Sunday, April 19, 2020

[Herpetology • 2020] Back from Extinction: Rediscovery of the Harlequin Toad Atelopus mindoensis Peters, 1973 in Ecuador

Atelopus mindoensis Peters, 1973

in Barrio Amorós, Costales, Vieira, et al., 2020.
Herpetology Notes. 13

Harlequin toads (genus Atelopus Duméril & Bibron, 1841; Bufonidae) are the vertebrate genus that appears to have suffered the most dramatic population declines throughout their range in the Neotropics over the past several decades (La Marca, 2005; Scheele et al., 2019). As a focal point for harlequin toad diversity, Ecuador possesses the second-highest number of species (25), and of these, 18 (72%) are endemic to Ecuador (Centro Jambatu, 2011–2017). Thirteen of these 25 species (52%) have not been seen since the late 1980s or early 1990s (La Marca et al., 2005; Coloma et al., 2010). As a consequence, all 25 species are currently categorized as threatened in Ecuador according to IUCN Red List criteria (IUCN, 2012): ten are classified as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct), 14 as Critically Endangered, and one as Endangered (Centro Jambatu, 2011–2020). 

One of the species in the CR (Possibly Extinct) category is Atelopus mindoensis Peters, 1973 (IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, 2018), which was described from Mindo, Pichincha Province, Ecuador by Peters (1973), and which has been recorded from the provinces of Cotopaxi, Pichincha, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, and Esmeraldas, with all locations situated on the western slopes of the Andes between 500 and 2200 m in elevation (Lötters, 1996; IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, 2018). Arteaga et al. (2013) mentioned that the species was absent from suitable habitats in Mindo, its type locality. Individuals of A. mindoensis were last seen alive on 7 May 1989 between Mindo and Nanegalito, Pichincha Province, as reported by Coloma et al. (2016a). The species was considered as possibly extinct by Coloma et al. (2016a).


Figure 1. (A) The first individual of Atelopus mindoensis seen in the wild since 1989, a juvenile (SVL ca. 12 mm) photographed in situ. (B) Young A. mindoensis observed in mossy habitat by day. (C) Adult male A. mindoensis in frontal view, showing the ventral colouration. (D) Cryptic dorsal patterning seen in A. mindoensis, here displayed by the individual as in (C).
Photos by Eric Osterman (A), Melissa Costales (B), and Jose Vieira (C, D).




César L. Barrio Amorós, Melissa Costales, Jose Vieira, Eric Osterman, Hinrich Kaiser and Alejandro Arteaga. 2020. Back from Extinction: Rediscovery of the Harlequin Toad Atelopus mindoensis Peters, 1973 in Ecuador. Herpetology Notes. 13; 325-328.