Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
It was once common, but due to massive population declines (more than 80% over the past fifteen years), Telmatobius culeus is now critically endangered (Benavides et al. 2002). Captive-breeding programs have so far not been successful (Perez Bejar 2005). Although its habitat lies within the Lake Titicaca Reserve, threats include overcollection, introduced trout, lake water extraction, water pollution, and loss of breeding habitat (Stuart et al. 2008). It is not known whether T. culeus is susceptible to chytridiomycosis, but this disease also presents a potential threat (Stuart et al. 2008); it has been speculated that all three Ecuadorian species of Telmatobius have been extirpated by chytridiomycosis (Merino-Viteri et al. 2005), and chytrid infections of Peruvian T. marmoratus have been reported (Seimon et al. 2005; Seimon et al. 2007), as well as Argentinian T. pisanoi (Barrionuevo and Ponssa 2008). Telmatobius species share traits common to amphibian species with higher susceptibility to chytridiomycosis: high altitude distributions, low fecundity, strongly aquatic, and specialized habitat (Barrionuevo and Ponssa 2008).
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