Ensuring harlequin toad conservation in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia

Andres Andres Rocha Usuga

Harlequin toads (Atelopus) are the most threatened group of amphibians in the world, with 81% of species classified as Endangered or Critically Endangered. Disease transmission by the Bd fungus and habitat loss and degradation have been the main drivers of the extinction of Atelopus, with more than 75% of the high mountain harlequin toad species possibly extinct. However, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (SNSM) is the only place in the world with apparently stable populations of high-altitude harlequin toads. The SNSM is home to 5 endemic and threatened Atelopus species, including Atelopus laetissimus and Atelopus arsyecue (in addition to 17 endemic amphibians). This project will focus on promoting the conservation of these two threatened species of harlequin toads (A. laetissimus (EN) and A. arsyecue (CR)), to better understand their population dynamics, as well as design and implement conservation actions together with local communities to mitigate and reduce the main threats to their survival. Methods will include population and epidemiological monitoring programs and implementation of effective conservation actions to protect Atelopus and its habitats.

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