Atelopus is a species-rich genus of toads from the Neotropics. Many species of this genus are regarded as vulnerable or endangered because of apparent population declines. In most cases, reasons for declines remain unknown. Conservation efforts are needed, which require a profound knowledge of taxonomy. This paper contributes to the taxonomic status of Atelopus populations from the coastal mountain range of Venezuela. Atelopus cruciger is redescribed on the basis of the neotype and additional material from nine localities. Atelopus vogli here is considered a distinct species (not a junior synonym or subspecies of the former) known only from the type series and a few additional specimens collected at one single locality, which has been severely altered. The latter species lacks (whereas A. cruciger has) color pattern on the dorsum and is (in both sexes) smaller than A. cruciger. The two taxa also differ in hand morphology and characters of the sphenethmoid. Because of population declines in A. cruciger and the absence of recent records of A. vogli, in spite of intensive searches for both taxa, they should be considered as critically endangered. Comprehensive investigation evaluating the population status of both species is urgently recommended.
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Vol. 2004 • No. 2