In This Issue
- The Showy Stickseed and the Buena Vista Lake Shrew are Declared Endangered
- Future Meetings
- Information Highway Hi-Lites
- Current Literature
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has announced that two species have gained federal protection as endangered species. The showy stickseed (Hackelia venusta) is one of Washington's rarest plants, and the Buena Vista Lake shrew (Sorex ornatus relictus), a tiny insect-eating mammal, is native to California's southern San Joaquin Valley. Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a species is considered endangered when it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
Known from only one location, the showy stickseed is a beautiful, five-lobed, white flower found in Chelan County, Washington, on U.S. Forest Service land. Past surveys show the stickseed has been moving steadily towards extinction, having declined from more than 1,200 individuals in the early 1980s to about 500 plants in 2001.
Cooperative recovery efforts have been developed and implemented to restore habitat for the stickseed. These include thinning trees around the sun-loving stickseed population to provide them with more light, and careful control of noxious weeds. Experimental propagation for this species also has been successful.
The stickseed is threatened primarily by collectors who desire the plant because of its rarity and remove plants from the wild. Today's final rule makes collection of the plant or its parts a federal offense. The stickseed grows on fine, loose granite slopes containing little organic matter, and as a result, few nutrients. Several non-native noxious weeds have invaded stickseed habitat and threaten to out-compete the stickseed for the available nutrients. Habitat disturbance also threatens the species, as does competition from native and non-native plant species caused by fire suppression.
The Buena Vista Lake shrew is a mouse-sized animal with a long snout, small eyes, and ears that are concealed or nearly concealed by soft fur. Its coat is predominantly black with brown specks on the back and smoke gray underneath. An adult weighs about the same as a quarter (0.14 ounces), and most are around 5 inches long (including their tails). The shrews benefit surrounding plant communities by consuming large quantities of insects, slugs and other invertebrates, influencing plant succession and controlling pest insects.
"The Buena Vista Lake shrew, a unique little animal that consumes more than its weight in insects every day, is part of the San Joaquin Valley's historic ecosystem," said Steve Thompson, Manager of USFWS's California-Nevada Operations Office. "With scientific surveys unearthing fewer than 30 of these animals at only four locations the former Kern Lake Preserve, Cole Levee Ecological Preserve, the Kern Fan recharge area and our own Kern National Wildlife Refuge complex we believe the species is close to extinction."
Biologists believe that historically the Buena Vista Lake shrew occurred widely in the marshlands of the Tulare Basin. By the time biologists first discovered the shrew in 1932 most of these marshes were drained or dried up by water diversions. Today, the species has lost more than 95 percent of its historic habitat.
The remaining populations of the shrew are threatened primarily by agricultural activities, modifications of local hydrology, uncertain water supply, possible toxic effects from selenium poisoning, and naturally occurring catastrophic events such as drought that could wipe out the remaining animals. Water is a vital component of the shrew's environment because of the moisture required to support the variety of insects that are its primary food source.
The 29th Annual Natural Areas Conference will be held 25 October 2002 at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel in Asheville, North Carolina. The conference will be designed around the general theme "The Power of Nature and the Empowerment of Natural Areas." Symposium topics will include adaptive ecosystem management, aquatic conservation initiatives, and international natural areas conservation. A copy of the conference call for papers and abstract submission form is available in Adobe pdf format on the conference Web site <http://www.naturalarea.org/>. Abstracts must be submitted by 15 May 2002. Asheville is located on the eastern slope of the southern Appalachian Mountains, next door to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Field trips are planned in the mountains and also in North Carolina's Piedmont and Coastal Plain. As well as being in a physically beautiful setting, Asheville has a well-deserved reputation as a center for the arts, crafts and regional music. The Renaissance Asheville Hotel is adjacent to Thomas Wolfe's birthplace and the Asheville Community Theatre. For additional conference information, please contact Doreen DiCarlo, Center for Environmental Studies, 3932 RCA Blvd., Suite 3210, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410; Tel: 561-691-8553; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
MAB Database Online <http://ice.ucdavis.edu/mab> contains the Biosphere Reserve Integrated Monitoring (BRIM) database of vertebrates and vascular plants from protected natural areas worldwide. Maintained by the U.S. Man and the Biosphere Program (USMAB) in cooperation with the University of California, Davis and the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program, the database contains records relating to over 24,000 unique vascular plant and 10,000 unique vertebrate species from more than 660 protected areas in 97 countries. The database is complied with the use of two software programs, MABFauna and MABFlora, to standardize biological inventory data and to allow the sharing of important scientific information among nature reserves. The software is designed to allow users to input, edit, retrieve and create checklists and reports of vertebrate and vascular plant inventory data. MABFauna and MABFlora come with a companion program, Observe, which allows the user to input, manage, and retrieve information on individual observations of vertebrates or vascular plants. Observe is designed for biologists who are monitoring populations through time and is highly user-configurable. For free copies of the software, and any other information on the BRIM program, contact: U.S. MAB, OES/ETC/MAB, SA 4C, Department of State, Washington, DC 20522-4401, USA; Tel: 202-776-8318; Fax: 202-776-8367; E-mail: email@example.com.
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