100 m) and Apacheta (ca 56.5 tadpoles/100 m) (Catenazzi et al. 2013). Since the initial surveys in 2010, there have been no major changes in population abundances along the pipeline. No individuals were found in the Shullcas, Chanchas and Cunas rivers in the Huancayo province, department of Junín, during September–December 2013 surveys (Guerra 2015).
The species is threatened by ongoing decline in the quality and extent of its habitat due to water extraction for the purpose of irrigation, pollution from agrochemicals and domestic waste, and population declines caused by chytridiomycosis and harvesting for human consumption. Chytrid fungus has been reported for this species at a prevalence of >50% in some populations (A. Catenazzi pers. comm. December 2010, Catenazzi et al. 2013a,b). Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis was detected in five Ecological Landscape Units (ELUs) throughout the Regions of Ayacucho and Huancavelica and over a wide elevational range (3,230–4,506 m asl; Catenazzi et al. 2013a).
In Apurimac, Cotabambas province, there was a mine in exploration phase in 2006–2008; one of the mines has had its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approved by the government so it will be operational (C. Aguilar pers. comm. December 2010). In the higher sections of streams, there were no trout, but they were present in the lower reaches, coinciding with human settlements (C. Aguilar pers. comm. December 2010).
In Ayacucho, the heavy use of agrochemicals has been observed and habitat has been altered by the construction and operation of the PERU LNG pipeline (A. Catenazzi pers. comm. April 2017, Catenazzi et al. 2013a). The impact of the pipeline on the reproduction and population abundance of this species remains unknown. Tadpoles are especially vulnerable to modifications in their lotic environments (Catenazzi et al. 2013), as they spend several months in water before completing growth and metamorphosis (> 3 months; Sinsch 1986, 1990).
This species occurs in the National Reserve of Pampa Galeras. It might be present in the Nor Yauyos-Cochas Landscape Reserve, although this requires confirmation. It is listed as Vulnerable (VU) in Peru and has legal protection provided by the Categorization in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna (Decreto Supremo Nº004-2014-MINAGRI), which bans all hunting, capture, possession, transport or export of the species for commercial purposes.
There is a need to regulate its harvesting and to reduce the local water pollution. Continuous monitoring for Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infections, as well as the establishment of a management plan to mitigate the transmission and impact of chytridiomycosis is recommended.
Given that chytrid has been found in this species, populations should be monitored closely to determine the infection dynamic and, if possible, ameliorate disease outbreaks and potential population crashes. Further studies should monitor trends in harvest levels. In addition, there is a need to investigate the presence of this species at lower elevations, and assess the impact of different threats on its population levels.
Red List Status
Near Threatened (NT)
Listed as Near Threatened because although this species is fairly widespread—with an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 85,298 km2—it occurs in seven threat-defined locations, there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat caused by water extraction for the purpose of irrigation, pollution from agrochemicals and domestic waste, and continuing decline in the number of mature individuals caused by chytridiomycosis and harvesting for human consumption, thus making the species close to qualifying for Vulnerable.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2017. Telmatobius jelskii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T57346A3058839. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T57346A3058839.en .Downloaded on 20 January 2019