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Running Buffalo Clover (Trifolium stoloniferum)

5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation

The Running Buffalo Clover 5-Year Review is an 18 page document. Below are the following sections: Methodology, Synthesis, Results, and Recommendations for Future Actions. Click here to view or download a PDF file of the complete 5-Year Review.


1.2 Methodology used to complete the review:
This 5-year review was prepared by Sarena Selbo, Endangered Species Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), Reynoldsburg Ohio Ecological Services Field Office, in consultation with other field office staff in the Southeast, Northeast, and Midwest regions. The Service requested new scientific or commercial data and information that may have a bearing on the species' classification of endangered status through a Federal Register notice (70 FR 41423) initiating the 5-year review. We reviewed past and recent literature, public comments, the final listing rule (52 FR 21478), and the recently revised running buffalo clover recovery plan which we relied heavily on (USFWS 2007), to prepare this 5-year review.


2.4 Synthesis

Since listing running buffalo clover in 1987, several positive outcomes have been realized due to recovery implementation: 1) more information is available regarding the species biology; and 2) the known number of populations has dramatically increased as
survey efforts have expanded throughout the historic range. Running buffalo clover currently occurs in 108 populations in the Appalachian, Bluegrass and the Ozarks regions. At the end of the 2007 field season, the 108 populations were ranked as follows: 11 A-ranked, 27 B-ranked, 29 C-ranked, 40 D-ranked, and one unranked. Although many of the threats to running buffalo clover populations still exist, two initially identified potential threats, lack of a rhizobium associate and viral pathogens do not appear to be a threat to the species.


Given the known threats and constraints, improving the status of the species focuses primarily on increasing the number of protected and managed populations, determining the viability of existing populations, and research into the species ecological requirements. Key to this strategy is the protection and ecological management of various-sized populations of running buffalo clover throughout its geographic range. The recovery criteria and recovery actions rely heavily on retaining and managing the habitats on which running buffalo clover needs to maintain viability (USFWS 2007). In addition, recovery relies on a greater understanding of the biotic and abiotic needs of running buffalo clover in order to apply adequate management.


To that end, the recovery criteria for reclassifying running buffalo clover from an endangered species to a threatened species have been achieved. A change in the species classification to threatened status is recommended. Running buffalo clover is no longer in danger of extinction throughout all of a significant portion of its range, due to its distribution (all 3 regions), numbers (108 populations), and reduction in threats (increases in the number of protected and managed populations).



3.1 Recommended Classification: Downlist to Threatened.

3.2 New Recovery Priority Number: Retain as 8. No change is needed, the recovery priority number was recently changed from a 2 to an 8 which indicates the species has a moderate degree of threat and a high recovery potential.


3.3 Reclassification Priority Number: Reclassification priority number is 4. We have not been petitioned to reclassify running buffalo clover. The management impact/burden of this species being listed as endangered is considered moderate.



- Conduct censuses on an annual basis where data gaps on population viability occur. (Recovery Action 1.4)

A population cannot be considered viable for purposes of reclassification if fewer than 5 years of census data exist. Ohio and West Virginia have many sites with more than ten years of census data. States with newly discovered populations or states with less census effort should work towards conducting annual censuses until 5-10 years of data have been collected. Sites with ample data to indicate viability may be censused less frequently.


- Develop site specific protection and management agreements. (Recovery Action 1.3)

For a population to be considered protected for purposes of reclassification, it needs to occur on land owned by a government agency or private conservation organization that identifies maintenance of the species as one of the primary conservation objectives for the site, OR the population is protected by a conservation agreement that commits the private landowner to habitat management for the species. Agreements can be in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between
the landowner and the local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Field Office (see Appendix 1 for an example).


- Determine and implement appropriate habitat management techniques. (Recovery Actions 1.1 and 1.2)

Although some management techniques such as mowing, grazing, and invasive plant control have been shown to be effective for maintaining populations of running buffalo clover, little experimental data exists. The number of known running buffalo clover populations is large enough to withstand some experimentation in developing effective techniques for managing the species. A small number of experimental sites should be established which utilize different management regimes. Such regimes may include various forms of planned disturbance, such as livestock grazing, mowing, canopy reduction, and various techniques to control invasive plant species
(hand pulling, weed-wacking, raking, etc.). A small number of experimental management sites should be established with the goal of developing practical longterm practices that conserve or enhance running buffalo clover populations. Regular monitoring and adaptive management should be practiced at all experimental management sites, where adaptive management is described as a continuous process implementing new knowledge and corrective actions, as necessary.


- Update the Population Viability Analysis (PVA)

Additional census data should be added to the PVA. Populations that were not included in the analysis previously (USFWS 2007) could be included now if data gaps have been removed. Updating the PVA analysis can be a tool to assess the viability of populations for delisting purposes.



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Last updated: April 14, 2015