IUCN threat status:

Critically Endangered (CR)

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Atelopus elegans is a slender-bodied toad with long limbs and digits, except for the first two foretoes and the first hindtoe, which are unusually short. The geographic distribution of this species consists of two discrete regions: low-altitude rainforest habitats in northwestern Ecuador and southwestern Colombia, and a similar habitat on Gorgona Island 30 km off the Pacific coast of Colombia. Populations on the South American mainland are yellow-orange with a black marbled pattern and are critically endangered. The last documented sighting of this species in mainland South America was in November 2002. The causes of this species' decline remain unknown but likely include habitat degradation and/or chytridiomycosis, a potentially lethal fungal disease. In contrast, the population on Gorgona Island is brown with a pattern of light stripes surrounded by dark stripes on the face and flanks, closely resembling the sympatric dendrobatid frog Epipedobates boulengeri. This population remains abundant, but it may actually represent a different species from the mainland A. elegans. Relatively little is known about the behavior or ecology of this species, although it is believed to breed in streams.


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