Effective August 13, 2012, the Chupadera springsnail's 28-year candidacy for listing will be over. In a final rule (pdf) issued July 12, 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Chupadera springsnail (Pyrgulopsis chupaderae) as endangered, and designated critical habitat for the species in the only two units where it is known to occur in Socorro County, New Mexico.
The Chupadera springsnail is a tiny freshwater snail endemic ot Willow Spring and an unnamed spring nearby located on private land near the southeast end of the Chupadera Mountains. Because the species relies on a limited range of conditions in the immediate vicinity of spring vents, and its only means of dispersal is by becoming attached to the feathers and feet of migratory birds, its extremely limited range increases the risk of extinction from other stressors such as ranching, housing development, and associated groundwater depletion. In addition, the Service anticipates that climate change may exacerbate the depletion of groundwater, which could reduce the flow of water to the springheads.
The Chupadera springsnail was first identified as a candidate for listing in 1984. But, until recently, the Service repeatedly determined that its listing was precluded by other higher priority listings.
According to the Service, one of the two known populations was extirpated due to the effects of grazing on the unnamed spring as of 1999, the last time the springs were visited. In addition, the ranch where the springs are located is being subdivided, and developement depends on local well water. Thus, the Service has determined that the Chupadera springsnail is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its limited range from cattle grazing, spring modification, and the threat of groundwater depletion due to development.
The Service also designated two small units of critical habitat: Willow Spring, along with approximately 38 meters of springbrook and associated wet meadow (1.4 acres) and the unnamed spring, including the springhead, springbrook, small seeps and ponds, and associated seasonally wetted meadow (0.5 acres).
Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog focuses on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States. Topics include listing and critical habitat decisions, conservation and recovery planning, inter-agency consultation, and related developments in law, policy, and science. We also inform readers about regulatory and legislative developments, as well as key court decisions.
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