In our continuing series on Florida’s imperiled animals we’re going to look at a coral, a butterfly and a mollusk today.
Elkhorn Coral; Coral; Acropora palmata: The Florida Reef is the third largest reef on the planet and the only living barrier reef in the continental United States. Elkhorn coral is one of the most important reef building corals, but it is struggling with a number of environmental issues, causing an 80% decline in recent decades. It is listed as Federally Threatened in the U.S. and Critically Endangered by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). For more information on this endangered animal species, please checkout MyFWC, Animal Diversity Web, IUCN Red List, NOAA, and the National Park Service.
Photo: By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region (Miami blue butterfly 2 Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/
Miami Blue Butterfly; Insect; Cyclargus thomasi bethunebakeri: This Federally Endangered species was believed to have gone extinct in the 1980s. In 1999 it was discovered in Bahia Honda State Park, but disappeared again in 2010. The only known remaining population exists in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge, where it was discovered in 2006. Loss of habitat, habitat fragmentation and invasive species (green iguanas) are believed the main culprits in the decline of the Miami Blue. You can learn more at MyFWC, UF/IFAS, and the North American Butterfly Association.
Fuzzy Pigtoe; Mollusk; Pleurobema strodeanum: This freshwater mussel is Federally Threatened and listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Only found in Alabama and Florida slow-moving rivers, this bivalve mollusk suffers from habitat loss. While mollusks (Mollusca) are the second largest phylum of animals, many are threatened or endangered. Unfortunately, Fuzzy Pigtoes don’t receive much love and attention, but you can learn more from NatureServe.
We’re just getting started with this series, so please check back for continuing stories of Florida’s Endangered Animal Species.