This species has the broadest distribution of any Telmatobius species. It is known from the Andean region of southern Peru, northern and central Bolivia and northern Chile. It is recorded in Peru from the Lake Titicaca and Cusco areas (Cusco and Puno Regions), with uncertain records from Ayacucho (not mapped). In Bolivia, it is recorded from the departments of La Paz, Oruro, and the highlands of Cochabamba. It is present in the altiplano of northern Chile (Parinacota, Lauca River, and Chungara Lake, Parinacota Province), and its range has recently been extended southwards to Cancosa (Tarapacá region; Sáez et al. 2014). It is also recorded from three localities in Argentina (Jujuy Province on the Bolivian border), although the taxonomic status of these specimens is unclear. It occurs from 1,800-5,244 m asl.
Habitat and Ecology
It is a riparian, semi-aquatic frog of streams, waterfalls and slow moving water in montane grasslands and shrublands. It can be found at the edge of the lake, in streams and ponds created by deglaciation, and bogs. Breeding takes place in small lakes, streams and rivers with good water quality. It has also been observed to reproduce in both wet and dry seasons, using high elevation bogs (R. Santa Cruz pers. comm. July 2015).
In Peru it is locally common, although declines have been reported for the population of Lake Sibinacocha (Seimon et al. 2006). Population surveys carried out from 2003-2009 have recorded fewer individuals found from 2005 onwards. In 2008, 3-day surveys in Lake Sibinacocha by T. Seimon did not record a single individual; however, over the course of ten days in 2009 two individuals were found by the same researcher (A. Catenazzi pers. comm. January 2010). There is a risk that this species may become locally extirpated at Sibinacocha. In the province of Chucuito, Puno, there was a reasonable number of individuals up until March 2010 (C. Aguilar pers. comm. January 2011).
In Bolivia it is also thought to be locally common, however the taxonomic identity of the whole population across its Bolivian range (including some very isolated populations) is unclear and studies need to be carried out for verification (A. Muñoz pers. comm. August 2015).
In Chile the species is reported to have large populations, and to be abundant in high plateau streams.
This or a closely related species is currently subject to human consumption in southern Peru (Angulo 2008), and is susceptible to eutrophication of waterways through agricultural activities (livestock and agrochemicals). It is not currently threatened in Chile.
The species has tested positive for Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) infection (Seimon et al. 2005, 2006) in the Cordillera Vilcanota of southern Peru and specimens exhibited clinical symptoms of chytridiomycosis. Healthy specimens, however, were found in the region of Puno, also in southern Peru, during fieldwork conducted in February 2006 (I. De la Riva pers. comm.). There is evidence of upward range expansion of this and another two anuran species to newly available habitat brought about by recent deglaciation in the Andes of Peru. The large increase in the upper limit of known Bd infections (from 4,112-5,348 m asl) also expands the spatial domain of potential Bd pathogenicity (Seimon et al. 2006).
Red List Status
This species is a complex of more than one species.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2015. Telmatobius marmoratus. In: IUCN 2014