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Adiantum Questions and Answers

1.    What is a five-year review?

Under the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service is required to conduct a review of each listed species at least once every 5 years.  The purpose of a 5-year review is to ensure listed species have the appropriate level of protection under the ESA. The reviews assess each threatened and endangered species to determine whether its status has changed since the time of its listing and whether it should be delisted or classified differently.

A 5-year review collects and considersthe best available scientific and commercial data regarding the species, in particular, any information that has become available since the original listing determination.  Such information includes:

  • Species biology including, but not limited to, population trends, distribution, abundance, demographics, and genetics;
  • Habitat conditions including, but not limited to, amount, distribution, and suitability;
  • Conservation measures that have benefited the species;
  • Threat status and trends;
  • Other new information, data, or corrections including but not limited to changes in taxonomy or nomenclature and identification of erroneous information contained in the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.

The review also assesses:

  • whether new information suggests that the species is increasing, declining, or stable;
  • whether existing threats are increasing, unchanged, reduced, or eliminated;
  • if there are any new threats; and
  • if any new information or analysis calls into question any of the conclusions in the original listing determination as to the species classification.

2.    What new information is in the five year review for the fern Adiantum vivesii?

In 1999, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico approved a wildlife protection law that did not exist at the time the fern was federally listed.  Subsequently, the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) approved policy to manage threatened and endangered species.  Adiantum vivesii is currently listed by the Commonwealth as critically endangered.  

New research conducted by Sepulveda Orengo in 2000, indicates Adiantum vivesii is a sterile hybrid, an offspring of two different species involving Adiantum tetraphyllum and another unknown.   This information leads us to believe that Adiantum vivesii does not meet the definition of a species.  A species can be distinguished as a group of individuals that can potentially breed among themselves and do not breed with individuals of other groups. 

3.     Research was published in 2000.  Why did it take us eight years to consider delisting?

The research was finalized in 2000 as part of a master’s thesis and the data was not published in widely distributed journals.  FWS became aware of the thesis as we initiated in 2006 the Five Year Review and requested information from local botanists and professors at the University of Mayagüez. 

4.     What is the recommendation with regards to classification of this fern and its protected status under the ESA?

 The review’s recommendation is to remove the species from the list of endangered and threatened plants because the plant is not a good biological species and is incapable of sexual reproduction.

5.    How does the Service determine whether a species is endangered or threatened?

The Endangered Species Act defines “endangered” as “…in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range…” whereas “threatened” is defined as “…is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range…”

Section 4(a)(1) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) establishes that the Service determines whether a species is endangered or threatened based on one or more of the five following factors:

The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;

  • Over utilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
  • Disease or predation;     
  • The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
  • Other natural or man-made factors affecting its continued existence. 

Section 4(a)(1) of the Act also requires that the Service’s determination be made on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.

6.     In what context was this information reviewed and analyzed?

The best scientific and commercially available data and information was reviewed within the context of the ESA’s five listing factors and the most recent recovery plans for the species. Service biologists and conservation managers looked at each ESA listing factor and recovery plan action or task item and assessed whether or not the current data and information supported or detracted from that item.

7.     When would the Service be able to remove Adiantum vivesii from the Endangered Species List?

The five-year review is an internal analysis which makes a recommendation on the classification of the species.  It is not a decision document and does not change the current federal status as endangered.  Delisting a species requires a more formal administrative process

A decision to delist a species must be supported by the best scientific and commercial data available and only considered if such data substantiates the species is neither endangered nor threatened for one or more of the following reasons: (1) the species is considered extinct; (2) the species is considered to be recovered; and/or (3) the original data available when the species was listed, or the interpretation of such data, were in error.  Any change in federal classification, including removal from the federal endangered and threatened species list, would require a separate rulemaking process, including ample opportunity for public review and comment.

8.     Will the public be given an opportunity to participate in any status change?

Yes.  A change in status requires a separate formal rulemaking process, including ample opportunity for public review and comment.  No change in classification would occur until the completion of that process; so the fern Adiantum vivesii would remain listed as endangered until the Service is able to complete the formal rulemaking process.

Last updated: October 2, 2008