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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 12, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesEndangered Status of V.I. Plant Species Under Review

Endangered Status of V.I. Plant Species Under Review

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently reviewing the endangered status of 15 different plant and animal species in the territory and Puerto Rico. However, only one of them, a variety of myrtle (Calyptranthes thomasiana), is found in the Virgin Islands.
St. John plant expert Eleanor Gibney said the myrtle is "increasingly threatened," adding, "Delisting is obviously not the way to go."
According to the Center for Plant Conservation’s website, the plant is found on St. John, Virgin Gorda and Vieques. Less than 250 individual plants are known to exist at all three sites. Gibney said St. Thomas also has a few plants.
"It’s in the middle of a subdivision on the south shore," Gibney said of the approximately 20 plants growing on St. Thomas.
A few plants grow at Virgin Gorda Peak National Park, two are on Vieques, and St. John has "100-plus" plants, Gibney said. Most of those on St. John are found within a half-acre plot at Bordeaux with some others on two privately owned pieces of land.
In addition to decreasing habitat thanks to development, Gibney said the plant is threatened by scale, a disease that also affects other varieties of myrtle.
"It is causing a die back," Gibney said.
Fish and Wildlife reviews the status of all endangered species every five years.
"This is the first step in the process," Fish and Wildlife spokesman Tom MacKenzie said from Atlanta.
Those 15 species include 13 plants and two birds—the Puerto Rican nightjar or guabairo, and white-necked crow. In addition to the myrtle, the plants include bariaco, capá rosa, Cook’s holly, Chamaecrista glandulosa var mirabilis (no common name), chupacallos, Vahl’s boxwood or diablito de tres cuernos, erubia, Myrcia paganii (no common name), nogal, palo de nigua, palo de Ramón, and uvillo.
In addition to reviewing the classification of these species, the Fish and Wildlife study provides an opportunity to track the species’ recovery progress. It may benefit species by providing valuable information to guide future conservation efforts.
The review seeks information on species biology, including population trends, distribution, abundance, demographics, and genetics. Additionally, Fish and Wildlife is looking for information on habitat conditions, conservation measures that have been implemented, threat status and trends, as well as other new information, data, or corrections.
Written comments and information on any of these species should be made before June 8. Email marelisa_rivera@fws.gov, fax to 787-851-7440 or send via regular mail to Marelisa Rivera, Caribbean Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 491, Boquerón, Puerto Rico, 00622.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. Visit the Service’s websites at http://www.fws.gov or http://www.fws.gov/southeast.

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