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Monday, February 22, 2010

Book of the Week: A Look at the Endangered Species List

The awareness of the need to protect endangered species has grown widely in the past few decades. The decimation of species throughout the world due to both natural and man-made conditions has pushed many species to the brink of extinction. While there are many efforts underway to protect and revive the species on the endangered list today, the struggle of many species to survive is still uncertain. This week's book of the week, Selected vertebrate endangered species of the seacoast of the United States (1980), published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, outlines some of the species that were facing this battle for survival thirty years ago.

For this week's post, we highlight three of the species listed as endangered in this publication, and provide an update about the species' current status. A link to the Encyclopedia of Life entry
for each species is also included, so feel free to dig a little deeper into each of these unique, threatened, and resilient creatures.

The Red Wolf (Canis rufus)

The Red Wolf was listed as Federally endangered on October 3, 1970 in the states of Delaware, Missouri, Mississippi and Texas. It was threatened due to predator control programs and federal, state, and local bounty hunter activity in these regions, as this species was seen to be a threat to livestock in these areas.

Current Status: In an effort to protect this species,
"fourteen remaining red wolves were placed in a captive-breeding facility; they have become the founders of the present red wolf population. Currently, 200+ red wolves exist, and reintroductions are occurring in a few areas, including North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains."

The Red Wolf in EOL.
The Red Wolf in this week's Book of the Week.

The Whooping Crane (Grus americana)

The Whooping Crane was listed as Federally endangered on March 11, 1967 in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Texas. The species' survival was put to the test due to a reduction in breeding and wintering habitats as a result of drainage, agriculture, the Gulf of Intracoastal Waterway, and human settlements. As this week's book of the week points out, "Whooping cranes avoid areas of human disturbance even if the habitat is otherwise suitable." In 1977, there were only 75 whooping cranes in the wild and 27 in captivity.

Current Status: With the rescue efforts that began in 1968, the number of whooping cranes gradually increased to 96 in 1995. There are now two populations in the wild.

The Whooping Crane in EOL.
The Whooping Crane in this week's Book of the Week.

The Red-Cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis)

The Red-Cockaded Woodpecker was listed as Federally endangered on October 13, 1970 in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. This species, according to
Selected vertebrate endangered species of the seacoast of the United States, was endangered as a result of a decrease in the quantity and quality of a suitable habitat, primarily due to short-term-rotation timber management. The practice of short-term-rotation timber management "prevents the development of mature, diseased pine trees" which are necessary for this species' roosting and nesting.

Current Status: While there have been two recovery plans written to restore this population, the first, established in 1979, was never acted upon, and the second, established in 1985, has been criticised, though not revised, and no other plan has been written. "Recently, however, new approaches to conservation including old cavity restoration, artificial cavity construction, and the introduction of females into isolated groups, have made some positive advancments towards the increase in populations. The total population is now estimated at about 7,500 individuals."

The Red-Cockaded Woodpecker in EOL.
The Red-Cockaded Woodpecker in this week's Book of the Week.

This week's book of the week,
Selected vertebrate endangered species of the seacoast of the United States (1980), published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was contributed by the MBLWHOI library.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Red-Cockaded Woodpecker is the star of the Blackwater River State Forest in Milton, FL and is easily spotted during visit to the forest.
Even though we have a long way to go, it is good to see progress can be made.