Improved science and conservation partnerships mean a Southeastern fish and flowering plant do not need Endangered Species Act protections
Based on an extensive review of the best available science, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the Ozark chub and the purpledisk honeycombhead do not face the threat of extinction now or in the foreseeable future. Protection of these species on conservation lands and new survey data helped inform the Service’s decisions not to list these species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
These not warranted findings are due in part to ESA-inspired partnerships between local, state and federal stakeholders, who collaborated to protect and conserve these species before they required federal protections. The Service will continue to support the conservation efforts of these diverse partners throughout the species’ ranges. We also ask the public to submit to us, at any time, new information that may be relevant to the status and habitats of these species.
For each species, the Service brought together a team of biologists who compiled and examined all known data and research. Their peer-reviewed findings are outlined in species status assessment (SSA) reports.
Found in Ozark mountain streams of Arkansas and Missouri, the Ozark chub is a small, freshwater, ray-finned fish. Its back is gray, yellow, green, or tan. There are dark blotches along the fish’s midline. The chub is found in the White River basin, including the Black River and its tributaries, and the Little Red River. It is also found in the St. Francis River basin. The primary threat to the chub’s habitat is siltation of rivers from activities such as agriculture, forestry, mining, unpaved roads, road or pipeline construction, water pollution, and logging. Although all of these factors have impacted the Ozark chub, the best scientific data available indicates that the Ozark Chub still exists in 91 percent of its historically occupied watersheds, despite many of these populations being partially or entirely isolated by dams and impoundments for more than 50 years.
The purpledisk honeycombhead is a perennial wetland plant distinguished by its dark purple disk flowers resting on honeycomb-shaped receptacles. Its yellow ray flowers extend over an inch and have three to five teeth at their tips. The plant flowers from mid-August to mid-October and fruits from October to November. It is currently found in pine savanna and flatwood ecosystems of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, with one historical record in Alabama. Primary threats to its existence are habitat loss or degradation and fire suppression.
Thanks to the habitat management efforts of partners, such as Fort Stewart in Georgia and Ralph E. Simmons Memorial State Forest and Cary State Forest in Florida, suitable habitat exists to protect the plant. Currently, 38 purpledisk honeycombhead populations are persisting. Five populations have high resiliency and four have moderate resiliency, all in Georgia and Florida on public and private lands being managed with prescribed fire or mowing.
Detailed descriptions of each of these findings and contact information for the species is available at regulations.gov under the following docket numbers: Ozark chub: FWS–R4–ES–2019–0094, Purpledisk honeycombhead: FWS–R4–ES–2019–0095.
Elsie Davis, public affairs specialist
Elsie_Davis@fws.gov, (404) 679-7107
- Arkansas Ecological Services Field Office
- Endangered Species Act
- North Carolina
- Ozark Chub
- Purpledisk Honeycombhead
- South Carolina
- South Carolina Ecological Services Field Office
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 can make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.