FWS says listing of St. Croix agave warranted but precluded by other higher priority species needs
75 Fed. Reg. 57721 (Wednesday, September 22, 2010) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket number FWS-R4-ES-2010-0051 / MO 92210-0-0008-B2
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition to List Agave eggersiana (no common name) as Endangered
SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12–month finding on a petition to list the plant Agave eggersiana (see species profile) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). After review of all available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing A. eggersiana is warranted. Currently, however, listing A. eggersiana is precluded by higher priority actions to amend the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Upon publication of this 12-month petition finding, we will add A. eggersiana to our candidate species list. We will develop a proposed rule to list A. eggersiana as our priorities allow. We will make any determination on critical habitat during development of the proposed listing rule. In any interim period the status of the candidate taxon will be addressed through our annual Candidate Notice of Review (CNOR). DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on September 22, 2010.
Agave eggersiana is a flowering plant of the family Agavaceae (century plant family) endemic to the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. A.eggersiana is distinguished from other members of the Agavaceae family by its fleshy, nearly straight leaves with small marginal prickles. Its flowers are deep yellow, 5 to 6 centimeters (cm) (1.95 to 2.34 in) long. Avave eggersiana is not known to produce fruit, and requires at least 10 to 15 years to develop as a mature individual. Avave eggersiana like other Agave species are monocarpic, meaning the plant dies after producing the spike or inflorescence. Photo from St. George Village Botanical Garden.
HISTORY: On November 21, 1996, FWS received a petition from the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) requesting listing Agave eggersiana as endangered. In 2010, the Division of Fish and Wildlife of the DPNR conducted a local status review to determine the extent of the populations of Agave eggersiana in St. Croix. They reported five sites where the species was found
EXCERPT RE: FIVE FACTOR ANALYSIS: This status review identified threats to the species attributable to Factors A, B, D, and E. Of the currently known populations, only three populations are located in areas managed for conservation and public outreach (Ruth Island, Salt River Bay, and Buck Island National Monument). The remaining populations, containing about 97 percent of the currently known adult individuals, are located in areas either threatened by development pressure, or are currently affected by landscape practices and competition with exotic species, resulting in detrimental effects to reproduction and recruitment (see Factors A and E). Furthermore, the use of the Agave eggersiana as an ornamental species is common on the island, and evidence suggests that wild specimens are being collected due to the commercial interest in this species (Factor B). Although the species is currently listed under local regulations, lack of enforcement of local law does not provide adequate protection to ameliorate threats to the species. (Factor D).
EXCERPT RE: PRIORITY: Although the species faces threats, as described above, we believe these threats to be of moderate to low magnitude; at least 450 adults and 260 bulbils are known to occur in 10 populations with half showing evidence of recruitment in the wild and 3 located in areas managed for conservation and public outreach. Under the 1983 Guidelines, a ‘‘species’’ facing imminent moderate to low magnitude threats is assigned an LPN of 7, 8, or 9 depending on its taxonomic status. Because A. eggersiana is a species, but not a monotypic genus, we assigned it an LPN of 8. While we conclude that listing the species is warranted, an immediate proposal to list this species is precluded by other higher priority listing actions.