Atelopus zeteki


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Atelopus zeteki
Species Authority: Dunn, 1933
Common Name(s):
English Cerro Campana Stubfoot Toad, Golden Arrow Poison Frog, Golden Frog, Panamanian Golden Frog, Zetek's Golden Frog
Spanish Rana Dorada
Taxonomic Notes: Molecular data and morphological, ecological, and demographic analyses suggest that the Panamanian golden frogs and their kin (the Atelopus varius-zeteki clade) are comprised of five distinct forms (Zippel et al. 2006). Additional analyses identify phenotypic and genetic differentiation consistent with proposed Evolutionarily Significant Units (ESUs), and support the status of Atelopus varius and Atelopus zeteki as separate species (Richards and Knowles 2007).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A2ace ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2008-10-21
Assessor(s): Karen Lips, Frank Solís, Roberto Ibáñez, César Jaramillo, Querube Fuenmayor
Reviewer(s): Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson, Neil Cox and Bruce Young)
Listed as Critically Endangered because of an observed drastic decline in population and extent of occurrence, estimated to be more than 80% over the last ten years, probably due to chytridiomycosis.
2006 Critically Endangered (IUCN 2006)
2006 Critically Endangered
2004 Critically Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to Panama, occurring east of the main Tabasará ridge in Provincias Coclé and Panamá at 335-1,315m asl.
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species was reasonably common at a number of localities, and has been recorded as recently as 2005, but it is apparently less abundant north of El Copé, in comparison with observations in 1980. It is very rare or extinct on Cerro Campana. It has been extinct in the El Valle de Antón for approximately 40 years. In recent years, populations have been declining catastrophically due to chytridiomycosis, and the well-known El Copé population collapsed and disappeared over the course of a few months in late 2004 (K. Lips pers. comm.). The chytridiomycosis epidemic appears to be spreading from west to east through Panama, and populations in the eastern part of its range are now at severe risk of disappearing.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It is a terrestrial species of tropical montane forest, with breeding and larval development taking place in forest streams.
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The major threat is likely to be chytridiomycosis, which has led to catastrophic population declines in many other species of montane Atelopus. The deforestation of habitat for both agriculture and general infrastructure development, water pollution, and over collection for the pet trade are also threats to this species. In 2003, a road from Sorá to El Valle was opened along the ridge of the Cordillera Central, resulting in heavy sedimentation of most streams on the Pacific and Caribbean slopes, which has negatively affected a significant portion of the habitat used by this species (R. Ibañez, in litt. to E. La Marca).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is protected in Panama by national legislation (as Atelopus varius zeteki) decree No. 23 of January 30, 1967. It has been recorded from the protected areas of Parque Nacional Altos de Campana and Parque Nacional Omar Torrijos Herrera. A successful captive-breeding programme involving many zoos in North America is in place, although no re-introductions will be made until existing threats can be addressed. An ex-situ population of this species is held at the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center in Panama; eggs and/or larvae have been produced to date (Edgardo Griffith pers. comm. September 2007).

Bibliography [top]

Cocroft, R.B., McDiarmid, R.W., Jaslow, A.P. and Ruiz-Carranza, P.M. 1990. Vocalizations of eight species of Atelopus (Anura: Bufonidae) with comments on communication in the genus. Copeia: 631-643.

Daly, J.W., Gusovsky, F., Myers, C.W., Yotsu-Yamashita, M. and Yasumoto, T. 1994. First occurrence of tetrodotoxin in a dendrobatid frog (Colostethus inguinalis), with further reports for the bufonid genus Atelopus. Toxicon: 279-285.

Ibáñez, R., Solís, F., Jaramillo, C. and Rand, S. 2000. An overview of the herpetology of Panama. In: J.D. Johnson, R.G. Webb and O.A. Flores-Villela (eds), Mesoamerican Herpetology: Systematics, Zoogeography and Conservation, pp. 159-170. The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, Texas.

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.2). Available at: (Accessed: 29 June 2010).

La Marca, E., Lips, K.R., Lötters, S., Puschendorf, R., Ibáñez, R., Rueda-Almonacid, J.V., Schulte, R., Marty, C., Castro, F., Manzanilla-Puppo, J., Garcia-Perez, J.E., Toral, E., Bolaños, F., Chaves, G., Pounds, J.A. and Young, B. 2005. Catastrophic population declines and extinctions in Neotropical harlequin frogs (Bufonidae: Atelopus). Biotropica: 190-201.

Lindquist, E.D. 1995. Atelopus zeteki (Panamanian golden frog). Pure tonal vocalization. Herpetological Review: 200-201.

Lindquist, E.D. and Hetherington, T.E. 1996. Field studies on visual and acoustic signaling in the "earless" Panamanian golden frog, Atelopus zeteki. Journal of Herpetology: 347-354.

Lindquist, E.D. and Hetherington, T.E. 1998. Semaphoring in an earless frog: the origin of a novel visual signal. Animal Cognition: 83-87.

Lindquist, E.D. and Hetherington, T.E. 1998. Tadpoles and juveniles of the Panamanian golden frog, Atelopus zeteki (Bufonidae), with information on development of coloration and patterning. Herpetologica: 370-376.

Lindquist, E.D., Hetherington, T.E. and Badgley, D.D. 1999. Atelopus zeteki (Panamanian golden frog). Attempted predation. Herpetological Review: 36.

Lötters, S. 1996. The Neotropical Toad Genus Atelopus. Checklist - Biology - Distribution. Vences, M. and Glaw, F. Verlags GbR, Köln, Germany.

Pounds, J.A., Bustamante, M.R., Coloma, L.A., Consuegra, J.A., Fogden, M.P.L., Foster, P.N., La Marca, E., Masters, K.L., Merino-Viteri, A., Puschendorf, R., Ron, S.R., Sánchez-Azofeifa, G.A., Still, C.J. and Young, B.E. 2006. Widespread amphibian extinctions from epidemic disease driven by global warming. Nature 439: 161-167.

Ramos, C.W., Pimentel, N. and Martinez-Cortes, V. 2002. Karyotype of the endemic golden frog Atelopus zeteki (Dunn) from Panama. Caribbean Journal of Science: 268-270.

Richards, C.L. and Knowles, L.L. 2007. Tests of phenotypic and genetic concordance and their application to the conservation of Panamanian golden frogs (Anura, Bufonidae). Molecular Ecology doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2007.03369.x: 1-15.

Young, B., Sedaghatkish, G., Roca, E. and Fuenmayor, Q. 1999. El Estatus de la Conservación de la Herpetofauna de Panamá: Resumen del Primer Taller Internacional sobre la Herpetofauna de Panamá. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia.

Zippel, K. 2002. Conserving the Panamanian golden frog: Proyecto Rana Dorada. Herpetological Review: 11-12.

Zippel, K.C., Ibáñez D., R., Lindquist, E.D., Richards, C.L., Jaramillo A., C.A., and Griffith, E.J. 2006. Implicaciones en la conservación de las ranas doradas de Panamá, asociadas con su revisión taxonómica. Herpetotropicos 3(1): 29-39.

Citation: Karen Lips, Frank Solís, Roberto Ibáñez, César Jaramillo, Querube Fuenmayor 2010. Atelopus zeteki. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 28 March 2015.
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