Based on a review of the best available scientific and commercial information, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that two southeastern species – the Yazoo crayfish and Tennessee cave salamander - are not at risk of extinction and do not warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
For each species, the Service brought together a team of biologists that compiled and examined all known data and research. The peer-reviewed findings for each are outlined in species status assessments (SSA). SSAs use the conservation biology principles of resiliency, redundancy and representation. The SSA reports for each of these species and detailed descriptions of the basis for each of these findings will be published in the Federal Register on September 20, 2023, and are available online today at: https://federalregister.gov/public-inspection.
The Yazoo crayfish is a small, lesser-known crayfish that lives in the Big Black and Yazoo River watersheds of western Mississippi. Recent survey work has expanded the known distribution of the Yazoo crayfish in the Yalobusha, Yazoo, and Big Black River drainages.
The greatest current threat to the species is habitat degradation and fragmentation due to legacy effects of past land use practices. The Service’s review found that habitat conditions for the crayfish have been improving over the past 10 to 20 years in part due to improved land use and management practices. Streams in the crayfish’s range have shown signs of self-repair. Although threats are present on the landscape, the Service’s analysis of current condition indicates that the Yazoo crayfish has multiple high and moderate resilient populations distributed across the landscape. Therefore, listing under the ESA is not warranted.
The Tennessee cave salamander is a large, obligate subterranean aquatic salamander that currently occurs in 89 caves and one spring in central and southern middle Tennessee, northern Alabama, and northwestern Georgia. Distribution of the Tennessee cave salamander has not changed significantly since its discovery in the mid-1940s. Salamanders have even been recently documented at two historical sites with increased survey efforts since 2018.
Habitat degradation is the primary threat to Tennessee cave salamander. The most significant stressor is groundwater pollution from residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural sources, depending on land use changes within recharge areas of cave systems. The effects ofmay act synergistically with other threats and exacerbate the effects of urbanization, drought, and water withdrawal, particularly in the future. But conservation measures (e.g., cave gates, visitation control, and habitat management) and regulatory mechanisms are in place across the species range with approximately 30 percent of cave sites occurring on protected lands. Therefore, listing under the ESA is not warranted.
The Service will continue to support partners in their conservation and research efforts on behalf of these animals. We also ask the public to submit to us, at any time, new information that may be relevant to the status of any of these species or their habitats, as it becomes available.
Detailed descriptions and contact information for this finding will be available online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal on September 20, 2023 at http://www.regulations.gov/ under the following docket numbers:
Tennessee cave salamander
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, visit www.fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfwssoutheast, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwssoutheast, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwssoutheast.