Questions and Answers About
Reclassification of the Missouri Bladderpod
from Endangered to Threatened
1) What is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service doing?
Fish and Wildlife Service is changing the classification of the Missouri
bladderpod (Lesquerella filiformis) from endangered to threatened
under the Endangered Species Act (Act).
2) What is the Missouri bladderpod?
bladderpod is a small annual plant, about 4 to 8 inches tall, with
many slender stems that grow from a cluster of leaves at the base
of the plant. The stems and leaves of the bladderpod are covered with
small hairs that give the plant a silvery look. Distinctive canary
yellow flowers cluster at the top of the stems and bloom from April
to May. The flowers have four yellow petals and produce round green
seedpods (1/8 inch in diameter) that turn brown as they dry. After
flowering and seeding the plant dies. Seeds germinate in fall and
survive the winter as button-sized rosettes, which look like clusters
of leaves on the ground.
3) Where does the Missouri bladderpod live?
bladderpod grows only in southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas.
Natural habitat for Missouri bladderpods is open limestone glades.
Glades are naturally dry, treeless areas with shallow, loose soil
and areas of exposed rock. The bladderpod is found on highway rights-of-way
and pastures where mowing, grazing, and prescribed fires have kept
the area open. Occasionally it is also found in open, rocky woods
or dolomite glades.
4) What is the current population of Missouri bladderpod?
population estimates may be as high as 500,000 plants at 63 sites
in 6 counties (Christian, Dade, Greene, and Lawrence counties in southwestern
Missouri and Izard and Washington Counties, Arkansas) when climate
and soil conditions are ideal for seed germination and the establishment
5) When was the Missouri bladderpod listed as an endangered species?
final rule listing Lesquerella filiformis as an endangered species
was published in the Federal Register on January 8, 1987. This listing
became effective on February 9, 1987. Progress toward recovery prompted
the Service to reclassify the Missouri bladderpod from endangered
to threatened on October 15, 2003.
6) Why was the Missouri bladderpod originally listed?
the time the Missouri bladderpod was listed as an endangered species,
there were approximately 11,000 plants at 9 known sites, and only
a couple of these sites were protected. Portions of the natural habitat
of the Missouri bladderpod were threatened with residential development
or overgrazing of pastures by livestock. Other populations found on
roadsides were threatened by herbicides or mowing.
natural disturbances such as fire kept Missouri bladderpod habitat
open and free of trees and shrubs. With aggressive control and prevention
of wild fires, woody plants and introduced grasses have invaded glades.
Missouri bladderpod can only grow in open areas, it cannot compete
with those plants. It is overtaken when glades are invaded by red
cedar, cheat grass, and fescue.
7) Why is the Service changing the status of the Missouri bladderpod?
from endangered to threatened indicates the Missouri bladderpod is
responding well to recovery efforts and is benefiting from the protections
and management focus provided by the Endangered Species Act. "Threatened"
is a more accurate indication of the species' current status than
8) What is the difference between an endangered and a threatened
definitions of endangered and threatened are:
Endangered: Any species which is in danger of extinction throughout
all or a significant portion of its range.
Threatened: Any species which is likely to become an endangered species
within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion
of its range.
the Act, the protections that are provided to a threatened plant are
only slightly different from those provided to an endangered plant.
In general, conservation measures provided to an endangered or threatened
plant include recognition, recovery actions, requirement for Federal
protection, and prohibitions against certain practices. Under the
Act, no one may import, export, transport in interstate or foreign
commerce in the course of commercial activity, sell or offer for sale
in interstate or foreign commerce, or remove from areas under Federal
jurisdiction any threatened or endangered plant. For threatened plants,
seeds from cultivated specimens are exempt from these prohibitions
provided their containers are marked "Of Cultivated Origin."
Additional exemptions for threatened plants may apply to agents of
the Service and State conservation agencies working toward the recovery
of the species.
9) What is being done to protect the Missouri bladderpod?
toward recovery of the Missouri bladderpod is attributable to the
coordinated efforts of Federal and State agencies, private organizations,
and local landowners. Protection efforts that are ongoing include:
of the Missouri Bladderpod Recovery Plan in 1988, and implementation
of its recovery recommendations.
o Researching the ecological needs and life history requirements of
o Purchase of sites by conservation organizations and government agencies
to ensure protection.
o Working with private landowners to explain the habitat needs of
the Missouri bladderpod and to help landowners manage their glades.
o Providing public outreach materials (e.g. Best Management Practices)
that have information on the species and its conservation needs.
o Managing known bladderpod sites by prescribed fire, chain sawing,
and the use of herbicides to control woody vegetation and invasive
exotic plants (herbicide use is restricted to June through August),
rerouting hiking trails to reduce foot traffic impacts, and fencing
to keep cattle from bladderpod habitat.
o Surveying potential bladderpod habitat to locate additional populations.
10) What is meant by "recovery," "reclassification"
is the goal of the Act. Under the recovery process, a species is managed
and protected so that its population(s) can increase and expand and/or
the factors threatening it can be significantly reduced. When a species
has been "recovered" it means the species' population is
strong enough that protection under the Act is no longer needed.
is a process of changing the status of a listed species from endangered
to threatened or vice versa. Under this formal rule making process,
a proposal to reclassify is published in the Federal Register, followed
by a public comment period. Information received during the public
comment period is then evaluated and a determination on whether to
reclassify is made and published.
is taking a species off the list of threatened and endangered species
when the population has recovered. Under this formal rule making process,
a proposal to delist is published in the Federal Register, followed
by a public comment period. The information received during the public
comment period is reviewed, a decision is made regarding whether to
delist, and the decision is published in the Federal Register. Species
are also delisted if they become extinct or were originally listed
in error (e.g. information comes to light indicating that the species
is much more common than previously believed).
11) Why is the Service reclassifying and not delisting the bladderpod?
significant progress has been made toward the recovery of the Missouri
bladderpod, there is still work to be done before we can consider
the plant recovered and remove it from the Act's protections. For
example, the bladderpod was only recently discovered in Arkansas,
indicating that more extensive surveying should be conducted. Also,
the long-term success of management techniques, such as prescribed
fire, has yet to be evaluated.
the delisting criteria outlined in the Missouri Bladderpod Recovery
Plan (1988) have not yet been achieved. These criteria state that,
to be considered for delisting, 30 self-sustaining populations must
be protected and managed. Of those, 15 must be in secure ownership,
occupy a minimum of one-half acre of habitat each, and show self-sustaining
populations for at least 7 years. Currently there are 63 self-sustaining
populations, but only 9 are under secure ownership.
12) How many other species have been reclassified from endangered
has reclassified 17 species in the United States from endangered to
threatened, including 6 plants and 11 animals. Several other species
are currently proposed for reclassification.
13) When will the reclassification become effective?
reclassification will become effective on November 14, 2003 (30 days
after publication in the Federal Register).
14) How do I get more information?
Paul McKenzie, Endangered Species Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, 608 E. Cherry St., Room 200, Columbia, Missouri 65201-7712;
by phone at 573/876-1911 ext. 107; or by electronic mail at Paul_McKenzie@fws.gov.
Also, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Region 3 website
at http://midwest.fws.gov/endangered. Individuals who are hearing-impaired
or speech-impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8337
for TTY assistance.
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