Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
In this final rule, we determine endangered status for the Andean flamingo (
On November 24, 1980, we received a petition (1980 petition) from Dr. Warren B. King, Chairman of the International Council for Bird Preservation (ICBP), to add 60 foreign bird species to the List of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife (50 CFR 17.11(h)), including two species (the Chilean woodstar and the St. Lucia forest thrush) that are the subject of this final rule. In response to the 1980 petition, we published a positive 90-day finding on May 12, 1981 (46 FR 26464) for 58 foreign species, noting that 2 of the foreign species identified in the petition were already listed under the Act, and initiated a status review. On January 20, 1984 (49 FR 2485), we published a 12-month finding within an annual review on pending petitions and description of progress on all species petition findings addressed therein. In that notice, we found that all 58 foreign bird species from the 1980 petition were warranted but precluded by higher priority listing actions. On May 10, 1985, we published the first annual notice (50 FR 19761), in which we continued to find that listing all 58 foreign bird species from the 1980 petition was warranted but precluded. In our next annual notice, published on January 9, 1986 (51 FR 996), we found that listing 54 species from the 1980 petition, including the 2 species that are the subject of this final rule, continued to be warranted but precluded, whereas new information caused us to find that listing 4 other species in the 1980 petition was no longer warranted. We published additional annual notices on the remaining 54 species included in the 1980 petition on July 7, 1988 (53 FR 25511); December 29, 1988 (53 FR 52746); and November 21, 1991 (56 FR 58664), in which we indicated that listing the Chilean woodstar and the St. Lucia forest thrush, along with the remaining species in the 1980 petition, continued to be warranted but precluded.
On May 6, 1991, we received a petition (hereafter referred to as the 1991 petition) from ICBP, to add 53 species of foreign birds to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, including the Andean flamingo, also the subject of this final rule. In response to the 1991 petition, we published a positive 90-day finding on December 16, 1991 (56 FR 65207), for all 53 species, and announced the initiation of a status review. On March 28, 1994 (59 FR 14496), we published a 12-month finding on the 1991 petition, along with a proposed rule to list 30 African birds under the Act (15 each from the 1980 petition and 1991 petition). In that document, we announced our finding that listing the remaining 38 species from the 1991 petition, including Andean flamingo, was warranted but precluded by higher priority listing actions. On January 12, 1995 (60 FR 2899), we published the final rule to list the 30 African birds and reiterated the warranted-but-precluded status of the remaining species from the 1991 petition. We made subsequent warranted-but-precluded findings for all outstanding foreign species from the 1980 and 1991 petitions, including the three species that are the subject of this final rule, as published in our annual notice of review (ANOR) on May 21, 2004 (69 FR 29354), and April 23, 2007 (72 FR 20184).
Per the Service's listing priority guidelines (September 21, 1983; 48 FR 43098), our 2007 ANOR identified the listing priority numbers (LPNs) (ranging from 1 to 12) for all outstanding foreign species. The LPNs for the three species of birds in this final rule were as follows: Andean flamingo (LPN 2), Chilean woodstar (LPN 4), and St. Lucia forest thrush (LPN 3).
On January 23, 2008, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ordered the Service to issue proposed listing rules for five foreign bird species, actions which had been previously determined to be warranted but precluded: Andean flamingo (
On July 29, 2008 (73 FR 44062), we published in the
On December 24, 2008 (73 FR 79226), we published a
In the proposed rule published on December 24, 2008 (73 FR 79226), we requested that all interested parties submit written comments on the proposal by February 23, 2009. We received one comment on the proposed rule from the public that did not support the proposal and one comment that supported the proposal; neither comment contained substantive information. We did not receive any requests for a public hearing.
In accordance with our peer review policy published on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we solicited expert opinion from 12 knowledgeable individuals with scientific expertise that included familiarity with the Andean flamingo, Chilean woodstar, and St. Lucia forest thrush and their habitats, biological needs, and threats. We received responses from three of the peer reviewers, one for each of the species.
We reviewed all comments we received from the peer reviewers for substantive issues and clarifying information regarding the listing of the Andean flamingo, Chilean woodstar, and St. Lucia forest thrush. The peer reviewers generally concurred with our methods and conclusions and provided additional clarifications and suggestions to improve the final rule. Peer reviewer comments and information are addressed and incorporated into the final rule as appropriate.
Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and its implementing regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 50 CFR part 424, set forth the procedures for adding species to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. A species may be determined to be an endangered or threatened species due to one or more of the five factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act. The five factors are: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; and (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
Below is a species-by-species analysis of these five factors. The species are considered in alphabetical order, beginning with the Andean flamingo, and followed by the Chilean woodstar and the St. Lucia forest thrush.
Flamingos (Phoenicopteridae) are gregarious, long-lived birds that inhabit saline wetlands and breed in colonies (del Hoyo 1992, pp. 509-519; Caziani
An adult Andean flamingo has a pale yellow face and pale pink coloring overall. Its upper plumage is brighter pink, with a deeper pink to wine red-colored neck, breast, and wing-coverts (feathers on the upper wing), and prominent black tertial feathers (feathers on the posterior portion of the wing). The bill is pale yellow with a black tip, and the legs and feet are yellow (BLI 2008, p. 1; del Hoyo 1992, p. 526). Young Andean flamingos are grayish in color and achieve full adult plumage in their third year (del Hoyo 1992, p. 526).
Andean flamingo is one of three flamingo species that are endemic to the high Andes of South America (Johnson
The Andean flamingo was first taxonomically described as
Andean flamingos are native to the Andes Mountains, from southern Peru and southwestern Bolivia to northern Chile and northwestern Argentina. They occupy shallow wetlands, collectively called salars, which are characterized as shallow, often saline, lakes (known locally as “
Most of the wetlands in which Andean flamingos are found are “endoreic,” “endorheic,” or closed. These terms refer to internally-draining water networks prevalent in the Andes that are characterized by rivers or bodies of water that do not drain into the sea, but either dry up or terminate in a basin (Caziani
Andean flamingos are altitudinal and opportunistic migrants (Goldfeder and Blanco 2007, p. 190). During the summer (December to January), Andean flamingos generally reside in the puna and altiplano regions of the Andes, at elevations between 11,483 and 14,764 ft (3,500 and 4,500 m). In the winter, they may move to lower elevations—down to 210 ft (64 m) above sea level—along the Peruvian coast and inland primarily to the central plains of Argentina, occasionally to Bolivia, and rarely to Paraguay (Blake 1977, p. 207; BLI 2008, pp. 1 and 6; Boyle
They disperse widely, even while nesting, and can travel long distances, flying from 249 mi (400 km) to 715 mi (1,150 km) daily (Caziani
All flamingos were believed to be monogamous, with a strong pair-bonding tendency that may be maintained from one breeding season to the next (del Hoyo 1992, p. 514). However, studies on greater flamingos (
Chicks remain in the nest 5-12 days, during which time both the parents feed the chick with “milk” secretions formed by glands in their upper digestive tracts (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, p. 85; del Hoyo
Flamingo breeding habits can vary widely from year to year. Flamingos may breed in large numbers for 2 or more successive years, followed by other years in which there is no known breeding. Not all sexually mature adults breed every year and, even in years of breeding, not all sexually mature adults will participate (Bucher 1992, p. 183). Flamingos are generally considered to have poor breeding success (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, p. 85), and Andean flamingos, in particular, have experienced periods of very low breeding success over the past 20 years (Arengo in litt. 2007, p. 2) (See Population Estimates, below). Juvenile mortality rates during dispersal are unknown (Caziani
Andean flamingos are wading filter-feeders, often forming large feeding flocks at wetlands alongside sympatric flamingos, Chilean flamingos (
The Andean flamingo type specimen (the specimen that was first described by Philippi in 1854) was collected from Salar de Atacama, in Antofagasta Province (Chile) (Hellmayr 1932, p. 312). Salar de Atacama is, therefore, referred to as the “type locality.” The species was subsequently reported in Argentina in 1872 (Provinces of Jujuy and Tucumán) (Burmeister 1872, p. 364; Hellmayr and Conover 1948, p. 277), Peru (Departments of Salinas and Arequipa) in 1886 (Hellmayr 1932, p. 312; Hellmayr and Conover 1948, p. 277; Weberbauer 1911, p. 27), and Bolivia in 1902 (Department of Oruru) (Hellmayr and Conover 1948, p. 277; Johnson
The species' movements and distribution within its range were not understood throughout much of the 20th century. Early researchers considered the Andean flamingo to be relatively sedentary (Jenkin 1957, p. 405; Johnson
The current range of the Andean flamingo extends from Peru, through Chile and Bolivia, to Argentina, in wetlands at elevations ranging from sea level (in southern Peru) to 14,764 ft (64 to 4,500 m) (Arengo 2009, p. 16; BLI 2008, pp. 1, 6; Bucher 1992, p. 192; Bucher
Its total extent of occurrence (including sites where breeding does not occur) is estimated as 124,711 square miles (mi
The species' seemingly erratic movements and ability to disperse widely, combined with the harsh climatic conditions and the inaccessibility of flamingo habitat, have made it difficult for researchers to fully understand their seasonal movements and breeding habits (Bucher
Andean flamingos occupy some wetlands year round (where they may or may not breed), some wetlands only during the summer breeding season, and other wetlands only in winter (see Table 1). Recent research established that there is an important, complementary link between breeding and nonbreeding wetlands frequented by Andean flamingos (Derlindati 2008, p. 10). Research in Argentina at highland (breeding) and lowland (non-breeding) sites indicated that, regardless of season, Andean flamingos spend the majority of their time eating (Derlindati 2008, p. 10). They will travel to different wetlands to feed, even while nesting (Bucher 1992, p. 182; Caziani
Several Andean flamingo localities in each range country are described below and in Table 1, organized in alphabetical order by country and name of wetland. This is not an exhaustive accounting of all known wetlands occupied by the species, but includes sites that are frequented by the species or are otherwise notable, such as recently discovered breeding sites. In Table 1, “Type” indicates whether the site is known as a breeding (B) or non-breeding (NB) wetland. In most cases, NB indicates that the species overwinters at the wetland. However, in some cases, Andean flamingos occupy a wetland year-round, but no breeding occurs there. Habitat information was obtained primarily from Ducks Unlimited (2007a-d) and BirdLife International (2008).
In recent decades, the species has nested or overwintered in locations not previously recorded. In January 1998, the first account of Andean flamingos nesting was reported at Laguna Brava (Bucher
Andean flamingos overwinter at both high- and low-elevation wetlands in Argentina. Laguna Guayatayoc is a high-elevation overwintering site for Andean flamingos (Ducks Unlimited 2007a, pp. 1-4), where the species has sometimes been reported in relatively large numbers (Caziani
Salar de Pastos Grandes is another lake system that includes Laguna de Pastos Grandes, Laguna Ramaditas, Laguna Hedionda, Laguna Cañapa, Laguna Cachi, Laguna Khara, Laguna Chulluncani, and Laguna Khar Khota (Ducks Unlimited 2007b, p. 13). This wetland complex provides breeding and non-breeding habitat.
Non-breeding year-round wetlands in Bolivia include: Lago Uru Uru (Ducks Unlimited 2007b, p. 5-8; Kahl 1975, p. 100; Mølgaard
Laguna Saquewa and Laguna Macaya are also important sites for the three flamingo species. During winter, Andean Flamingo numbers can reach up to 2,000.
Salar de Atacama, Salar de Coposa, Salar de Huasco, Salar de Negro Francisco, and Salar de Surire also provide year-round habitat for the Andean flamingo (Caziani
Between 1965 and 1968, Charles Cordier's estimate of the Andean flamingo population varied by an order of magnitude, from 50,000 to 500,000 (as cited in Johnson 1967, p. 404; as cited in Kahl 1975, p. 100). In 1975, Kahl (1975, p. 100) estimated the total population to be 150,000 individuals. This estimate was based on (1) previous estimates; (2) the fact that the largest number of individuals Kahl had seen in one place (Lago Uru Uru, Bolivia) was 18,000 individuals; and (3) that, at most sites, he observed the Andean flamingo to be less numerous than the Chilean flamingo and James' flamingo. In 1986, the population was estimated to be less than 50,000 individuals and declining (Johnson 2000, p. 203). However, the accuracy of earlier population estimates has never been confirmed. According to Arengo (in litt. 2007, p. 2), a member of the Altoandino Flamingo Conservation Group (Grupo de Conservación Flamencos Altoandinos), previous historical population estimates were based on extrapolations of data that are not considered to be reliable. Experts consider the figure of between 50,000 and 100,000 individuals may have been accurate until the mid-1980s (BLI 2008, p. 1). Although the figure of 150,000 (e.g., Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, p. 86) was still being reported in the 1990s, an estimate of 50,000 is considered a more accurate figure (Arengo in litt. 2007, p. 2; BLI 2008 p. 1; del Hoyo
The first simultaneous census of Andean flamingos was conducted in 1997 (Valqui
According to Arengo (in litt. 2007, p. 2), long-term population trends have been difficult to establish, given the unreliability of previous population estimates. However, given that the global population sizes of all other flamingo species are estimated above 100,000 individuals, experts consider the Andean flamingo to be the rarest of the 6 flamingo species (Arengo in litt. 2007, p. 2).
The most recent simultaneous census data indicate that a total of 2,338 chicks survived at breeding colonies located in Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile during the 2006-2007 breeding season (December to February) (Childress
The Andean flamingo is the rarest of six flamingo species worldwide (family Phoenicopteridae). The IUCN considers the Andean flamingo to be “Vulnerable,” because (1) it has undergone a rapid population decline, (2) it is exposed to ongoing exploitation and declines in habitat quality, (3) and, although exploitation may decrease, the longevity and slow breeding of flamingos suggest that the legacy of past threats may persist through generations to come (BLI 2008, p. 1). Long-lived species with slow rates of reproduction and ongoing poor breeding success, such as that being experienced by the Andean flamingo, can quickly decline towards extinction when reproduction does not keep pace with mortality (BLI 2008, p. 2; Bucher 1992, p. 183; del Hoyo
Andean flamingos occupy shallow, saline wetlands in the lowland, puna, and altoandino regions of the Andes (see Table 1) (BLI 2008, pp. 1, 6; Bucher 1992, p. 192; Bucher
The wetlands occupied by Andean flamingos are utilized on a landscape level (Derlindati 2008, p. 10). Andean flamingos prefer water that is less than 3 ft (1m) deep (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, p. 86; Mascitti and Casteñera 2006, p. 331) and rely on the variety of habitat options at wetland complexes throughout the species' range to select optimal nesting and feeding sites. Beginning in 2002, researchers conducted a multi-year Andean flamingo dispersal study, to determine overwintering sites and spatial and temporal movements (Caziani
Between 1997 and 2001, 98 percent of Andean flamingo chicks were produced in two Chilean wetlands—Surire (9,200 chicks) and Atacama (3,378 chicks) (Caziani
The Andean region where the Andean flamingo occurs is characterized by an extensive series of endoreic (closed) water systems that drain internally, that are recharged primarily by summer rains, that contract seasonally, and that may occasionally dry out completely (see Factor E) (Bucher 1992, p. 182; Caziani and Derlindati 2000, pp. 124-125; Caziani
Mineral extraction, water contamination, water extraction, and water diversion from mining, agriculture, grazing, urban development, and increasing tourism are ongoing activities that negatively impact wetland habitats that support Andean flamingos throughout the species' range (Arengo in litt. 2007, p. 2; Childress
Argentinean wetlands—including Laguna Brava, Purulla, Grande, Baya, Diamante (these last three part of the Galan Complex), Laguna Pozuelos, and Lagunas de Vilama, where Andean flamingos breed and live year-round—are also under pressure to allow mining in these areas (BLI 2008, p. 553; Caziani
In Bolivia, there are proposals to exploit lithium, potassium, and borium from Salar de Coipasa (Ducks Unlimited 2007b, p. 11) and Pastos Grandes (New World Resource Corp 2008, p. 1)—both known breeding and overwintering sites for the Andean flamingo. Bolivia contains an estimated 50 percent of the world's supply of the lithium that is used to make batteries for portable electronic equipment. The largest known lithium deposit in the world is located in the Bolivian altiplano—the Pastos Grandes concession (New World Resource Corp 2008, p. 2). Lithium can be extracted directly from the saline water in the alitplano salars; this water is referred to by the mining industry as “brine.” The brine is pumped through a series of evaporation ponds to concentrate the lithium (New World Resource Corp 2008, p. 4). Obtaining lithium from brine is considered more cost-effective in the mining industry than the other alternative, extracting lithium from hard rock (New World Resource Corp 2008, p. 4). Nearly all the world's supply of brine-derived lithium comes from the Chilean and Argentinean altiplanos (New World Resource Corp 2008, p. 4). In Peru, Laguna Loriscota and Laguna Vizcachas are being prospected to extract or divert water to feed mining operations. These areas are currently being reviewed as Important Bird Areas (Arengo 2009, p. 34).
Intensive exploitation of natural resources has degraded the soil and ecology of the region, resulting in extensive erosion, river sedimentation, soil salinization, silting up of lakes, and water imbalances in watersheds that contribute to extreme fluctuations in water flows (Jellison
Tourism and increasing h