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 Rio Pescado Stubfoot Toad

© Luis Coloma
 
Atelopus balios, Ecuador

This species lives on riverbanks and lowland rainforest in southwestern Ecuador. Little is known about their breeding habits, but it is likely that they breed in streams like other species in the genus.

The stubfoot toads — or harlequin toads as they are sometimes referred — have been particularly hard hit by amphibian declines and extinctions, with only a handful of species clinging on to survival. The Rio Pascado stubfoot toad population has dropped dramatically in recent years; scientists have estimated a decline of more than 80 percent over the last three generations.

The species' decline is likely a result of the chytrid fungal disease. However, the low altitude of the species' range provides a glimmer of hope that the species may persist; the disease normally occurs at higher altitudes in the tropics. Habitat degradation and loss — due to agriculture and logging — and pollution also continue to be very serious threats.

FOUND! September 2010.  Photo: © Eduardo Toral-Contreras

The known range of the species is outside of any protected area, and if it survives, urgent conservation action will be necessary to stem the destruction of its habitat.

Status: Rediscovered after 15 years in Ecuador by Eduardo Toral-Contreras and Elicio Tapia. Researchers feared that the deadly amphibian Chytrid fungus had wiped out this species along with many other closely related species in Ecuador. This find is significant and very encouraging, offering an opportunity to protect this attractive and rare species. Learn more about the team that found this species »


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