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Listed Species in North Fork St. Lucie River Aquatic Preserve Quick Topics

North Fork St. Lucie Aquatic Preserve provides valuable habitat and protection for a variety of rare and protected species. Currently 33 listed species (11 plants, 2 fish, 5 reptiles, 13 birds, and 2 mammals) and three commercially exploited plant species have been documented in and adjacent to the preserve.

The West Indian manatee is the only listed mammal (endangered at both the federal and state level) found within the preserve. They have been observed using historic riverbends, which are shallower and less traveled than the main channel, as breeding grounds. The Sherman's fox squirrel, listed through the state as a SSC, can be found adjacent to the preserve within Savannas Preserve State Park.

Nesting wood storks

Several listed bird species utilize the preserve. The wood stork, both federally and state-listed as endangered, and several Species of Special Concern (SSC), including little blue heron, osprey, snowy egret and tricolor heron, use the preserve as breeding grounds from February through July each year. Most of these species are regularly seen foraging within the preserve, even outside the breeding season. The brown pelican, a SSC, uses the mangroves for roosting but have not been observed to build nests along the North Fork. The loss or degradation of wetlands in central and south Florida is the primary threat to wood storks and other wading birds.

The American alligator and Florida brown snake are the only listed reptiles that inhabit the preserve. Alligators are a federally-listed threatened species and a state-listed SSC because of their similarity in appearance to the endangered American crocodile. Alligators are most common in the major river drainage basins, such as the tributaries to the IRL and large lakes in central and south Florida. They are tolerant of poor water quality and are commonly seen in local drainage canals, retention ponds and ditches. The Florida brown snake is threatened at the state level and resides in the marshes and uplands adjacent to the preserve, but feeds on fish in the North Fork.

The mangrove rivulus and opossum pipefish are the only two federally-listed fish species in the preserve. These species have a very limited distribution within the continental United States and have unique habitat requirements that should be protected to the greatest extent possible. The mangrove rivulus is a tropical killifish that is widely distributed from Florida to Brazil but locally rare as it reaches the northern extent of its range on both coasts in central Florida. This species was listed by NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) as a SSC in 1997.

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated: September 24, 2010

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