Threatened and Endangered Species
- Everglades snail kite, American alligator, eastern indigo snake, wood stork, and Florida panther are among the threatened and endangered species found in freshwater marsh habitats
Threatened wildlife includes species, subspecies, or isolated populations that are likely to become endangered in the near future unless steps are taken to protect and manage the species and/or its habitat for its survival. A species, subspecies, or isolated population is considered endangered that is, or soon may be, in immediate danger of extinction unless the species or its habitat is fully protected.
The survival of the Everglades snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus) is dependent upon the survival of its prey, the apple snail. This bird feeds almost exclusively on this snail with a hooked beak specially adapted for removing the snail from its shell. However, the loss of freshwater marshes has greatly decreased habitat available for the apple snail and the Everglades snail kite. In 1967 this kite was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act with little hope for recovery without restoration of the natural flow of water within the Everglades region. It is one the rarest birds in this country, with only a few hundred left in Florida.
The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is also found in the freshwater marshes of the Everglades. It was first listed as endangered in 1966 in accordance with the Endangered Species Act. However, populations quickly recovered resulting in delisting as an endangered species except for purposes of its similarity of appearance to the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) where the two species share habitat.
The eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) is federally listed as a threatened species. This snake lives in a variety of habitats with the Everglades including freshwater marshes.
The endangered wood stork (Mycteria americana) can be found wading in the waters of freshwater marshes, snatching small fish, tadpoles, and crayfish with its bill.
Another federally listed mammal that frequents marshlands is the Florida panther (Felis concolor coryi).
Glossary terms on page:
- threatened species: plants or animals likely to become endangered in the near future.
- species: phylogenic category more specific than genus, a population or group of populations that are in reproductive contact but are reproductively isolated from other populations.
- subspecies: a population of species isolated and genetically distinguishable from other populations of that species, shows identifiable characteristics different from other subspecies. Members of one subspecies can interbreed with members of other subspecies of the same species.
- population: a group of interacting individuals of the same species, area, or community.