Status review for the striped newt

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has released its 90-day finding on a petition to list the striped newt (Notophthalmus perstriatus) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Service has determined that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the species may be warranted. Therefore, the Service is initiating a review of the status of the striped newt (Federal Register Vol. 75, No. 55, pp. 13720-13726; March 23, 2010)

The striped newt is a small salamander about 2-4 inches long. It occurs only in Florida and Georgia. Its range extends along the Atlantic Coastal Plain of southeastern Georgia into peninsular north-central Florida and up through the Florida panhandle into portions of southwest Georgia. Historically, striped newts occurred in savanna, scrub, and sandhills dominated by longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) and an understory of grasses and forbs maintained by frequent fire. Adults live underground in these uplands but during fall through spring move into shallow temporary ponds to breed. These breeding sites are typically sinkhole ponds in sandhills habitats and cypress and bay ponds in the wetter pine flatwoods communities.

The petition to list was received by the Service in July 2008 from Dr. D. Bruce Means, Ryan C. Means, and Rebecca P. M. Means of the Coastal Plains Institute and Land Conservancy. It asserts that factors potentially contributing to the decline of the striped newt include conversion of natural pine forest to plantation forest, urban uses, and agriculture; degradation and destruction of temporary pond breeding sites; forest succession in the absence of fire; disease caused by organisms such as the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis); and long-term regional drought.

The Service has issued a request for scientific and commercial data and other information regarding the striped newt. Findings of the status review and a determination of whether the petitioned action is warranted will be published in a 12-month finding.

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