Two for one: taxonomic shift leads FWS to propose listing of two flatwoods salamander species
73 Fed. Reg. 47258 (Wednesday, August 13, 2008)(DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; Fish and Wildlife Service; 50 CFR Part 17; WS-R4-ES-2008-00822210-1111 FY07 MO-B2 RIN 1018-AU85; Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Endangered Status for Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander; Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat for Frosted Flatwoods Salamander and Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander; Proposed rule; availability of draft economic analysis, and opening of comment period.)
The overall range covered by the reticulated and the frosted flatwoods salamanders is the same as is currently designated for the flatwoods salamander. However, the reticulated flatwoods salamander inhabits the western part of the range and the frosted flatwoods salamander inhabits the eastern part. For more information on the flatwoods salamander, refer to the final listing rule published in the Federal Register on April 1, 1999 (64 FR 15691). In general, most threats for this species (for example, habitat loss, habitat degradation, inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms) are of a historical nature in the majority of the range because breeding ponds supporting 85 percent of frosted flatwoods salamander populations occur on public lands where the habitat is relatively protected. Photo of the frosted flatwoods salamander from Answers.com
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to split the listing under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), of the currently threatened flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum) into two distinct species: frosted flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum) and reticulated flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma bishopi) due to a change in taxonomy. The frosted flatwoods salamander will maintain the status of threatened. However, we propose to list the reticulated flatwoods salamander as endangered under the Act. We also propose to designate critical habitat for both the frosted flatwoods salamander and the reticulated flatwoods salamander under the Act. In total, approximately 30,628 acres (ac) (12,395 hectares (ha)) (23,132 ac (9,363 ha) for the frosted flatwoods salamander and 7,496 ac (3,035 ha) for the reticulated flatwoods salamander) fall within the boundaries of the proposed critical habitat designation, which is located in the panhandle of Florida, southwestern Georgia, and southeastern South Carolina. We also announce the availability of the draft economic analysis for our proposed designation of critical habitat for the frosted and reticulated flatwoods salamanders. The draft economic analysis estimates that, over the period 2009 to 2028, post-designation costs for frosted and reticulated flatwoods salamander conservation-related activities would range between $3.88 million and $6.40 million (at a 3 percent discount rate) and $2.49 million to $4.38 million (at a 7 percent discount rate). Potential impacts are expected to range from $261,000 to $430,000 at 3 percent or $235,000 to $413,000 at 7 percent annually. DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before October 14, 2008. We must receive requests for public hearing by Sept. 29, 2008.
KEITHINKING: The listing amendment will have some effects on the Florida panhandle. Portions of the critical habitat include areas in the State, 19 populations of the reticulated flatwoods salamander are known from Florida, and the species' historic range included the Florida panhandle. In addition, "several relatively recent discoveries of previously unknown reticulated flatwoods salamander breeding sites in Santa Rosa County, Florida, have been made in conjunction with wetland surveys associated with development projects (Cooper 2008). No reticulated flatwoods salamanders have been observed at these degraded sites since completion of the projects (Cooper 2008)."