Ecological Services in the Caribbean
Oficina de Servicios Ecológicos del Caribe -- Southeast Region
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Fish and Wildlife Service Recommends Change in the Endangered Species Act Status for Caribbean Fern


Date: August 19, 2008 
Contact: Lilibeth Serrano 787-851-7297 ext. 239 or (Cell.) 787-505-4397

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today recommended removing the Caribbean fern Adiantum vivesii, classified as endangered in 1993, from the list of threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The Service made the recommendation based on new information in the species’ five-year status review, concluding that the species does not meet the biological definition of a “species” capable of sexual reproduction.

Research conducted by Sepulveda Orengo in 2000 indicates that this Caribbean fern is a sterile hybrid that propagates by rhizomes. This fern is an offspring of two common ferns. Under the Endangered Species Act, a protected “species” must be distinguished as a group of individuals that can potentially breed among themselves and do not breed with individuals of other groups. We previously believed there were 1,000 individuals of this fern and the study clarified that 1,000 rhizomes are all associated to one individual fern.

Discovered by Dr. George Proctor in 1985 in a privately-owned farm in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico, Adiantum vivesii was originally listed under the Endangered Species Act because there was only one known population highly vulnerable to modification or destruction of the site. Also, there was no protection afforded at the local level. In 1995, the Service completed a recovery plan for the fern.

In 1999, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico approved a wildlife protection law, and 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.

The five-year review is an internal analysis of the classification of a species and is not a decision document. The actual reclassification of a species requires a formal rulemaking process. Although the Service is recommending the declassification of Adiantum vivesii through its five-year review process, its recommendation will not change the fern’s endangered status or federal level of protection until a final rule is published in the Federal Register.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, or

Last updated: October 2, 2008