Trends, Threats and Decline
Although there is no detailed long term population study data for the Rio carauta stubfoot toad, the recent trend in species population is that of precipitous decline, with about eighty percent of the population estimated to be lost in the current decade. There are no confirmed records of this species since 1973, but it is not known with certainty if this absence of observations is indicative of a species decline, or merely a paucity of survey effort. In any case, A. carauta must be regarded as a rare species.
The IUCN has estimated the current rate of species loss by analogy with events in population decline for other Antelopus high altitude anurans in this region of the Andean Range. The principal cause for this dramatic loss in numbers is deemed to be chytridiomycosis. (La Marca et al. 2005) Additional pressures on the species are present due to deforestation and subsequent habitat loss and fragmentation.
Agricultural land conversion is an ongoing threat, and the worldwide human population explosion is placing an ever-growing demand for food crops, illegal drug crops and grazing of domestic livestock; the resultant economic pressure for further agricultural land conversion even at the relatively high altitudes of the species range. Furthermore, agricultural, drug trafficking and human settlement uses compete for surface water resources, further diminishing the availability of breeding waters.
There are also threats posed by collection of anurans in this region for resale as pets, including export activity. There is a lack of data to identify the numbers of this species which may being taken for the pet trade.
To the extent that there are future climate oscillations that could involve precipitation changes, there could be impacts to the species range, by marginal reduction in breeding waters. Thus, any persistent climate warming or precipitation decline could marginally shrink the species range, but such climate arguments are conjectural for this species.
Virtually no taxon specific conservation measures are in place; however, a portion of the species range lies within the nationally protected area Parque Nacional Natural Las Orquideas in Antioquia, within northwest Colombia. Due to the rarity of the species and its status as Critically Endangered, conservation efforts will most likely need to include captive breeding of this anuran. There are no international protection schemes in place specific to the subject taxon.
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