Providing Science for the Conservation of Animals in the Southeastern Longleaf Pine Ecosystem

Clint Moore, USGS Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Project Completion:  December 2019.
Implements Science Plan Theme: 2 and 4

Overview

The southeastern U.S. is home to more than half of the animal and plant species that are being reviewed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to determine if they are threatened or endangered due to losses or changes in habitat. The longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) ecosystem, which is native to the southeastern U.S., supports several animal species that are considered a priority to be reviewed, based on significant threats, how much knowledge we have about the species, and opportunities for conserving them. These include the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus), striped newt (Notophthalmus perstriatus), gopher frog (Rana capito), southern hognose snake (Heterodon simus), and Florida pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus).  This ecosystem also supports a large number of priority plants. State wildlife agencies in the Southeast are partnering with USFWS to assess the status of these species and to implement actions that will protect and restore them on public and private lands.

This project will build on studies related to the gopher tortoise that are already underway by the USGS and will engage collaborations with other partners conducting species assessments to identify conservation actions expected to improve the status of five priority at-risk species (mentioned above) in the longleaf pine ecosystem.  These actions will be based on an updated analysis of the status and distribution of these species and their habitats, current and future threats to these habitats, and the likelihood that specific actions will achieve their intended effect.

This work will accelerate efforts needed to prevent the potential loss of species in this important ecosystem, especially with projected changes in climate and urban growth.

This project is integrated with another SE CSC project, An adaptive landscape planning and decision framework for gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) conservation.

More Information

View a recorded webinar that introduces the project: