Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
Adult males reach up to 36 mm and adult females reach at least 48 mm in snout-vent length. The ground color is uniform brown, or lighter brown with small yellowish white blotches that may have brown centers or a line through them. The venter is yellow (Savage 1972).
The genus Atelopus appears to be the most threatened clade of amphibians (La Marca et al. 2005). 60 of the 85 described Atelopus species are classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. At least 30 species appear to be extinct, having been missing from all known localities for at least 8 years (La Marca et al. 2005). Of the surviving species with sufficient data to evaluate population trends, the majority (42 of 52 species, or 81%) have population sizes that have been reduced by at least half (La Marca et al. 2005). Higher-elevation species (those living at least 1000 m asl) have been hit the worst, with 75% (21 of 28) having disappeared entirely (La Marca et al. 2005).
Chytridiomycosis is thought to be a primary factor in the decline and disappearance of species in this genus (La Marca et al. 2005). Most Atelopus species are restricted to very limited areas (no more than two localities) and occur along mid- to high-elevation streams at 1500-3000 m asl (Lötters 2007). This habitat preference is frequently associated with the co-occurrence of chytridiomycosis (La Marca et al. 2005). Although habitat loss has occurred within the ranges of many Atelopus species, it does not appear to be a major factor in the declines of most Atelopus species; 22 species declined despite occurring in protected areas (La Marca et al. 2005). Many Atelopus species are local endemics, putting them at particular risk of extinction, with at least 26 species known only from a single population inhabiting a narrow altitudinal range (La Marca et al. 2005). Due to their restricted ranges, they are also thought to have limited ability to adapt to warming climatic conditions (Lötters 2007).