Listing of striped newt “warranted but precluded”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced that listing the striped newt (Notophthalmus perstriatus) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act is warranted but precluded by higher priority actions such as court-ordered and court-approved settlement agreements, listing actions with absolute statutory deadlines, and work on proposed listing determinations for candidate species with a higher listing priority. As a result, the Service is adding the striped newt to its candidate species list and will develop a proposed rule to list the striped newt as agency priorities allow (Federal Register, June 7, pp. 32911-32929).

The striped newt is a small salamander about 2-4 inches long that occurs only in Florida and Georgia. Historically, the species occurred in savanna, scrub, and sandhills dominated by longleaf pine 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. Breeding sites are typically sinkhole ponds in sandhills habitats and cypress and bay ponds in the wetter pine flatwoods communities.

The Service perceives the primary threats to the striped newt to be habitat loss, disease, inadequate regulatory mechanisms, and drought. The notice reports that striped newt habitat has been destroyed or modified in the past due to conversion to pine plantations or naturally regenerated stands, loss from urban development, and degradation due to fire suppression, off-road vehicles, and road construction. The notice also alleges that silvicultural practices, including mechanical site preparation, pond ditching, soil disturbance, and the use of fertilizer and herbicides, can interfere with migration and successful reproduction.

Because of these and other possible threats to the striped newt, the Service believes that listing is warranted and has assigned the species a Listing Priority Number of 8 (on a scale of 1-12 with lower priority numbers indicating greater threat). The Service will make a determination on the status of the striped newt as endangered or threatened when they complete a proposed listing determination. 

Contact information