The Onore’s Harlequin Frog - A toad that jumped from its description to its extinction
Although it is commonly known as Onore’s Harlequin Frog, Atelopus onorei is actually a toad in the Bufonidae family, which is distinguished from other Atelopus species by its color patterns in yellow-orange and green, and by its aqua-blue iris.
This beautiful species was described just in 2007 from specimens formerly allocated to Atelopus bomolochos, and is only known from its type locality (near Río Chipla and a nearby creek, in the Azuay Basin of the Cordillera Occidental of Ecuador, Azuay Province, Ecuador).
As many species of harlequin frogs (the genus Atelopus) across Central and South America, the Onore’s harlequin frogs are vanishing, even from seemingly pristine areas. So, just a year after its description, Atelopus onorei was classified in 2008 on the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered and Possibly Extinct.
According to Coloma et al. (2014), from the Jambatu Center for Research and Conservation of Amphibians, AnfibiosWebEcuador, Atelopus onorei was abundant at the type locality until 1990, when it was seen last. Occasional search efforts in subsequent years (1992-1993 and 2010) were unsuccessful.
Although some authors believe that the decline of populations of this species and others may have been caused by pathogens such as chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), it is considered that this is also a consequence of climate change.
Photo credit: (via ©Luis A. Coloma/AmphibiaWebEcuador | Locality: Ecuador
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