Service Finds Listing Not Warranted for Five Southeastern Species

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Service Finds Listing Not Warranted for Five Southeastern Species
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Based on a review of the best available scientific and commercial information, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that five southeastern species – the Florida pinesnake, northern cavefish, smallscale darter, Edison’s ascyrum and Florida loosestrife – are not in danger 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 examined and compiled the best available data and research into species status assessments. Species status assessments use the conservation biology principles of resiliency, redundancy and representation to assess the viability for each species. The peer-reviewed species status assessment reports for each species and detailed descriptions of the basis for each finding will be published in the Federal Register on November 29, 2023, and are available online today at:

The Florida pinesnake is a non-venomous constrictor found in pine forests of the coastal plain in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. Habitat loss and modification due to urban development and effects of climate change climate change
Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth's climate system and caused change on a global scale.

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are the primary factors impacting the species. 

After assessing the best available information, the Service found many Florida pinesnake populations have moderate to high resiliency even in the face of these threats. Currently, the Florida pinesnake has 66 populations with moderate to high resiliency spread across 93 percent of the current range. The snake has maintained robust populations over decades, which supports the idea that the subspecies’ populations can withstand random events. The importance of protected lands and managing habitats through burning will continue to play an important role in protecting this snake, into the future. Even with future scenarios projecting some population declines, the Florida pinesnake is projected to maintain broad occurrence across its range with five to seven representation units having populations with moderate to high resiliency. The Service therefore concludes that listing the pinesnake is not warranted at this time. 

Native to central Kentucky, the northern cavefish is a small, cave-dwelling fish found only in subterranean drainages in Meade, Breckinridge, Hardin, Hart, and Edmonson Counties, Kentucky, south of the Ohio River. Historically, there were at least six metapopulations (single population with subpopulations at different sites and some connectivity between sites) of northern cavefish. Two of those populations have not been surveyed since the 1990s and cannot be confirmed to still be in existence. However, based on occurrence records since 2000, the other four northern cavefish metapopulations are known to remain in existence in two representation units. The number of individuals in some of the subpopulations are low but some sites have documented hundreds of northern cavefish. Because there has been little to no change in the range and the available information does not indicate a loss of known populations of the northern cavefish, the current risk of extinction is low for the species. Therefore, listing is not warranted at this time.

The smallscale darter is a small, bottom-dwelling freshwater fish native to the Cumberland River System in Kentucky and Tennessee. Their known historical range has always been limited to four tributary systems of the Cumberland River:  Stones River, Harpeth River, Red River, and Little River. The species is present throughout its historical tributary systems in four populations with moderate to moderate-high resiliency.  

Under projected future conditions, we anticipate the species to be present throughout its current range, with moderate resiliency for nearly all populations. Therefore, the Service’s review of the best available scientific and commercial information indicates that the smallscale darter does not warrant listing at this time.

Edison’s ascyrum is plant native to central peninsular Florida. The plant can be found in seasonal ponds, flatwoods, wet prairies, cutthroat grass seeps, lake margins, and sometimes on roadsides and semi-native pastures. While the threats of habitat loss and degradation from development, altered hydrology, altered fire patterns, and climate change are present on the landscape, most populations occur on well-managed and protected lands evenly distributed throughout its range and it thrives in locations with long-term protections. In the future, the species is projected to be represented by moderate to high resiliency populations throughout its range and the distribution of populations across the range on protected lands may minimize the likelihood of a catastrophic event affecting the species, rangewide. Therefore, using the best available science, the Service has determined that the species does not warrant listing at this time.  

Florida loosestrife is a perennial plant native to the subtropical zone of Florida on the western side of the state. It can be found in roadside ditches and disturbed wetlands as well as swamps, marshes, and wet prairies and dominates the ground cover where it grows, often numbering in the thousands and forming dense mats. Although habitat loss and degradation from development and agriculture and sea level rise threaten the plant, the species persists in natural and altered habitats. Given it has a wide distribution throughout its range, responds to disturbances well, and is expected to have sufficient redundancy with several moderate to high resiliency populations into the future, the Service has determined that the plant does not warrant listing at this time. 

The Service will continue to support partners in their conservation and research efforts on behalf of these animals and plants. 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 these findings will be available online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal on November 29, 2023 at under the following docket numbers:

SpeciesDocket Number
Florida pinesnake


Northern cavefish


Smallscale darter


Edison’s ascyrum


Florida loosestrife



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Endangered and/or Threatened species