Task Force Co-coordinators: Dr. Lina M Valencia
and Dr. Juan Manuel Guayasamin
The Atelopus Task Force was officially established in 2020 in response to the need to implement coordinated and collaborative actions to ensure the survival of harlequin toads. Harlequin toads comprise one of the most threatened genera of amphibians on the planet, with 81% of its species Endangered or Critically Endangered. Although only two species are assessed as Extinct, many are reduced to a few individuals in the wild or tens of individuals in captivity, and a total of 40 species have disappeared from their known localities and have not been seen since the early 2000s. The Atelopus Task Force is uniquely positioned to stimulate and conduct scientific research that will inform and advise the conservation of Atelopus and their habitats around the Neotropics.
The Atelopus Task Force provides technical advice to the Atelopus Survival Initiative, supports the assessment of the conservation status ofthe genus and informs the general public of amphibian conservation-related issues and priorities. The Atelopus Survival Initiative (ASI) is a regional collaborative coalition, consisting of on-the-ground conservation organizations, zoos, government institutions, passionate individuals, and local communities. The central goal of ASI is to accelerate and escalate substantial, long-term, range-wide conservation impact for harlequin toads (Atelopus) in the Neotropics. The ASI developed the first comprehensive Harlequin Toad Conservation Action Plan (HTCAP) in 2019. The plan integrates site-based conservation actions with captive breeding efforts to ensure protection of the genus Atelopus through ecological and epidemiological monitoring, education, threat mitigation, and initiatives that build capacity and enable regional networks with nation-wide adaptive management. The ASI mission is simple: to prevent the imminent, continent-wide extinction of Atelopus.
The Atelopus Task Force is composed of ASG and ASI members and provides strategic advice for the implementation of the HTCAP through the ASI. It is composed of nine members of the ASI, as well as any other interested ASG members who can contribute with expertise to the group. This group contributes knowledge in biogeographical, ecological, economic, social, cultural, and regional political contexts, as well as in specific thematic groups.
1. Advise the Atelopus Survival Initiative
The Atelopus Task Force will act as a scientific advisory body to the Atelopus Survival Initiative in their efforts to promote, manage, monitor, and fundraise for the implementation of the Harlequin Toad Conservation Action Plan.
2. Facilitate and catalyze the implementation of the Harlequin Toad Conservation Action Plan
The Atelopus Task Force will develop and lead scientific research on Atelopus to identify suitable mechanisms and opportunities for the implementation of the Harlequin Toad Conservation Action Plan.
3. Promote the Harlequin Toad Action Plan and the Atelopus Survival Initiative
The Atelopus Task Force will act as a voice for Atelopus and actively search for new champions of the species in the scientific community, while ensuring that the ASI goals and plan implementation are appropriately represented and nested within the global Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP).
4. Support ASG’s priorities
The Atelopus Task Force will support the assessment of the conservation status of Atelopus on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and ensure that ASI priorities are inclusive of updating, implementing and informing relevant ACAP priorities.