Listed Species in North Fork St. Lucie River Aquatic Preserve
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.
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
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.
September 24, 2010
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
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