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ESAblawg is an educational effort by Keith W. Rizzardi. Correspondence with this site does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Photos or links may be copyrighted (but used with permission, or as fair use). ESA blawg is published with a Creative Commons License.

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florida gators... never threatened!

If you ain't a Gator, you should be! Alligators (and endangered crocs) are important indicator species atop their food chains, with sensitivity to pollution and pesticides akin to humans. See ESA blawg. Gator blood could be our pharmaceutical future, too. See ESA musing.


Follow the truth.

"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." -- Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, December 27, 1820.


Thanks, Kevin.

KEVIN S. PETTITT helped found this blawg. A D.C.-based IT consultant specializing in Lotus Notes & Domino, he also maintains Lotus Guru blog.

« FWS designates critical habitat for Oregon wetland plant species. | Main| Court stops California turtle advocacy group's effort to re-litigate State Department certification process, but Florida group can fight on. »

FWS lists two Ecuadorian species -- Darwin's medium tree finch, and the black-breasted puffleg -- as endangered

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75 Fed. Reg. 43853 / Vol. 75, No. 143 / Tuesday, July 27, 2010 / Rules and Regulations
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS-R9-IA-2008-0108 / 90100-1660-1FLA B6 / RIN 1018-AW01
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Final Rule to List the Medium Tree-Finch (Camarhynchus pauper) as Endangered Throughout Its Range
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), determine endangered status for the medium treefinch (Camarhynchus pauper) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This species is native to Floreana Island, one of the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. This rule implements the protections of the Act for this species. DATE: This final rule is effective August 26, 2010.

One of the 14 species of Darwin’s finches, also known as the Charles tree-finch, the Santa Maria tree-finch, and the Floreana tree-finch, the medium tree-finch’s lives in a lush evergreen cloud forest dominated by Scalesia pedunculata (daisy tree), but forages at more than one level within its habitat; it can be found foraging from the understory (undergrowth) to the canopy.  The medium tree-finch uses its powerful tip-biting bill to search under twigs and foliage, probe crevices in the bark of trees, and cut into tough woody tissues in search of insect larvae, its primary food source.  As this linked photo shows, the species also feeds, to a lesser extent, on seeds, nectar, young buds, and leaves.  Photo above from

EXCERPT:  The medium tree-finch is identified as a critically endangered species under Ecuadorian law, Decree No. 3,516–Unified Text of the Secondary Legislation of the Ministry of Environment (ECOLEX 2003b). As of 2010, this poorly known species is considered ‘‘Critically endangered’’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This is because it (1) has a very small range, (2) is restricted to a single island, and (3) recent information suggests that it is declining rapidly due to the parasite Philornis downsi...  The clearing of native vegetation for agriculture, the destruction and degradation of habitat caused by introduced animals and plants (Factor A); disease and predation, particularly by a parasitic fly (Factor C); inadequate existing regulatory mechanisms (Factor D); and small population size (Factor E) are threats to this species. Philornis downsi is the most severe threat to the survival of the medium tree-finch (Causton et al. 2006). As shown in numerous studies , the fitness costs of P. downsi parasitism in finches is severe, with high incidences of nestling mortality. This parasite causes lower fledgling success, reduced nestling growth, and a reduction in hemoglobin levels (i.e. anemia) in nestlings. Currently, the medium tree-finch has the highest P. downsi parasite intensity of all the finch species found on Floreana, and the second highest of any finch species studied in the Galapagos Islands


75 Fed. Reg. 43844 / Vol. 75, No. 143 / Tuesday, July 27, 2010 / Rules and Regulations
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / FWS-R9-IA-2008-0116 / 90100-1660-1FLA B6 / RIN 1018–AW38
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Determination on Listing the Black-Breasted Puffleg as Endangered Throughout its Range; Final Rule
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, determine endangered status under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended, for the black-breasted puffleg (Eriocnemis nigrivestis), a hummingbird native to Ecuador. DATES: This rule becomes  effective August 26, 2010.

The black-breasted puffleg is endemic to Ecuador and is a member of the hummingbird family (Trochilidae). It has distinctive white leg plumage (ergo, the name ‘‘puffleg’’), but is distinctive among other species of pufflegs due to a small, shiny blue ‘‘gorget’’ (coloration below the throat area).  Most pufflegs, including the blackbreasted puffleg, are considered to be generalist feeders (pollinators). The species has been observed feeding from at least 29 different plant species.  Photo from Fundación Jocotoco, an Ecuadorian organisation established to protect land of critical importance to the conservation of Ecuador's endangered birds and associated biodiversity.

EXCERPT: The primary threat to this species, widespread deforestation, has led to habitat loss. Conversion of primary forests to human settlement and agricultural uses has led to the fragmentation of habitat throughout the range of the black-breasted puffleg and isolation of the remaining populations. Its habitat, which is already disturbed and fragmented, continues to be altered by anthropogenic factors such as habitat alteration, introduction of invasive species, and habitat destruction and fragmentation as a result of local sustenance use,  particularly agriculture. Although the puffleg is listed as a critically endangered species under Ecuadorian law and part of its range occurs within a protected area, implementation of existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to protect the species (Factor D), as they have been ineffective in curbing the primary threat to the black-breasted puffleg, which is habitat loss or alteration (Factor A). The total population size of the blackbreasted puffleg is estimated to range from 200 to 270 adult individuals, with a declining trend. The black-breasted puffleg’s restricted range, combined with its small population size, makes the species particularly vulnerable to the threat of adverse natural (e.g., genetic, demographic, or environmental) and manmade (e.g., deforestation, habitat alteration, fire) events that destroy individuals and their habitat. The population of this species has declined between 50 and 79 percent in the past 11 years. More than 20 percent of this loss occurred within the past 6 years, including the possible local extirpation of the species from Volcan Atacazo. These rates of decline are expected to continue.