This species is known from the central Andes of Colombia, from Cauca, Huila, and Tolima Departments, where it occurs between 1,950 and 3,000 m asl. Its extent of occurrence (EOO) is estimated to be 8,090 km².
Habitat and Ecology
This species occurs in montane forests and subpáramo (Bernal 2005). It can be found on the ground near streams and also in open areas. It has not been recorded from anthropogenically disturbed habitats. The tadpoles develop in streams.
Before 1999 this was a common species, but it has only been recorded twice since then (once in 2001 and once in 2003) despite several searches. Since 2003, however, there has been little survey effort within the range, and no information is available on current population status; therefore, it is not known if declines are ongoing (O. Cortés pers. comm. August 2014). However, it is apparent that a serious decline has taken place in the past.
The major threats to this species likely include chytridiomycosis, which has been implicated in catastrophic population declines in many other montane species of Atelopus, and habitat loss due to agricultural expansion (including the planting of illegal crops). Water pollution from agriculture is also a threat to the species. Climate change might also be a threat, but this needs to be investigated further.
This species occurs in the Roncevalles protected area (O. Cortés pers comm. August 2014). Further survey work is urgently needed to determine whether or not this species still survives, and if so, whether it has been exposed to chytrid fungus. Additional habitat protection is also needed in view of ongoing habitat loss.
Red List Status
Critically Endangered (CR)
This species was once common, but is now very rare. It has not been seen in recent years; however, there has been little survey effort within its range. Given evidence of past declines and lack of current data, a precautionary approach is needed to the assessment of the species; from the lack of recent records, it is inferred that it is possibly extinct or that an extant population is very small (<50 mature individuals). However, additional sampling effort is urgently needed before it can be declared Extinct or reassessed under a different criterion.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2015. Atelopus simulatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T54551A49537837. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-2.RLTS.T54551A49537837.en .Downloaded on 18 January 2019