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Why Save Species

Why Save Species?

Endangered, Threatened, or Rare Species
of the
Lake Wales Ridge, central Florida

plants | animals
amphibians | reptiles | birds | mammals


Species. These ancient sand dunes that we call the Lake Wales Ridge were periodically isolated from North America by rising sea levels during recent ice ages. The plants and animals living in the harsh environment of these dunes were also isolated from their continental relatives and some developed differences that persisted when the sea receded and the Ridge was reunited with North America. Many of these dune plants and animals remained restricted to the Ridge. Thus, the Lake Wales Ridge has one of the highest concentrations in North America of endemic (locally- restricted) species (Dobson, A.P., et al. 1997. Geographic distribution of endangered species in the United States. Science 275:550-553.). LWRmap300.gif

Threats. Since 1945, land-use changes on the Ridge have greatly reduced the native upland habitats of oaks and pines and the populations of plants and animals dependent on them. By 1990, about 83% of these Ridge habitats were lost to agriculture or to commercial and residential development (Archbold Biological Station, Menges, E.S., et al., unpublished data).

Habitat-SSr89XX.jpg (546 bytes)
A rosemary bald, with young sand pines, at Archbold Biological Station (Bald 89, Tract 31), Highlands County, Florida. This is important habitat for several endangered herbaceous plants and for sand skinks. Digital photo by Christine V. Hawkes, February 2000.


USFWS. Beginning in 1985, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that some Ridge plants and animals were either endangered or threatened with extinction and qualified for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. As of 2000, these Lake Wales Ridge, Federally-listed species include 19 plants, 3 reptiles, and one bird (see Table 1 below) (see also: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1999. South Florida multi-species recovery plan. USFWS, Southeast Region, Atlanta, Georgia. 2172 pp.).

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) is responsible for Florida's endangered, threatened, and of special concern animals (Rules 39-27.003, 39-27.004, and 39-27.005, respectively, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.S.)), and they maintain a list of species, as well as some educational information on their Web site.

FDA. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDA), Division of Plant Industry (DPI) is responsible for endangered, threatened, and commercially exploited plants (Chapter 5B-40, F.A.C. ). Their list of protected plants is included in the FWCC list mentioned above.

This list (see Table 1 below) of endangered, threatened, or rare species of the Lake Wales Ridge includes plants and animals of the Florida scrub (and associated upland communities such as sandhills, scrubby flatwoods, seepage slopes, and sandhill upland lakes) that occur in Highlands, Lake, Polk, Orange, and Osceola counties. The list includes only species associated with uplands as defined in the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) database (see FNAI below). The Ridge supports 35 plant taxa (with 21 endemic to the Ridge) and 14 vertebrate taxa (with 2 endemic to the Ridge) listed (as of June 2000) as endangered, threatened, or of special concern by federal or state government, or tracked as rare by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI). This list is linked to internet sources of pictures or brief text.

Two important sets of hard-copy publications exist that contain information about these Ridge species.

1) The FCREPA (Florida Committee on Rare and Endangered Plants and Animals) volumes in the "Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida" series, published by University Press of Florida, are available in most public libraries and bookstores in Florida.

  • plants. Ward, D.B. editor. [1979] Rare and endangered biota of Florida. Volume 5, Plants. Univ. Presses of Florida, Gainesville. [out of print]
  • amphibians and reptiles. Moler, P.A. editor. 1992. Rare and endangered biota of Florida. Volume III, Amphibians and reptiles. Univ. Press of Florida, Gainesville.
  • birds. Rodgers Jr., J.A., H.W. Kale II, and H.T. Smith, editors. 1996. Rare and endangered biota of Florida. Volume V, Birds. Univ. Press of Florida, Gainesville.
  • mammals. Humphrey, S.R. 1992. Rare and endangered biota of Florida. Volume I, Mammals. Univ. Press of Florida, Gainesville.

2) The recently published FNAI (Florida Natural Areas Inventory) field guides are well-illustrated, loose-leaf notebooks that will be updated periodically. These field guides are also available on the Internet.

  • Chafin, L.C. 2000. Field guide to the rare plants of Florida. Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee.
  • Hipes, D., D.R. Jackson, K. NeSmith, D. Printiss, and K. Brandt. 2001. Field guide to the rare animals of Florida. Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee.

Sources of Images
Since 1981, the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) has been tracking Florida's biodiversity. In May 2001, FNAI published their "Field guide to the rare plants of Florida" by Linda C. Chafin. A Web edition was published in June 2001. The "Field guide to rare animals of Florida," by Dan Hipes, et al., was published in hard-copy in 2001, and on the Web in June 2001. (See also: Schultz, G.E., L.G. Chafin, and S.T. Krupenevich. 1999. Rare plant species and high quality natural communities of twenty-six CARL sites in the Lake Wales Ridge Ecosystem. Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee. 200 pp.)
The Institute for Systematic Botany (ISB), at University of South Florida's Herbarium, has developed an illustrated Internet atlas of Florida's plant distribution. Each Lake Wales Ridge plant species listed here is linked to one, or several images (if they exist) at the ISB Web site.

Other Sources of Images
One of the best sources for scrub information is Steve Christman's authoritative "The Florida scrub"  at
the Floridata Web site.
FMNH. The Florida Museum of Natural History is the state's official center for research and education about Florida's diverse natural history. Each department is developing its own Web-based educational resources. We link here to the Herpetology and Bird departments' Web pages.
FWCC. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
ABS. Archbold Biological Station.


Federal Status-USFWS.

  • LE: Listed as Endangered: any species in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
  • LT: Listed as Threatened: a species which is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future.
  • N: Not listed nor being considered for listing.

State Status-FFWCC.

  • LE: Listed as Endangered: a species, subspecies, or isolated population which is so rare or depleted in number or so restricted in range of habitat due to any man-made or natural factor that it is in immediate danger of extinction or extirpation from Florida.
  • LT: Listed as Threatened: a species, subspecies, or isolated population which is acutely vulnerable to environmental alteration, declining in number at a rapid rate, or whose range or habitat is decreasing in area at a rapid rate and as a consequence is destined or very likely to become endangered in the forseeable future.
  • LS: Listed as Species of Special Concern: a species or population which warrants special protection, recognition, or consideration because it has an inherent significant vulnerability to habitat modification, environmental alteration, human disturbance, or substantial human exploitation which, in the forseeable future, may result in its becoming threatened.

State Status-FDA.

  • LE: Listed as Endangered: Plant species native to Florida that are in imminent danger of extinction within the state, the survival of which is unlikely if the causes of a decline in the number of plants continue.
  • LT: Listed as Threatened:  Plant species native to Florida that are in rapid decline in  number of plants within the state, but which have not so decreased in such numbers as to cause them to be endangered.

FNAI-Status Rank. The Global (G) element rank is based on a species' worldwide status; the State (S) rank is based on the species' status in Florida.

  • 1: Critically imperiled. Extremely rare (5 or fewer occurrences or less than 1000 individuals) or extremely vulnerable to extinction.
  • 2: Imperiled. Very rare (6 to 20 occurrences or less than 3000 individuals) or vulnerable to extinction.
  • 3: Either very rare or local throughout its range (21-100 occurrences or less than 10,000 individuals) or found locally in a restricted range or vulnerable to extinction.
  • 4: Apparently secure globally (may be rare in part of its range).
  • 5: Demonstrable secure globally.
  • T: Rank of a taxonomic subgroup; the G portion of the rank refers to the entire species and the T portion refers to the specific subgroup.

blkball.gif (842 bytes) This Endangered Species Web page was not part of the original 1998 booklet, "Florida's Ancient Islands." It was created in June 2000 by Fred E. Lohrer and Hilary M. Swain, Archbold Biological Station.
blkball.gif (842 bytes)Web page design by Fred E. Lohrer and Web development by Anita Huber and Robert Connors, INsight America.
blkball.gif (842 bytes)Web development of this page was made possible by a grant from The Elizabeth Ordway Dunn Foundation to the Archbold Biological Station.
2000, Archbold Biological Station, 7 August 2000; corrections, 10 August 2000; last revision
5 December 2001.
blkball.gif (842 bytes)Webmaster, Fred E. Lohrer flohrer@archbold-station.org

Table 1. Endangered, Threatened, or Rare Species of the
Upland Habitats of the Lake Wales Ridge

Plants                                   status codes
Scientific Name Common Name Federal/State
Legal Status
Other Sources
Asclepias curtissii Curtiss' milkweed N/LE G3/S3  


Bonamia grandiflora Florida bonamia LT/LE  G3/S3  


Calamintha ashei Ashe's savory N/LT G3/S3  


Chionanthus pygmaeus Pygmy fringe-tree LE/LE  G3/S3  


Cladonia perforata Perforate reindeer lichen LE/LE  G1/S1    
Clitoria fragrans Scrub pigeon-wing  LT/LE  G3/S3  


Conradina brevifolia Short-leaved rosemary LE/LE G2/S2  


Crotalaria avonensis Avon Park harebells LE/LE G1/S1  


Dicerandra christmanii Garrett's mint LE/LE  G1/S1  


Dicerandra frutescens Scrub mint LE/LE  G1/S1  


Eriogonum longifolium var.
Scrub buckwheat LT/LE  G4T/S3   ISB  
Eryngium cuneifolium Wedge-leaved button-snakeroot LE/LE G1/S1  


Gymnopogon chapmanianus Chapman's skeletongrass N/N  G3/S3      
Hypericum cumulicola Highlands scrub St. John's-wort LE/LE  G2/S2  


Hypericum edisonianum Edison's ascyrum N/LE G2/S2     ISB  
Ilex opaca var.
Scrub holly N/N G5T3/S3     ISB   Floridata
Illicium parviflorum Yellow star anise N/LE  G2/S2    ISB  
Lechea cernua Nodding pinweed N/LT G3/S3     ISB  
Lechea divaricata Pine pinweed N/LE G2/S2  


Liatris ohlingerae Scrub blazing star LE/LE  G3/S3   ISB   Floridata
Lupinus westianus var.
Scrub lupine LE/LE  G2T1/S1  


Nolina brittoniana Britton's beargrass LE/LE  G2/S2  


Panicum abscissum Cutthroat grass N/LE G3/S3       
Paronychia chartacea
Papery whitlow-wort LT/LE  G3/S3    ISB  
Persea humilis Scrub bay N/N  G3/S3   ISB   Floridata
Polygala lewtonii Lewton's milkwort LE/LE G2/S2   ISB  
Polygonella basiramia Florida jointweed LE/LE  G3/S3  


Polygonella myriophylla Small's jointweed LE/LE  G3/S3    ISB   Floridata
Prunus geniculata Scrub plum LE/LE  S2/S3    ISB   Floridata
Salix floridana Florida willow N/LE G2/S2   ISB  
Schizachyrium niveum Scrub bluestem N/LE  G1/S1      
Stylisma abdita Scrub stylisma N/LE  S2/S3  


Warea amplexifolia Clasping warea LE/LE  G1/S1  


Warea carteri Carter's warea LE/LE G1/S1/S2  


Ziziphus celata Florida ziziphus LE/LE G1/S1    ISB    ABS
Amphibians                          status codes
Scientific Name Common Name Federal/State
Legal Status
FNAI FWCC USF Other Sources
Rana capito Gopher Frog N/LS G3/S3     Floridata
Reptiles                                status codes
Scientific Name Common Name Federal/State
Legal Status
FNAI FWCC USF Other Sources
Drymarcon corais couperi Eastern Indigo Snake T/T G4T3/S3 FWCC   FMNH
Eumeces egregius lividus Bluetail Mole Skink T/T G4T2/S2     Floridata
Gopherus polyphemus Gopher Turtle N/LS G3/S3 FWCC   Floridata
Neoseps reynoldsi Sand Skink T/T G2/S2     Floridata
Pituophis melanoleucas mugitus Florida Pine Snake N/LS G5T3?/S3     FMNH
Sceloporus woodi Scrub Lizard N/N G3/S3     Floridata
Stilosoma extenuatum Short-tailed Snake N/T G3/S3     FMNH
Birds                                    status codes
Scientific Name Common Name Federal/State
Legal Status
FNAI FWCC USF Other Sources
Aphelocoma coerulescens Florida Scrub-Jay   T/T S3     FMNH
Falco sparverius paulus Southeastern American Kestrel N/T G5T3T4/S3?     FMNH
Grus canadensis pratensis Florida Sandhill Crane N/T G5T2T3/S2S3 FWCC    
Mammals                              status codes
Scientific Name Common Name Federal/State
Legal Status
FNAI FWCC USF Other Sources
Podomys floridanus Florida Mouse   N/LS G3/S3    


Sciurus niger shermani Sherman's Fox Squirrel N/LS G5T2/S2 FWCC    
Ursus americanus floridanus Florida Black Bear N/LS G5T2/S2 FWCC