Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Small Shrimp-like Crustacean Will Not be Added to Endangered Species List
Conservation is underway at new sites with more Kenk’s amphipods

September 28, 2017


Meagan Racey, 413-253-8558,

amphipod on leaves

Amphipods are helpful indicators for water quality and are food for other animals like salamanders. Credit: USFWS
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Thanks to collaborative state and federal efforts, the outlook is better for the tiny shrimp-like creature proposed last year to be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced the move to withdraw its proposed listing of the Kenk’s amphipod due in part to new survey data showing there are three sites containing additional populations in Virginia. New information on potential threats throughout the species’ range and recent conservation efforts, also led to the agency’s decision.

“Once we learned the range of the Kenk’s amphipod could be broader, we worked with partners to conduct additional species surveys,” said Paul Phifer, the Service’s assistant Northeast regional director. “The survey findings, along with the protections in place by the U.S. Army and The Nature Conservancy, led us to conclude the Kenk’s amphipod has a more secure future and is not threatened or endangered.”

The amphipod is the latest in a suite of more than 100 species in the eastern United States that have been determined to not need ESA protection as a result of collaboration with state agencies, researchers and other partners to assess conservation actions. “This decision is yet another example of how working with our state and federal partners helps us make a more informed decision,” Phifer said.

The range of the Kenk’s amphipod was thought to be restricted to a handful of sites in Washington, D.C., and Maryland until it was discovered 60 miles south in 2016 at four sites at the U.S. Army’s Fort A.P. Hill in Bowling Green, Va. With state and federal experts unable to find Kenk’s amphipods at some of the original northern sites, they continued combing suitable habitat, looking on public lands in five counties in Maryland (Anne Arundel, Prince Georges, Calvert, Charles and St. Marys) and three counties in Virginia (Caroline, King George and Westmoreland). The survey effort significantly expanded the species’ range and added substantial information about the amphipod, including one site in The Nature Conservancy’s Voorhees Nature Preserve and two sites at Fort A.P. Hill.

At Fort A.P. Hill, the Army extended existing protections to include buffers that protect water quality around basins supplying the springs where the amphipods, as well as salamanders, insects and other crustaceans, live. The Voorhees preserve is also protected from development and surrounded primarily by forest and other public lands.

“Military lands have long been recognized as islands of biodiversity due to their expansive natural habitats and unique land management requirements. U.S. Army Garrison Fort A.P. Hill is no exception and is a proud steward of its natural resources,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Q. Jordan, Commander, Fort A.P. Hill. “The integration of natural resources management with military land use is critical to sustain the mission and ensure environmental protection. Fort A.P. Hill's natural resources and water quality programs contribute toward the conservation of the Chesapeake Bay and it's biodiversity including Kenk's amphipod in a manner consistent with military mission requirements.”

Kenk’s amphipods are found in leaves and fine soil where underground springs surface. They are eyeless, colorless and the height of two stacked pennies. Unflattering characteristics aside, their presence packs a punch: Amphipods are vulnerable to water quality and are important parts of a healthy ecosystem. Concern about the Kenk’s amphipod’s exposure to poor water quality and degraded natural spring habitat in some areas, as well as the challenges that can face small isolated populations, led the Service in 2010 to designate the species as a candidate for Endangered Species Act protection.

Found almost entirely on protected lands, the Kenk’s amphipod was first discovered in 1967 by Roman Kenk at the National Park Service’s Rock Creek Park. One of the nation’s oldest parks, Rock Creek shelters some of the metropolitan area’s last remaining, unpaved and unfilled natural springs. 

You can learn more about this species and decision here:

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