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North Florida Field Office

Florida scrub-jay
(Aphelocoma coerulescens)
2007 Five-year Review
Frequently Asked Questions


Updated: Otocber 2, 2007

Q1:What is a five-year review?

A1: A five-year review is an Endangered Species Act (ESA) mandated process which is conducted to ensure the listing classification of a species as either threatened or endangered is still accurate. The five-year review is not a rulemaking in and of itself. It provides analysis and an agency "recommendation," rather than a "determination" and as such is not a decision document.

Q2: Who conducted the reviews?

A2: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted the review.

Q3: What species was considered for this review?

A3:Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens)

Q4: What are the results of this review?

A4: After extensive data review and analysis, the Service recommended the current listing classification for the Florida scrub-jay remain unchanged. Currently the species is classified as threatened on the ESA list of threatened and endangered species.

Q5: Was the Service's five-year review peer reviewed?

A5: Yes. This no change in status recommendation underwent peer review prior to finalizing the document. Reviewers have the opportunity to look over the document's staff analysis and comments, but are not aware of the Service's final conclusion or recommendation. Peer review comments and the Service's responses are included in Appendix A of the five-year review.

Q6: Your review states that scrub-jay populations have declined since the last statewide survey in 1992-1993. As such, would it not be more appropriate for you to be recommending downgrading the status to endangered?

A6: No. Although scrub-jay populations have declined, they are still well represented in the scrub and scrubby flatwoods habitat found within their historic range, and are relatively secure in the three large metapopulations on public lands. The reviewed information also indicated the species is likely to respond positively to ongoing management actions elsewhere, and has benefited from previous public land acquisitions.

Given this information, Service biologists believe that the scrub-jay is not endanger of extinction (throughout all or a significant portion of its range). However, threats still exist and therefore the species best fits its current ESA classification as threatened.

Q7: What will happen as a result of this five-year review?

A7: While the Service's recommendation is for the scrub-jay's ESA status to remain threatened, additional recommendations in Section IV of the review, entitled Recommendations for Future Actions, identify what is needed to deal with knowledge gaps and further address threats to the species. See Q15 for brief overview of these recommendations.

Q8: What opportunities did the public have to participate in this review?

A8: Public notice of this review was given in the Federal Register (71 FR 7993) on February 15, 2006 announcing a 60-day comment period that closed on April 5, 2006.

Q9: What information was considered in the review?

A9: For this review, the Service reviewed new information and data in the following categories:

  • 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 been implemented that benefit the species;
  • threat status and trends; and
  • other new information, data, or corrections, including but not limited to, taxonomic or nomenclatural changes, identification of erroneous information contained in the Listing, and improved analytical methods.

Q10: How does the Service determine whether a species is endangered or threatened?

A10: The ESA 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 ESA establishes that we determine whether a species is endangered or threatened based on one or more of the five following factors:

  1. The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
  2. Over utilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
  3. Disease or predation;
  4. The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
  5. Other natural or man-made factors affecting its continued existence.

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

Q11: In what context was this information reviewed and analyzed?

A11: 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 plan. Service biologists and managers looked at the status and trend of the Florida scrub-jay population, the ESA listing factors that categorize threats, and recovery plan actions or tasks. In all, over 105 individual sources of literature and data were reviewed during this process.

Q12: Will the public be given an opportunity to provide comments on the five-year review?

A12: No, the five-year review is an internal agency analysis which makes a classification recommendation. As such, it is not a decision document nor is it a proposal for change. Therefore, the Service is not soliciting formal public comments on its review or recommendation. See Q8 for details on public comment opportunities during the review process.

Q13:Will the public be given an opportunity to participate in any proposed status change?

A13: Yes. While no change has been recommended at this time, any future proposed change in status would require 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.

Q14: When would the Service be able to remove the Florida scrub-jay from the federal list of threatened and endangered species?

A14: The five-year review identifies threats of continuing habitat loss, fragmentation and modification and concerns over habitat management on public lands as the primary reasons the species should remain listed as threatened. The Service's specific recommendations include several actions that are needed in order to address these threats and concerns. The Service will not propose removal of the Florida scrub-jay from the ESA list of threatened and endangered species until it is confident that the future of the species is secure.

Q15:On what recovery aspects are your future recommendations focused?

A15:The Service's recommendations for future actions encompassed five key aspects of Florida scrub-jay conservation and recovery:

  • Habitat – Continue to encourage federal, state and local efforts to protect and manage Florida scrub-jay habitat; evaluate existing management actions for effectiveness; and expand use of Safe Harbor Agreements and other private landowner programs to conserve and management viable scrub habitat.
  • Monitoring – Reevaluate monitor methods and conduct research to help conservation managers to distinguish among conservation alternatives.
  • Population Model – Revise metapopulation analysis model by establishing and refining population parameters, habitat data and other factors to improve the model.
  • Integration – Better integrate science and habitat management practices.
  • Recovery plan – Update and revise the recovery plan for the Florida scrub-jay to reflect the best available science and most up-to-date information, as well as develop recovery criteria to address the relevant listing factors and current known threats.

Q16:How can I stay current or find out more information on the Florida scrub-jay and your conservation efforts?

A16: The most current Florida scrub-jay information is available online at http://www.fws.gov/northflorida.


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Last modified October 2, 2007

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