[Federal Register: March 17, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 51)]

[Rules and Regulations]               

[Page 13116-13120]

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]





Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AE48


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Determination of 

Endangered Status for Catesbaea Melanocarpa

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, determine Catesbaea 

melanocarpa (no common name) to be an endangered species under the 

Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Catesbaea melanocarpa 

is known from Puerto Rico, St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, 

Barbuda, Antigua, and Guadeloupe. In Puerto Rico, it is currently known 

from only one location in Cabo Rojo; in the U.S. Virgin Islands, it is 

known from one location near Christiansted, St. Croix. Both populations 

are located on privately-owned land subject to intense pressure for 

development for residential, tourist, and industrial purposes. This 

final rule implements the Federal protection and recovery provisions 

afforded by the Act for C. melanocarpa.

EFFECTIVE DATE: April 16, 1999.

ADDRESSES: The complete file for this rule is available for inspection, 

by appointment, during normal business

[[Page 13117]]

hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Boqueron Field Office, 

P.O. Box 491, Boqueron, Puerto Rico 00622.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Susan Silander, Botanist, at the 

above address (telephone 787/851-7297; facsimile 787/851-7440).



    The German collector Hienrich Rudolph Wullschlaegel first 

discovered Catesbaea melanocarpa (no common name) in the mid-nineteenth 

century on the British island of Antigua. In about 1881, the Danish 

collector Baron H. F. A. von Eggers found C. melanocarpa in St. Croix, 

U.S. Virgin Islands, and in 1886, the German collector Paul Sintenis 

found it in Guanica, Puerto Rico. Although other herbariums maintain 

duplicate specimens, bombing during World War II destroyed the original 

collections in the herbarium at Berlin-Dahlem, Germany.

    Howard (1989) and Proctor (1991) reported the species from Barbuda 

and Guadeloupe, islands of the Lesser Antilles. Little is known about 

its status on these islands; the Center for Plant Conservation (1992) 

describes C. melanocarpa as rare on Antigua. It was not rediscovered in 

St. Croix until 1988 and, to date, it has not been relocated in the 

Gunica, Puerto Rico, area. The St. Croix population, located near 

Christiansted, consists of about 24 individual plants (Breckon and 

Kolterman 1993). In 1995, a single plant was located in Cabo Rojo, 

Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico Planning Board 1995). One specimen, collected 

in 1974, located in the herbarium in San Juan, apparently originated 

from the Susua Commonwealth Forest. However, this specimen is sterile 

and poorly developed; therefore, its identification cannot be 


    Catesbaea melanocarpa, of the family Rubiaceae, belongs to a genus 

that consists of ten or more species of spiny shrubs. Most are confined 

to the Antilles, but some may extend into the Bahamas and the Florida 

Keys. In Puerto Rico, two species are known--C. melanocarpa and C. 

parviflora. These two species are differentiated by the size and color 

of the fruits; black and larger, 5 to 6 millimeters (mm) (.19 to .23 

inches (in)) in diameter, in the former, and white and smaller, 2 to 4 

mm (.07 to .15 in) in diameter in the latter (Breckon and Kolterman 

1993, Britton and Wilson 1925). Some authors note that C. melanocarpa 

may be a synonym or variant of C. parviflora (Howard 1989, Proctor 

1991) and recommend further review. However, Breckon and Kolterman 

(1993) and the Center for Plant Conservation (1992) recommend its 

protection due to the extremely small number of individuals currently 

known, the intense pressure for development in these areas, and the 

potential for an appreciable loss of the species' genetic diversity.

    Catesbaea melanocarpa is a branching shrub that may reach 

approximately 3 meters (9.8 feet) in height. Spines, 1 to 2 centimeters 

(.39 to .78 in) long, occur on the stems between the leaves. Leaves are 

small, from 5 to 25 mm (.19 to 1.0 in) long and 2 to 15 mm (.07 to .58 

in) wide, often in clusters, and the small stipules (appendages at the 

base of the leaf stalk) are deciduous (shed seasonally). The flowers 

are white, solitary or paired, and almost sessile (attached directly at 

the base) in the axils. The corolla (petals) is funnelform and from 8 

to 10 mm (.31 to .39 in) long. The fruit is globe-shaped, 5 to 6 mm 

(.19 to .23 in) in diameter, and black with a brittle fruit wall. The 

2-celled fruit contains five to seven seeds in each cell (Proctor 


Previous Federal Action

    We had identified Catesbaea melanocarpa as a Category 2 species in 

notices of review published in the Federal Register on February 21, 

1990 (55 FR 6184), and September 30, 1993 (58 FR 51144). Prior to 1996, 

a Category 2 species was one that we were considering for possible 

addition to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants, but 

for which conclusive data on biological vulnerability and threat were 

not available to support a proposed rule. We discontinued designation 

of Category 2 species in the February 28, 1996, Notice of Review (61 FR 

7596). We approved Catesbaea melanocarpa as a candidate species on 

September 6, 1995, and identified as such in the 1996 Notice of Review. 

A candidate species is now defined as a species for which we have on 

file sufficient information to propose it for protection under the Act. 

This small shrub is considered a ``critical'' plant species by the 

Natural Heritage Program of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and 

Environmental Resources. The Center for Plant Conservation (1992) has 

assigned the species a Priority Status of A (a species which could 

possibly go extinct in the wild in the next 5 years). On December 16, 

1997, we published a proposed rule to list Catesbaea melanocarpa (62 FR 


    On May 8, 1998, we published Listing Priority Guidance for Fiscal 

Years 1998 and 1999 (63 FR 25502). The guidance clarifies the order in 

which we will process rulemakings, giving highest priority (Tier 1) to 

processing emergency rules to add species to the Lists of Endangered 

and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (Lists); second priority (Tier 2) to 

processing final determinations on proposals to add species to the 

Lists, processing new proposals to add species to the Lists, processing 

administrative findings on petitions (to add species to the Lists, 

delist species, or reclassify listed species), and processing a limited 

number of proposed or final rules to delist or reclassify species; and 

third priority (Tier 3) to processing proposed or final rules 

designating critical habitat. Processing of this final rule is a Tier 2 


Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    In the December 16, 1997, proposed rule and associated reports of 

information that might contribute to the development of a final rule. 

We contacted appropriate agencies of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico 

and the Territory of the Virgin Islands, Federal agencies, scientific 

organizations and other interested parties and requested their 

comments. We published a newspaper notice inviting public comment in El 

Nuevo Dia on January 27, 1998, and in The Daily News of the Virgin 

Islands on January 31, 1998. We also solicited the expert opinions of 

four appropriate and independent specialists regarding the pertinent 

scientific or commercial data and assumptions relating to taxonomy, 

population models, and biological and ecological information for this 

species. We did not receive any comments from these experts. We 

received two letters of comment, neither of which opposed the listing. 

The Puerto Rican Planning Board did not have comments on the listing, 

but stated that they would use the information in the evaluation of 

projects that might affect the species. The U.S. Department of Housing 

and Urban Development did not have comments concerning the listing. A 

public hearing was neither requested nor held.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    After a thorough review and consideration of all information 

available, we have determined that Catesbaea melanocarpa should be 

classified as an endangered species. We followed procedures found at 

Section 4(a)(1) of the Act and regulations implementing the listing 

provisions of the Act (50 CFR part 424). We may determine a species to 

be endangered or

[[Page 13118]]

threatened due to one or more of the five factors described in section 

4(a)(1). These factors and their application to Catesbaea melanocarpa 

Krug and Urban are as follows:

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 

of Its Habitat or Range

    Catesbaea melanocarpa is known only from Puerto Rico, St. Croix, 

Barbuda, Antigua, and Guadeloupe. Available information indicates that 

it is rare on Antigua (Center for Plant Conservation 1992). In Puerto 

Rico, only a single plant is known to exist. This plant is located on 

privately owned land, in Cabo Rojo, currently proposed for a 

residential/tourist development, consisting of a hotel, condo-hotel, 

residential villas and lots, a golf course, and other associated 

facilities. In St. Croix, only one population consisting of about 24 

plants is known to exist. This population is located on privately-owned 

land near Christiansted and is subject to pressure for development.

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 

Educational Purposes

    We have not received information documenting that the use of the 

species for such purposes is a factor in its decline. Although 

overcollection has not been documented, the extremely small population 

size and limited range make this species vulnerable to overcollection 

(see ``CRITICAL HABITAT'' below).

C. Disease or Predation

    Disease and predation have not been documented as factors in the 

decline of this species.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico's regulations recognize and provide 

protection for certain Commonwealth listed species. However, Catesbaea 

melanocarpa is not yet on the Commonwealth list and therefore receives 

no special protection. Federal listing will provide immediate 

protection under the Act and, by virtue of an existing section 6 

cooperative agreement with the Commonwealth, it will also ensure the 

addition of this species to the Commonwealth list and enhance 

possibilities for funding needed research. The Territory of the U.S. 

Virgin Islands has amended an existing regulation to provide for 

protection of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants. The U.S. 

Virgin Islands consider Catesbaea melanocarpa to be endangered (see 

``Available Conservation Measures'' for discussion of prohibitions). As 

with the Commonwealth, the existence of a section 6 cooperative 

agreement with the Service will increase possibilities for funding 

needed research with this plant.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    One of the most important factors affecting the continued survival 

of this species is its limited distribution. Because so few individuals 

are known to occur in limited areas, the risk of extinction is 

extremely high. Catastrophic natural events, such as hurricanes, may 

dramatically affect forest species composition and structure, felling 

large trees and creating numerous canopy gaps. Breckon and Kolterman 

(1993) documented the loss of individuals in St. Croix following the 

passing of hurricane Hugo in 1989. In addition, the limited gene pool 

may depress reproductive vigor.

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 

information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 

faced by this species in determining to make this rule final. Based on 

this evaluation, the preferred action is to list Catesbaea melanocarpa 

as endangered. Within the United States, the species occurs in only one 

locality in Puerto Rico and one in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Deforestation for residential and tourist development are imminent 

threats to the survival of the species. Because this species is in 

danger of extinction throughout all or significant portion of its 

range, it meets the definition of endangered under the Act. We discuss 

the reasons for not designating critical habitat for this species in 

the ``Critical Habitat'' section below.

Critical Habitat

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as: (i) the 

specific areas within the geographical area occupied by a species, at 

the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which are found 

those physical or biological features (I) essential to the conservation 

of the species and (II) that may require special management 

considerations or protection; and (ii) specific areas outside the 

geographic area occupied by a species at the time it is listed, upon a 

determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the 

species. ``Conservation'' means the use of all methods and procedures 

needed to bring the species to the point at which listing under the Act 

is no longer necessary.

    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing 

regulations (50 CFR 424.12) require that, to the maximum extent prudent 

and determinable, we designate critical habitat at the time the species 

is determined to be endangered or threatened. Our regulations (50 CFR 

424.12(a)(1)) state that the designation of critical habitat is not 

prudent when one or both of the following situations exist--(1) the 

species is threatened by taking or other human activity, and 

identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the 

degree of threat to the species, or (2) such designation of critical 

habitat would not be beneficial to the species. We find that 

designation of critical habitat for Catesbaea melanocarpa is not 

prudent because such designation would not be beneficial to the species 

and may increase the threats to the species.

    Critical habitat designation, by definition, directly affects only 

Federal agency actions through consultation under section 7(a)(2) of 

the Act. Section 7(a)(2) requires Federal agencies to ensure that 

activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to 

jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species or destroy or 

adversely modify its critical habitat. Neither of the two known 

populations of Catesbaea melanocarpa occur on Federal land. However, 

Federal involvement with this species may occur through the use of 

Federal funding for rural housing and development on non-Federal lands. 

The use of such funding for projects affecting occupied habitat for 

this species would be subject to review under section 7(a)(2), whether 

or not critical habitat was designated. The precarious status of C. 

melanocarpa is such that any adverse modification or destruction of its 

occupied habitat would also jeopardize its continued existence. This 

would also hold true as the species recovers and its numbers increase. 

In addition, we believe that notification of Federal agencies of the 

areas where these plants occur can be accomplished without the 

designation of critical habitat. All involved parties and landowners 

have been notified of the location and importance of protecting this 

species' habitat. For these reasons, we believe that designation of 

currently occupied habitat of this species as critical habitat would 

not result in any additional benefit to the species and that such 

designation is not prudent.

    Potential introduction sites within unoccupied lands occur on lands 

under Federal management (Cabo Rojo, Laguna Cartagena, and Sandy Point 

National Wildlife Refuges) and Commonwealth management (Guanica 

Commonwealth Forest). As managers of these

[[Page 13119]]

subtropical dry forest lands, the Service and the Puerto Rico 

Department of Natural and Environmental Resources are actively involved 

in conservation activities. Both agencies are committed to the 

protection of these forested areas and would minimize or avoid any 

impacts to such habitat. Any introduction would be closely coordinated 

with the area managers. Introduction of this species onto unoccupied 

private lands likely would not be pursued because suitable habitat 

under private ownership occurs only in very small patches which are 

interspersed among developed areas and are too small for development of 

viable populations. For these reasons, we believe that designation of 

currently unoccupied habitat of this species as critical habitat would 

not result in any additional benefit to the species and, therefore, 

such designation is not prudent.

    To publish precise maps and descriptions of critical habitat in the 

Federal Register, as required in a proposal for critical habitat, would 

make this plant vulnerable to incidents of collection and vandalism 

and, therefore, could contribute to the decline of the species. The 

Center for Plant Conservation (1992) described Catesbaea melanocarpa as 

a ``handsome little shrub'' with good horticulture potential. The 

listing of this species as endangered publicizes its rarity and, thus, 

may make this plant more attractive to researchers, collectors, and 

those wishing to see rare plants. Additionally, designating critical 

habitat would not only provide specific location information to 

potential vandals, but the effects of a critical habitat designation on 

private property are often misunderstood. This misunderstanding can 

create a negative perception of the species' listing and could 

contribute to the threat of vandalism or intentional habitat 

destruction. Because of its few populations, Catesbaea melanocarpa is 

especially susceptible to adverse consequences resulting from the loss 

of individuals or habitat damage due to vandalism. We find that the 

increased degree of threat from vandalism outweighs any benefits that 

might derive from the designation of critical habitat.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 

threatened under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, 

requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 

practices. Recognition through listing encourages and results in 

conservation actions by Federal, Commonwealth, Territory, and private 

agencies, groups and individuals. The Act provides for possible land 

acquisition and cooperation with the Commonwealth and/or Territory, and 

requires that recovery actions be carried out for all listed species. 

We initiate such actions following listing. We discuss the protection 

required of Federal agencies and the prohibitions against certain 

activities involving listed plants, in part, below.

    Section 7(a) of the Act, as amended, requires Federal agencies to 

evaluate their actions with respect to any species that is proposed or 

listed as endangered or threatened and with respect to its critical 

habitat, if any is being designated. Regulations implementing this 

interagency cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR 

part 402. Section 7(a)(2) requires Federal agencies to ensure that 

activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to 

jeopardize the continued existence of the species or to destroy or 

adversely modify its critical habitat. If a Federal action may affect a 

listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency 

must enter into formal consultation with us. We are not designating 

critical habitat for this species, as discussed above. Federal 

involvement may occur through the use of Federal funding for rural 

housing and development (for example, the Rural Development or Housing 

and Urban Development).

    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 

general trade prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all endangered 

plants. All prohibitions of section 9(a)(2) of the Act, implemented by 

50 CFR 17.61, apply. These prohibitions, in part, make it illegal for 

any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to import 

or export any endangered plant, transport it in interstate or foreign 

commerce in the course of commercial activity, sell or offer it for 

sale in interstate or foreign commerce, or remove and reduce to 

possession the species from areas under Federal jurisdiction. In 

addition, for plants listed as endangered, the Act prohibits the 

malicious damage or destruction on areas under Federal jurisdiction and 

the removal, cutting, digging up, or damaging or destroying of 

endangered plants in knowing violation of any Commonwealth or 

Territorial law or regulation, including Commonwealth or Territorial 

criminal trespass law. Certain exceptions can apply to agents of the 

Service and Commonwealth and Territorial conservation agencies.

    The Act and 50 CFR 17.62 and 17.63 also provide for the issuance of 

permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities involving 

endangered species under certain circumstances. Such permits are 

available for scientific purposes and to enhance the propagation and 

survival of the species. We anticipate that few trade permits for this 

species will ever be sought or issued, since the species is neither 

common in cultivation nor common in the wild.

    It is our policy, published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 

(59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable those 

activities that would or would not constitute a violation of section 9 

of the Act at the time of listing. The intent of this policy is to 

increase public awareness of the effect of listing on proposed or 

ongoing activities. The only known populations of Catesbaea melanocarpa 

are located on privately-owned land. Since there is no Federal 

ownership, and the species is not currently in trade, the only 

potential section 9 involvement would relate to removing or damaging 

the plant in knowing violation of Commonwealth or Territorial law, or 

in knowing violation of Commonwealth or Territorial criminal trespass 

law. Section 15.01(b) of the Commonwealth ``Regulation to Govern the 

Management of Threatened and Endangered Species in the Commonwealth of 

Puerto Rico'' states: ``It is illegal to take, cut, mutilate, uproot, 

burn or excavate any endangered plant species or part thereof within 

the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.'' The U.S. Virgin 

Islands' regulation states that ``no person may harass, injure or kill, 

or attempt to do the same, or sell or offer for sale any specimen, or 

parts or produce of such specimen, of an endangered or threatened 

species.'' We are not aware of any otherwise lawful activities being 

conducted or proposed by the public that will be affected by this 

listing and result in a violation of section 9.

    You should direct questions regarding whether specific activities 

will constitute a violation of section 9 to the Field Supervisor of the 

Service's Boqueron Field Office (see ADDRESSES section). You may 

request copies of the regulations on listed species from and address 

inquiries regarding prohibitions and permits to the U.S. Fish and 

Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, 1875 Century Boulevard, Atlanta, 

Georgia 30345-3301 (telephone 404/679-7313).

[[Page 13120]]

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that an Environmental Assessment and 

Environmental Impact Statement, as defined under the authority of the 

National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, need not be prepared in 

connection with regulations adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the 

Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. We published a notice 

outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on 

October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

Required Determinations

    This rule does not contain any new collections of information other 

than those already approved under the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 

U.S.C. 3501 et seq., and assigned Office of Management and Budget 

clearance number 1018-0094. For additional information concerning 

permit and associated requirements for endangered plants, see 50 CFR 

17.62 and 17.63.

References Cited

Breckon, G. and D. Kolterman. 1993. Catesbaea melanocarpa Krug & 

Urban [Rubiaceae]. Final Report under Cooperative Agreement No. 14-

16-0004-92-970 between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the 

University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus.

Britton, N.L. and P. Wilson. 1925. Scientific survey of Porto Rico 

and the Virgin Islands. Volume VI--Part 2. Botany of Porto Rico and 

the Virgin Islands. Descriptive flora--Spermatophyta (continued). 

New York Academy of Sciences, New York. 158 pp.

Center for Plant Conservation. 1992. Report on the Rare Plants of 

Puerto Rico. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri.

Howard, R.A. 1989. Flora of the Lesser Antilles. Leeward and 

Windward Islands. Volume 6. Dicotyledoneae--Part 3. Arnold 

Arboretum, Harvard University, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. 658 pp.

Liogier, H.L. and L.F. Martorell. 1982. Flora of Puerto Rico and 

Adjacent Islands: a systematic synopsis. Editorial de la Universidad 

de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. 342 pp.

Proctor, G. R. 1991. Puerto Rican plant species of special concern. 

Status and recommendations. Publicacion Cientifica Miscelanea No. 2. 

Departamento de Recursos Naturales de Puerto Rico. San Juan, Puerto 

Rico. 197 pp.

Puerto Rico Planning Board. 1995. Draft Environmental Impact 

Statement for Monte Carlo Resort and Boqueron Bay Site. San Juan, 

Puerto Rico. 88 pp.


    The primary author of this final rule is Ms. Susan Silander (see 

ADDRESSES section).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 

recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 

of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:


    1. The authority citation for Part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 

4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500, unless otherwise noted.

    2. Amend Section 17.12(h) by adding the following, in alphabetical 

order under FLOWERING PLANTS, to the List of Endangered and Threatened 


17.12  Endangered and threatened plants.

* * * * *

    (h) * * *



--------------------------------------------------------   Historic  range           Family            Status          When       Critical     Special

         Scientific name                Common name                                                                   listed      habitat       rules


         Flowering Plants

                  *                  *                  *                  *                   *                  *                  *

Catesbaea melanocarpa None.......  U.S.A.(PR, VI),       Rubiaceae..........  E..................  657                      NA           NA

                                    Antigua, Barbuda,


                  *                  *                  *                  *                   *                  *                  *


    Dated: March 1, 1999.

Jamie Rappaport Clark,

Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.

[FR Doc. 99-6444 Filed 3-16-99; 8:45 am]