The Fish and Wildlife Service has published the following proposed and final Endangered Species Act rules since April 1, 2010. Along with publications to add plants and animals to the endangered and threatened species list are two actions that recognize the improved status of a fish and an aquatic snail, and one that would remove a snake from the list due to its recovery.
Details on these rules, and on critical habitat designations and listing petition findings, are available at the Service's library of Federal Register publications: http://www.fws.gov/policy/frsystem.
On August 3, 2010, the Service listed five species of penguins--the yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes), white-flippered penguin (Eudyptula minor albosignata), Fiordland crested penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus), Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti), and erect-crested penguin (Eudyptes sclateri)--as threatened.
These species are found in New Zealand, Chile, and Peru. They face habitat loss, predation, and other human-related threats. For example, with the Humboldt penguin, the destruction of nesting substrate due to guano collection, and incidental mortality from fisheries by-catch and fishing with explosives, are also responsible for the decline of this species.
Two Ecuadoran Birds
On July 27, the Service listed two species of birds from Ecuador as endangered. The black-breasted puffleg (Eriocnemis nigrivestis) is a hummingbird native to Ecuador's Volcan Pichincha. The medium tree finch (Camarhynchus pauper) lives in the moist highland forests on the island of Floreana in the Galapagos Islands.
The black-breasted puffleg population has declined up to 79 percent in the past 12 years due to destruction, alteration, conversion, and fragmentation of its habitat. Its small population, which continues to decline, makes it particularly vulnerable to extinction.
The medium tree finch is at risk primarily due to an introduced parasitic fly, Philornis downsi. The effects in finches are severe: high nestling mortality, lower fledgling success, reduced nestling growth, and reduced hemoglobin levels in nestlings. The clearing of native vegetation for agriculture and ranching, the destruction and degradation of habitat caused by introduced animals and plants, and predation also threaten the continued existence of this bird.
Two Hawaiian Damselflies
On June 24, the Service listed two species of Hawaiian damselflies as endangered. The flying earwig Hawaiian damselfly (Megalagrion nesiotes) historically occurred on the islands of Hawai'i and Maui but is now found only on the latter. The Pacific Hawaiian damselfly (M. pacificum) once lived on all of the main Hawaiian Islands (except Kaho'olawe and Ni'ihau) but now occurs only on the islands of Hawai'i, Maui, and Moloka'i.
Damselflies are close relatives of dragonflies, which they resemble in appearance. With the extensive modification of stream and wetland habitats and the degradation of native forests, Hawaii's native damselflies, including the two species most recently listed, experienced a tremendous reduction in habitat. In addition, predation by a number of nonnative species that have been both intentionally and, in some cases, inadvertently introduced into the Hawaiian Islands is a continuing threat to all of the state's native damselflies.
In some good news, the Service reclassified the Oregon chub (Oregonichthys crameri) on April 23 from endangered to the less critical category of threatened, reflecting the species' rebound from the brink of extinction.
The Oregon chub is a small minnow found only in the Willamette River Basin in western Oregon. It thrives in slack water habitats such as beaver ponds, oxbows, side channels, backwater sloughs, low gradient tributaries, and flooded marshes that provide aquatic vegetation for concealment and spawning.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and private landowners played important roles in restoring the species' habitat. Facilitating this cooperation were innovative conservation tools such as Safe Harbor Agreements, which give landowners incentives to create and restore habitat for listed species on private lands.
The Service listed the chub in 1993 as endangered after extensive alteration of the Willamette and its tributaries resulted in the loss of many sloughs and side channels that provided important habitat. Nonnative fish became established throughout the Willamette basin and are now considered the greatest threat to the chub's survival.
Through the Oregon Chub Recovery Plan, a team of state and federal agencies funded extensive surveys that led to the discovery of new populations. In addition, successful reintroductions established nine new populations within its historical range. These actions dramatically improved the known status of the Oregon chub. Currently, 38 known populations are distributed throughout the Willamette Valley.
Two Safe Harbor Agreements are in place to guide management of Oregon chub populations on private lands, and the Service has completed a programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement to make it easier for more private landowners to participate.
Forty-eight Kaua'i Species
On April 13, the Service listed 48 species native to the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i as endangered. Forty five of them are plants. The names follow, with available Hawaiian names in parentheses: Astelia waialealae (pa'iniu), Canavalia napaliensis (awikiwiki), Chamaesyce eleanoriae ('akoko), Chamaesyce remyi var. kauaiensis ('akoko), Chamaesyce remyi var. remyi fakoko), Charpentiera densiflora (papala), Cyanea eleeleensis (haha), Cyanea kuhihewa (haha), Cyrtandra oenobarba (hiiwale), Dubautia imbricata ssp. imbricata (na'ena'e), Dubautia plantaginea ssp. magnifolia (na'ena'e), Dubautia waialealae (na'ena'e), Geranium kauaiense (nohoanu), Keysseria erici, Keysseria, helenae, Labordia helleri (kamakahala), Labordia pumila (kamakahala), Lysimachia daphnoides (lehua makanoe), Melicope degeneri (alani), Melicope paniculata (alani), Melicope puberula (alani), Myrsine mezii (kolea), Pittosporum napaliense (ho'awa), Platydesma rostrata (pilo kea lau li'i), Pritchardia hardyi (loulu), Psychotria grandiflora (kopiko), Psychotria hobdyi (kopiko), Schiedea attenuata, Stenogyne kealiae, Cyanea kolekoleensis, Cyanea dolichopoda, Cyrtandra paliku, Diellia mannii, Doryopteris angelica, Dryopteris crinalis var. podosorus, Dubautia kalalauensis, Dubautia kenwoodii, Lysimachia iniki, Lysimachia pendens, Lysimachia scopulensis, Lysimachia venosa, Myrsine knudsenii, Phyllostegia renovans, Tetraplasandra bisattenuata, and Tetraplasandra flynnii.
Also listed were two bird species, the akekee (Loxops caeruleirostris) and akikiki (Oreomystis bairdi), and a picture-wing fly (Drosophila sharpi).
All of these species are threatened by habitat destruction or modification by feral nonnative ungulates including pigs, goats, and deer. Several are threatened by fire, landslides, and flooding. Some are also imperiled by predation, competition from nonnative plants, lack of reproduction (possibly due to the loss of native pollinators for the plants), introduced diseases, and collection.
The 45 plant species include a variety of ferns, vines, shrubs, and trees found nowhere else in the world. Twenty-three of the plant species number fewer than 50 known individuals remaining in the wild, and some have not been seen for several years, although they are believed to exist in remote areas. One fern, Diellia manii, was thought to be extinct since the early 1900s, but a single individual was rediscovered in 2002 at Koke'e State Park. As of March 2010, 67 individuals had been found.
On June 29, 2010, the Service reinstated its December 5, 2002, proposal to list the mountain plover (Charadrius montanus) as threatened, but without a proposed special rule under section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act.
The mountain plover is a small, migratory terrestrial shorebird inhabiting open, flat lands with sparse vegetation, including barren agricultural fields. On grasslands, they often inhabit areas with a history of disturbance by burrowing rodents such as prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.), native herbivores, or domestic livestock. Mountain plovers breed in the western Great Plains and Rocky Mountain states from the Canadian border to northern Mexico. They winter in similar habitat in California, southern Arizona, Texas, and Mexico.
Conversion of grassland habitat, along with certain agricultural practices, likely contributed to the mountain plover's decline.
Five Southeastern Fishes
The Service proposed on June 24 to list five fish species in the southeastern U.S. as endangered: the Cumberland darter (Etheostoma susanae), rush darter (Etheostoma phytophilum), yellowcheek darter (Etheostoma moorei), chucky madtom (Noturus crypticus), and laurel dace (Phoxinus saylori).
The Cumberland darter inhabits streams in the upper Cumberland River system of Kentucky and Tennessee. Rush darters are found only within the Tombigbee-Black Warrior drainage in Alabama. The yellowcheek darter occurs in the Little Red River basin in Arkansas. Laurel dace are found in seven streams within the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. The chucky madtom, a small catfish, is found in the upper Tennessee River system in Tennessee. Since 2000, only three individuals of this species have been collected from a single stream (Little Chucky Creek).
The primary threats to all five fish species include the reduction of habitats and ranges, small population sizes, and vulnerability to natural or human induced catastrophic events such as pollution and toxic spills. The most significant of these impacts is siltation (excess sediments suspended or deposited in a stream) that can result from such activities as resource extraction (e.g., coal mining, logging, natural gas development), agriculture, road construction, and urban development.
Three Colorado Plants
The Service proposed on June 23 to list three plant species from western Colorado.
The Pagosa skyrocket (Ipomopsis polyantha) is a rare biennial that grows only on shale outcrops in and around Pagosa Springs in Archuleta County. Most of its suitable habitat is on private lands that are primed for residential, commercial, and agricultural development. Road construction and trampling by livestock are additional threats, although the species may be compatible with light grazing. This species was proposed for listing as endangered.
The Parachute beardtongue (Penstemon debilis), also known as Parachute penstemon, is an extremely rare plant that grows only on oil shale outcrops within the Green River Formation in Garfield County, including private and federal lands of the Roan Plateau. Only about 4,000 plants are known to exist. Most are on private land owned by a natural gas and oil shale production company. In recent years, the region has experienced a natural gas development boom. That growth brings many potential hazards to the Parachute beardtongue, including the construction of roads, well pads, evaporation ponds, and pipeline corridors. The largest of the Parachute beardtongue's seven known occurrences is an area owned by an energy development company, which intends to develop up to three natural gas drilling pads in the vicinity. This species was proposed for listing as threatened.
Also proposed as a threatened species is the DeBeque phacelia (Phacelia submutica), a rare annual that grows in the clay soils of the Wasatch Formation in Mesa and Garfield counties. This species, too, is threatened by habitat degradation from natural gas exploration and production. Approximately 78 percent of the occupied habitat is on public land leased by the Bureau of Land Management for oil and gas drilling. Impacts to known DeBeque phacelia locations on federal land are mostly being avoided by careful placement of pipelines, well pads, and associated facilities. However, the cumulative effect of new energy projects may make protection of the habitat more difficult.
Following major strides towards the recovery of the tulotoma snail (Tulotoma, magnifica), the Service proposed on June 22 to reclassify this species from endangered to the category of threatened.
The tulotoma is an aquatic snail found in Alabama, generally living in riffles and shoals with moderate to strong currents. By 1992, when it was listed as endangered, the snail had disappeared from 98 percent of its historical range. It was only known to survive in five areas within the lower Coosa River drainage in Alabama. With an extremely reduced range, the fragmented populations were highly vulnerable to pollution and random catastrophic events such as droughts and contaminant spills.
In 2000, the Mobile River Basin Aquatic Ecosystem Recovery Plan outlined the work needed to upgrade the status of the tulotoma snail. Recovery actions benefitting the species include the location of additional populations, population monitoring, the establishment of minimum flows below Jordan Dam to improve habitat conditions, the implementation of pulsing flows below Logan Martin Dam to improve dissolved oxygen in that reach, and the development of watershed management plans to address nonpoint source pollution (pollution that does not originate from just one location) in the lower Coosa and the Alabama River basins. The known range of the tulotoma snail has increased from less than two percent to 10 percent of its historical range.
"The improved status of the tulotoma snail is a direct result of coordinated efforts by the Service and its partners, including state and federal agencies, the Alabama Power Company, and the Alabama Clean Water Partnership," said Cindy Dohner, the Service's Southeast Regional Director.
As a threatened species, the tulotoma snail will continue to receive protection under the Endangered Species Act. Its range remains highly fragmented, and the populations are still vulnerable to pollution, drought, and other catastrophic events.
Lake Erie Watersnake
The Lake Erie watersnake (Nerodia sipedon insularum), a harmless, non-venomous species once threatened with extinction, has responded well to measures aimed at restoring its population and reducing threats. In recognition of its recovery, the snake was proposed on June 1 for removal from Endangered Species Act protection.
The Lake Erie watersnake inhabits offshore islands in western Lake Erie in Ohio and Ontario, Canada. In 1999, it was listed as threatened due to intentional killing and the loss of its shoreline habitat to development. Subsequent recovery efforts have included habitat conservation and outreach to residents and visitors about the animal's benign nature.
The Lake Erie watersnake population grew to about 8,600 by 2008, exceeding the minimum population level specified in the recovery plan. About 300 acres (120 hectares) of inland habitat and 11 miles (18 kilometers) of shoreline have been protected for the snake since it was listed.
Partners in the recovery program have included the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Northern Illinois University, Lake Erie Islands Chapter of the Black Swamp Conservancy, Western Reserve Land Conservancy, Put-in-Bay Township Park District, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and Ohio State University (Stone Laboratory).
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||proposals for endangered species laws|
|Publication:||Endangered Species Bulletin|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2010|
|Previous Article:||"Partnering up": cooperative Conservation on the Rolling Stone Ranch.|
|Next Article:||Frequently used terms.|