[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 196 (Thursday, October 9, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 61135-61161]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-23686]



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Vol. 79

Thursday,

No. 196

October 9, 2014

Part II





Department of the Interior





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Fish and Wildlife Service





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50 CFR Part 17





 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Species 
Status for Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum (Florida Bristle 
Fern); Proposed Rules

Federal Register / Vol. 79 , No. 196 / Thursday, October 9, 2014 / 
Proposed Rules

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2014-0044; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-AY97


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Species 
Status for Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum (Florida Bristle Fern)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, propose to list 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum (Florida bristle fern), a plant 
subspecies from Miami-Dade and Sumter Counties in Florida, as an 
endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act). If we finalize this rule as proposed, it would extend the Act's 
protections to this plant and add this plant to the Federal List of 
Endangered and Threatened Plants.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before 
December 8, 2014. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES below) must be received by 11:59 p.m. 
Eastern Time on the closing date. We must receive requests for public 
hearings, in writing, at the address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT by November 24, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R4-ES-2014-0044, 
which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the Search 
panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, 
click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You may 
submit a comment by clicking on ``Comment Now!''
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail to: Public Comments 
Processing, Attn: FWS-R4-ES-2014-0044; Division of Policy and 
Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 
Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This 
generally means that we will post any personal information you provide 
us (see Information Requested, below, for more information).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Aubrey, Field Supervisor, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, South Florida Ecological Services Office, 
1339 20th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960; by telephone 772-562-3909; or 
by facsimile 772-562-4288. Persons who use a telecommunications device 
for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service 
(FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Summary

    Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Endangered Species Act 
(Act), if we find that a species warrants listing as an endangered or 
threatened species throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range, we are required to promptly publish a proposal in the Federal 
Register and make a determination on our proposal within 1 year. 
Listing a species as an endangered or threatened species can only be 
completed by issuing a rule. In the near future, we intend to propose 
to designate critical habitat for Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum 
under the Act. Critical habitat is prudent, but not determinable at 
this time. We will publish a proposal to designate critical habitat for 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum under the Act in the near future.
    This rule proposes to list Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum 
(Florida bristle fern) as an endangered species.
    The basis for our action. Under the Act, we may determine that a 
species is an endangered or threatened species based on any of five 
factors: (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; or (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its 
continued existence. We have determined that the threats to Trichomanes 
punctatum ssp. floridanum consist primarily of destruction and 
modification of habitat resulting in changes in canopy, humidity, 
hydrology, and fragmentation (Factor A); and proliferation of nonnative 
invasive species, natural stochastic events including hurricanes and 
tropical storms, and impacts from climate change including temperature 
shifts and sea level rise (Factor E).
    We will seek peer review. We will seek comments from independent 
specialists to ensure that our determination is based on scientifically 
sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We will invite these peer 
reviewers to comment on our listing proposal. Because we will consider 
all comments and information we receive during the comment period, our 
final determination may differ from this proposal.

Information Requested

Public Comments

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule 
will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and 
be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request 
comments or information from other concerned governmental agencies, 
Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any 
other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. We particularly 
seek comments concerning:
    (1) Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum's biology, range, and 
population trends, including:
    (a) Biological or ecological requirements of the plant, including 
habitat requirements;
    (b) Genetics and taxonomy;
    (c) Historical and current range, including distribution patterns;
    (d) Historical and current population levels, and current and 
projected trends; and
    (e) Past and ongoing conservation measures for the plant, its 
habitat, or both.
    (2) Factors that may affect the continued existence of the plant, 
which may include habitat modification or destruction, overutilization, 
disease, predation, the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, 
or other natural or manmade factors.
    (3) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threats (or lack thereof) to this plant and existing regulations 
that may be addressing those threats.
    (4) Additional information concerning the historical and current 
status, range, distribution, and population size of this plant, 
including the locations of any additional populations of the plant.
    Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as 
scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to 
verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
    Please note that submissions merely stating support for or 
opposition to the action under consideration without providing 
supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in 
making a determination, as section

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4(b)(1)(A) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) directs that 
determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or threatened 
species must be made ``solely on the basis of the best scientific and 
commercial data available.''
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We request 
that you send comments only by the methods described in the ADDRESSES 
section.
    If you submit information via http://www.regulations.gov, your 
entire submission--including any personal identifying information--will 
be posted on the Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy 
that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the 
top of your document that we withhold this information from public 
review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We 
will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, South Florida Ecological Services Office (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Public Hearing

    Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for one or more public hearings 
on this proposal, if requested. Requests must be received within 45 
days after the date of publication of this proposed rule in the Federal 
Register. Such requests must be sent to the address shown in the FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. We will schedule public hearings 
on this proposal, if any are requested, and announce the dates, times, 
and places of those hearings, as well as how to obtain reasonable 
accommodations, in the Federal Register and local newspapers at least 
15 days before the hearing.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our joint policy on peer review published in the 
Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), during the public 
comment period we will seek the expert opinions of appropriate and 
independent specialists regarding this proposed rule. The purpose of 
peer review is to ensure that our proposed listing determination is 
based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. The peer 
reviewers will have expertise in Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum's biology, habitat, and physical or biological factors.

Previous Federal Actions

    Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum was first recognized as a 
candidate for possible future listing on November 9, 2009 (74 FR 
57804), and we assigned the subspecies a listing priority number (LPN) 
of 3. Candidate species are assigned LPNs based on immediacy and 
magnitude of threats, as well as taxonomic status. The lower the LPN, 
the higher priority that species is for us to determine appropriate 
action using our available resources (September 21, 1983; 48 FR 43098). 
An LPN of 3 is the lowest LPN appropriate for a subspecies such as this 
fern, indicating that it is a high priority for the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service (Service) to determine appropriate action. T. p. ssp. 
floridanum has remained on the candidate list with an LPN of 3 since 
2009 (see 78 FR 70104, November 22, 2013; 77 FR 69994, November 21, 
2012; 76 FR 66370, October 26, 2011; 75 FR 69222, November 10, 2010; 74 
FR 57804, November 9, 2009).
    On May 10, 2011, the Service announced a workplan to restore 
biological priorities and certainty to the listing process. As part of 
an agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth 
Guardians, we filed the workplan with the U.S. District Court for the 
District of Columbia. The workplan will enable the agency, over a 
period of 6 years, to systematically review and address the needs of 
more than 250 species, including Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum, 
that were identified in our November 10, 2010, candidate notice of 
review (CNOR), published in the Federal Register at 75 FR 69222, ssp. 
floridanum to determine if these species should be added to the Federal 
Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. This workplan 
will enable the Service to again prioritize its workload based on the 
needs of candidate species, while also providing State wildlife 
agencies, stakeholders, and other partners clarity and certainty about 
when listing determinations will be made. On July 12, 2011, the Service 
reached an agreement with another plaintiff group and further 
strengthened the workplan, which will allow the agency to focus its 
resources on the species most in need of protection under the Act. 
These agreements were approved by the court on September 9, 2011. We 
are making this proposed listing determination for Trichomanes 
punctatum ssp. floridanum now as part of the court-approved workplan.

Background

    It is our intent to discuss below only those topics directly 
relevant to the listing of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum as an 
endangered species in this proposed rule.
Species Description
    Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum, commonly referred to as the 
Florida bristle fern, is mat-forming, has no roots, and contains 
trichomes (hairlike/bristlelike outgrowths) on the tip of the fern 
(Wunderlin and Hansen 2000, pp. 153-154). This subspecies is very small 
in size and superficially resembles other bryophytes, such as mosses 
and liverworts, making it difficult to observe in its natural habitat. 
T. p. ssp. floridanum has thin veinlets (small veins) that are not 
enlarged towards the margin while veins are uniform in width to their 
apices (tips) (Nauman 1986, p. 179); fronds (leaves of ferns) are 
considered simple (Morton 1963, p. 89).
    Wunderlin and Hansen (2000, pp. 153-154) described Trichomanes 
punctatum ssp. floridanum as having separated leaves, with the petiole 
(stalk by which a leaf is attached to a plant) 0.1-2.0 centimeters (cm) 
(0.04-0.79 inches (in)) long and typically shorter than the blade. The 
blade is fan-shaped, round, entire or irregularly lobed at the apex, 
and 0.5-2.0 cm (0.20-0.79 in) long and 0.2-1.1 cm (0.08-0.43 in) wide. 
This subspecies has few false veins, and its true veins are not 
enlarged at their apex.
    One unique characteristic of this plant is that it lacks cuticles 
(the protective layer that cover the epidermis, which is the outermost 
layer of cells that cover the leaves) or has highly reduced cuticles, 
and has differentiated epidermises and stomata (small openings in 
leaves and stems through which gases are exchanged), causing dependence 
on elevated moisture conditions because a barrier is not present to 
prevent unregulated loss of water (Kr[ouml]mer and Kessler 2006, p. 
57). This dependence restricts most Trichomanes spp. to shaded areas 
with high humid forested environments, making them more vulnerable to 
changes in localized climatic conditions (Schuster 1971, p. 91; Nauman 
1986, pp. 181-182; van der Heiden 2014, p. 5).
Taxonomy
    The genus Trichomanes contains approximately 320 species of ferns 
that occur primarily in the tropics and generally lack ecological 
information (Nauman 1986, p. 179; Nelson 2000, p. 77). The genus 
belongs to the family

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Hymenophyllaceae and the hymenophylloid clade, where ferns are also 
referred to as filmy ferns, which represents the thin, filmy leaves of 
the species (Nelson 2000, p. 77). The common name, bristle fern, is 
used to reference the bristlelike structure that protrudes from the 
mature sporangia (a structure that holds and produces spores) (Nelson 
2000, p. 77).
    Five species commonly known as bristle ferns (Trichomanes spp.) 
have been found in Florida (Kr[ouml]mer and Kessler 2006, p. 57). 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum is a subspecies of Trichomanes 
punctatum, the current taxonomy of which is the result of monographic 
revision of Trichomanes sections (a taxonomic rank or position below 
the genus but above the species) Didymoglossum and Microgonium by 
Wessels Boer (1962, pp. 300-301). All U.S. species of Trichomanes now 
belong to the section Didymoglossum, except T. boschianum (Morton 
1963). Wessels Boer, in reviewing specimens from throughout the 
American tropics, determined that all Trichomanes plants in Florida 
represented the same taxon, not two separate species, and that T. 
sphenoides (which he described as T. punctatum sphenoides) only 
occurred in tropical America and not in Florida. He further determined 
that Trichomanes plants in Florida were different from those in the 
tropics and described them as a new subspecies, Trichomanes punctatum 
ssp. floridanum (Boer 1962, pp. 300-301). This treatment has been 
followed by almost all subsequent authors (Lakela and Long 1976, p. 53; 
Wunderlin 1982, p. 32; Lellinger 1985, p. 205; Nauman 1986, p. 181; 
Flora of North America Editorial Committee 1993, p. 196; Wunderlin 
1998, p. 44; Nelson 2000, p. 81; Wunderlin and Hansen 2000, p. 153; 
Wunderlin and Hansen 2003, p. 44). The only exception is Long and 
Lakela (1971, p. 73), who treated the subspecies as T. punctatum 
without further explanation. Additionally, the Florida Department of 
Agriculture and Consumer Services (2013, https://www.flrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?title=PRESERVATION%20OF%20NATIVE%20FLORA%20OF%20FLORIDA&ID=5B-40.0055), the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (2011, p. 1), 
NatureServe (2013, http://explorer.natureserve.org/servlet/NatureServe?loadTemplate=tabular_report.wmt&paging=home&save=all&sourceTemplate=reviewMiddle.wmt), the online Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants 
(Wunderlin and Hansen 2008, (http://www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=1122), the Flora of North America (http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=233501316), and the 
Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI, 2013, http://fnai.org/trackinglist.cfm) use the name T. p. ssp. floridanum and indicate that 
this subspecies' taxonomic standing is accepted. In summary, there is 
consensus that Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum is a distinct 
taxon.
    Currently there are two extant metapopulations (a group of 
spatially separated populations) of this subspecies (Gann et al. 2002, 
pp. 552-554), comprised of four populations in Miami-Dade County and 
two in Sumter County separated by a distance of approximately 400 
kilometers (km) (249 miles (mi)). Both extant metapopulations residing 
in Miami-Dade and Sumter Counties are considered T. p. ssp. floridanum; 
however, until recently, genetics sampling had not been conducted 
providing conclusive evidence that these metapopulations are in fact 
the same taxon. As noted by Small (1938, p. 50), the Sumter 
metapopulation is a considerable distance from where T. p. ssp. 
floridanum was first discovered (i.e., south Florida) and resides in a 
climate and habitat unlike the Miami-Dade County metapopulation. These 
differences are likely why Morton (1963, p. 90) suggested that the 
previous determination of these two metapopulations be reviewed. In 
March 2014, the Service contracted researchers from Florida Atlantic 
University to determine if the two metapopulations were the same 
subspecies. Samples were collected from both metapopulations for 
genetic analysis. DNA was isolated from the samples, and sequencing was 
completed on five samples from each metapopulation. Researchers found 
no observable differences in the sequence between the five samples 
collected from Miami-Dade County and the five samples from Sumter 
County, indicating that both metapopulations are the same subspecies 
(Hughes 2014, pp. 1-4).
Life History
    The life cycle of ferns is not well known (Woodmansee 2013, pers. 
comm.); the specific life history of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum, including information on other members of the genus, is 
also lacking. Like all ferns, this taxon has two life-history stages, a 
gametophyte stage and a sporophyte stage. However, only the sporophyte 
form is recognizable in the wild, as spores of this plant are invisible 
to the naked eye (Possley 2013a, pers. comm.; van der Heiden 2013b, 
pers. comm.).
    All reported populations of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum 
have been in the sporophyte stage. The initial stage, after a spore 
germinates, is the gametophyte stage. The gametophyte contains separate 
sperm and egg-producing structures. In the presence of water or 
moisture, sperm reach the eggs for fertilization. Fertilized eggs, 
under the proper conditions, develop into sporophytes--the typical form 
most ferns are observed in. The sporophytes produce spores, which in 
turn can germinate to produce new gametophytes (Nelson 2000, pp. 17-
19). Reproduction may also occur in two other ways. Plants may 
reproduce by division, when rhizomes (horizontal, underground plant 
stems capable of producing the shoot and root systems of a new plant) 
break, forming clones of the parent plant, or they may also reproduce 
with the production of gemmae (cells that detach from the parent and 
develop into a new individual) and propagules (a plant part that 
becomes detached from the rest of the plant and grows into a new plant) 
produced by gametophytes, which can grow into new gametophytes of the 
same genotype (the genetic makeup of a cell or individual) (Dassler and 
Farrar 2001, p. 354; Hill 2003, p. 12).
    Although it has been suggested that plants sporulate (produce 
spores) mostly in the spring and summer (Nauman, 1986, p. 182), field 
observations in Miami-Dade County have observed sporangia in the months 
of February, March, May, August, October, and December. The plants are 
likely fertile any time of year; however, during the dry season, 
sporophytes have been observed to desiccate and probably do not produce 
spores (Possley 2013e, pers. comm.). In Sumter County, sporangia have 
been observed from April through September; however, researchers 
suggest they are likely producing all year with peaks in the wet season 
(van der Heiden 2013c, pers. comm.). For Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum, specific reproductive and growth requirements, such as 
moisture levels needed for each stage of its life history, plant 
longevity, growth rates, recruitment rates, dispersal methods, and 
genetic variation, are currently unknown.
    Recent field studies in Sumter County on extant Trichomanes 
punctatum ssp. floridanum populations found average relative humidity 
to be around 95 percent, while ambient temperatures were recorded to 
stay around 23 degrees Celsius ([deg]C) (73 degrees Fahrenheit 
([deg]F)). However, during cooler periods (19-22

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[deg]C; 66-70[emsp14][deg]F) when humidity levels dropped slightly (to 
around 92 percent humidity), observed plant health declined, 
demonstrating the fragile nature of this taxon and its dependence on 
high humid conditions (van der Heiden and Johnson 2014, p. 9). This 
type of information needs to be further explored to determine habitat 
requirements (i.e., thresholds for humidity and temperature) for both 
metapopulations of this taxon.
    Organizations such as the Institute for Regional Conservation (IRC) 
and Fairchild's Center for Tropical Plant Conservation (Fairchild) are 
working together to understand the biology, life history, and 
reproduction of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum. In 2002, IRC and 
Fairchild collaborated with fern culture experts from Marie Selby 
Botanical Gardens (MSBG) in Sarasota, Florida, and tissue culture 
experts at the Lindner Center for Conservation and Research on 
Endangered Wildlife (CREW) in Cincinnati, Ohio (Gann et al. 2009, pp. 
35-36). Currently, Fairchild has grown 14 separate clusters from plants 
obtained in local hammocks (temperate hardwood forests) and monitored 
by their organization. The success of this effort to grow healthy T. p. 
ssp. floridanum has yet to be determined due to several factors 
including: slow growth rates, the formation of unusual linear fronds, 
the susceptibility to mold, and the lack of sporulation (Possley et al. 
2013, pp. 43-45). However, researchers at CREW have recently developed 
a successful method to culture T. p. ssp. floridanum in-vitro and 
cryopreserve (to preserve by freezing at low temperatures) sporophytes 
(V. Pence, submitted; Pence and Charls 2006, pp. 29-34). The new plants 
from CREW have recently been transferred to MSBG, and plans are 
underway to establish T. p. ssp. floridanum onto limestone rock, which 
could potentially be transferred to solution hole (see description 
under ``Habitat'' section, below) walls for eventual reintroduction 
(Holst 2014, pers. comm.).
Habitat
    In southeastern North America, Trichomanes spp. are considered rare 
because of their delicate nature and requirements for deeply sheltered 
habitats with almost continuous high moisture and humidity (Farrar 
1993b, pp. 190-197; Zots and Buche 2000, p. 203), restricting them from 
a more widespread pre-glaciation distribution. Trichomanes punctatum 
ssp. floridanum is considered strongly hygrophilous (growing or adapted 
to damp or wet conditions) and generally perceived as restricted to 
constantly humid microhabitat (Kr[ouml]mer and Kessler 2006, p. 57). T. 
p. ssp. floridanum occurs only in the U.S. in the State of Florida. In 
Florida, T. p. ssp. floridanum is only known to occur in Miami-Dade and 
Sumter Counties.
    Both extant metapopulations live in dense canopy habitats, with 
shady conditions that may be obligatory due to the poikilohydric (i.e., 
possess no mechanism to prevent desiccation) nature of some fern 
species (Kr[ouml]mer and Kessler 2006, p. 57). The canopy directly 
contributes to the surrounding humidity of an area. Dense canopies 
found in rockland habitats can minimize temperature fluctuations by 
reducing soil warming during the day and heat loss at night. In areas 
with greater temperature variations, as in Sumter County, this 
temperature minimization effect can help prevent frost damage to the 
interior of the hammock (FNAI 2010, p. 25). Mesic conditions are 
further maintained by the hammock's rounded canopy profile, which 
deflects winds, limiting desiccation during dry periods and reducing 
interior storm damage (FNAI 2010, p. 25). Changes in the canopy can 
impact humidity and evaporation rates, as well as the amount of light 
available to the understory.
    In Miami-Dade County, Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum is 
generally epiphytic (a plant that grows non-parasitically upon another 
plant) or epipetric (growing on rocks), typically growing in rocky 
outcrops of rockland hammocks, in oolitic (composed of minute rounded 
concretions resembling fish eggs) limestone solution holes, and, 
occasionally, on tree roots in limestone-surrounded areas (Phillips 
1940, p. 166; Nauman 1986, p. 180; Whitney et al. 2004, pp. 105-106; 
Possley 2013f, pers. comm.; van der Heiden 2014b, pers. comm.). These 
rockland habitats are outcrops primarily comprised of marine limestone 
representing the distinct geological formation of the Miami Rock Ridge, 
a feature which encompasses a broad area from Miami to Homestead, 
Florida, and narrows westward through the Long Pine Key area of 
Everglades National Park (ENP) (Snyder et al. 1990, pp. 233-234). 
Several endemic plant species have been identified to be closely 
associated with the rocklands of southern Florida; these plants are 
believed to have no adaptation for long-distance dispersal, suggesting 
a lengthy period of evolution on rocky substrate in southern Florida 
(Snyder et al. 1990, p. 236).
    Rockland hammocks are a type of rich tropical hardwood hammock 
(forest) on upland sites in areas where limestone is very near the 
surface and often exposed. Once numerous throughout South Florida, 
these rockland hammocks have a diverse closed canopy and shrub layer, 
where more than 120 native tree and shrub species are known to occur, 
including a number of rare plant and animal species, federally listed 
and candidate species, South Florida endemics, and tropical species at 
or near the northern limit of their ranges (Phillips 1940, p. 166; 
Snyder et al.1990, p. 16; Gann et al. 2009, p. 3). The forest floor is 
characterized by leaf litter with varying amounts of exposed limestone 
and has few herbaceous species. Rockland hammocks generally consist of 
larger, mature trees in the interior, while the margins can be almost 
impenetrable due to dense growth of smaller shrubs, trees, and vines 
(FNAI 2010, pp. 24-27). The canopy cover is typically very dense where 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum occurs. In Miami-Dade County, the 
hammocks consist of a mix of temperate and tropical hardwood trees, 
both canopy and understory, including Ocotea coriacea (lancewood), 
Coccoloba diversifolia (pigeon plum), Quercus virginiana (live oak), 
Simarouba glauca (paradise tree), Ficus aurea (strangler fig), and 
Sideroxylon foetidissimum (mastic) (see Snyder et al. 1990, p. 241, for 
complete list). Soils where T. p. ssp. floridanum is extant in Miami-
Dade County generally consist of an uneven layer of highly organic soil 
overlying rock (Snyder et al.1990, p. 238); soils are classified as 
Matecumbe Muck (moderately well-drained soils that are very shallow) 
(Florida Geographic Data Library 2013, http://www.fgdl.org/). Soils 
from historical and extant records consist of the following soil types: 
Krome Very Gravelly Loam, Cardsound Silty Clay Loam-Rock Outcrop 
Complex, Opalocka Sand-Rock Outcrop Complex, and Dania Muck.
    The limestone solution holes consist of bare rock walls that are 
considered specialized habitat within these hammock areas that host 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum, as well as several other fern 
species (Snyder et al. 1990, p. 247). The solution hole features that 
dominate the appearance of rock surface in the Miami Rock Ridge are 
steep-sided pits, varying in size, formed by dissolution of subsurface 
limestone followed by a collapse above (Snyder et al. 1990, p. 236). 
Limestone solution holes vary in size, from shallow holes less than 0.5 
meter (m) (1.6 feet (ft)) deep to those that cover over 100 m\2\ (1,076 
ft\2\) and are several meters deep (Snyder et al. 1990, p. 238). The 
bottoms

[[Page 61140]]

of most solution holes are filled with organic soils, while deeper 
solution holes penetrate the water table and have (at least 
historically) standing water for part of the year (Snyder et al. 1990, 
pp. 236-238). Humidity levels are higher in and around the solution 
holes because of standing water and moisture retained in the organic 
soils. Many tropical, epipetric plant species are associated with the 
sinkholes and solution holes in rockland hammocks.
    In Sumter County, Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum is known to 
be epipetric, residing on limestone boulders in high atmospheric 
humidity hammocks (van der Heiden 2013a, pers. comm). Plants live in a 
mesic hammock on limestone boulders 0.1-1.5 m (0.3-4.9 ft) tall (see 
``Current Range'' section, below). Mesic hammock is a developed 
evergreen hardwood and/or palm forest on soils that are rarely 
inundated (FNAI 2010, pp. 19-23) and commonly associated with hydric 
hammock and mixed wetland hardwoods. The difference between mesic 
hammocks and surrounding habitats is a slight difference in elevation; 
mesic hammocks occur on higher ground within basin or floodplain 
wetlands, as patches of oak/palm forest in dry prairie or flatwoods 
communities, on river levees, or in ecotones (transition area between 
two biomes or areas of distinct plant and animal groups) between 
wetlands and upland communities and at the edges of lakes, sinkholes, 
other depressional or basin wetlands, and river floodplains where 
natural fires do not occur (FNAI 2010, pp. 19-23). Historically, mesic 
hammocks were thought to be restricted to naturally fire-protected 
areas such as islands and peninsulas of lakes.
    Although there are several occurrences of Trichomanes punctatum 
ssp. floridanum in Sumter County where sunlight can be observed through 
the canopy, generally the habitat is shaded throughout the year, with 
the lowest amount of canopy cover recorded at 64 percent (van der 
Heiden and Johnson 2013, pp. 8, 20). T. p. ssp. floridanum has been 
observed growing on small limestone rocks, as well as boulders with 
tall, horizontal faces with numerous other species, including rare 
State-listed species (e.g., Asplenium cristatum (hemlock spleenwort)) 
and widespread Pecluma dispersa (widespread polypody) (van der Heiden 
2013b, pers. comm.; van der Heiden and Johnson 2013, p. 7).
    Within one occupied Sumter County hammock (Rocky Hammock), the 
majority of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum occur on the northern 
face of limestone boulders; however, those clusters found on non-north-
facing limestone generally occur in close proximity to other boulders, 
trees, or within protected crevices (van der Heiden and Johnson 2014, 
p. 7). It has been suggested the northern aspect of limestone boulders 
are more often inhabited by this taxon because of the reduced exposure 
to sunlight, promoting cooler temperatures and higher moisture as 
compared to other sun-exposed sections of rock. This may also be the 
case for those clusters shielded by other boulders, by trees, or in 
crevices, allowing the plant to grow on any portion of the shielded 
rock as long as moisture levels remain high enough to prevent 
desiccation (van der Heiden and Johnson 2014, pp. 9-10). Additionally, 
both populations of T. p. ssp. floridanum in Sumter County grow within 
the northern quadrant of each hammock.
    Soils of mesic hammock are sands mixed with organic matter, often 
containing a thick layer of leaf litter and generally well-drained. 
Although some areas maintain high moisture soils due to the 
accumulation of leaf litter and extensive canopy cover, in general, 
mesic hammocks can occur across a broad gradient of soil moisture 
conditions, from somewhat xeric to almost hydric soils. Rock outcrops 
may also occur in mesic hammocks, especially where limestone is near 
the surface (FNAI 2010, pp. 19-23). Soil types for the extant 
metapopulation of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum in Sumter 
County include Okeelanta Muck, Frequently Flooded, and Mabel Fine Sand 
(i.e., deep and very deep, somewhat poorly drained, slowly permeable 
soils that formed in sandy to clayey marine deposits, with a bouldery 
(abounding in rocks or stones) subsurface and 0-5 percent slopes 
(Florida Geographic Data Library 2013, http://www.fgdl.org/)). 
Additionally, one historical record has Adamsville Fine Sand, Bouldery 
Subsurface, while another population containing a questionable record 
from an extirpated population has what is classified as Malabar Fine 
Sand, Frequently Flooded.
    Plant communities associated with mesic hammocks vary depending on 
the latitude; tropical species gradually increase in frequency from the 
central to southern peninsular Florida. In south Florida, some high-
elevation areas dry enough to support a semi-tropical mesic hammock do 
exist; however, most ``high hammocks'' are rockland hammocks occurring 
on limestone (FNAI 2010, pp. 19-23). Q. virginiana is common in mesic 
hammock communities. Oak species found in these hammocks tend to 
possess a broader tolerance of a range of conditions than do oaks in 
other habitats (FNAI 2010, pp. 19-23). Mesic hammocks do not contain 
wetland trees, as found in hydric hammocks; however, these two hammock 
types often occur as intermixed stands. Because mesic hammocks are 
often associated with hydric hammocks, with wetlands, or as a 
transition to uplands, they are sensitive to hydrologic alteration in 
the landscape. For example, changes in flooding frequency and/or 
duration can kill most mesic hammock tree species, while lowered water 
tables can shift vegetation towards xeric species or promote wildfires, 
destroying the hammock (FNAI 2010, pp. 19-23). Mesic hammocks may be 
distinguished from rockland hammocks by the dominance of temperate 
species in the canopy, whereas rockland hammocks are comprised of 
predominantly tropical woody species.
    Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum in Sumter County can be found 
under a dense canopy including Q. virginiana, Sabal palmetto (cabbage 
palm), Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam), Celtis laevigata 
(sugarberry), Acer negundo (boxelder), Liquidambar styraciflua 
(sweetgum), and Sapindus saponaria (wingleaf soapberry) (van der Heiden 
2013c, pers. comm.; van der Heiden and Johnson 2014, pp. 7, 19). The 
hammocks where T. p. ssp. floridanum has been found are also surrounded 
by a mosaic of wetlands dominated by Taxodium distichum (cypress 
trees). Recent field surveys recorded 18 canopy species in Rocky 
Hammock and 12 in Tree Frog Hammock (van der Heiden and Johnson 2014, 
p. 19), both located in Sumter County. The average canopy closure for 
both populations in Sumter County has been estimated to be more than 75 
percent, where it is heavily shaded, maintaining high humidity to 
reduce chances of desiccation (van der Heiden and Johnson 2014, p. 9). 
Van der Heiden and Johnson (2014, p. 9) speculate this dense, closed 
canopy can serve as a shield for T. p. ssp. floridanum to inhibit the 
growth of other plant species on the same part of an inhabited rock 
area.
    Habitat differences between Miami-Dade and Sumter Counties have 
enabled this subspecies to adapt to very different conditions at each 
location. In Miami-Dade, where Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum 
currently is found, the mean maximum temperature from the last 10 years 
(2004-2013) was 29.0 [deg]C (84.3[deg]F), and the mean minimum 
temperature for the same time period was 21.4 [deg]C (70.5[deg]F) 
(http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov). In contrast, yearly mean temperatures were 
lower

[[Page 61141]]

for Sumter County with 23.4 [deg]C (74.2[deg]F) recorded as the maximum 
temperature for the last 10 years (2004-2013), and 11.8 [deg]C 
(53.2[deg]F) as the minimum temperature for the same time period 
(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2014, http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov). Although it is believed this subspecies needs high 
temperatures and humidity, along with dense canopy, the exact 
thresholds for these variables have yet to be determined.
Historical Range/Distribution
    The historical range of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum 
included southern (Miami-Dade County; see Table 1, below) and central 
(Sumter County; see Table 2, below) Florida.

Miami-Dade County

    In Miami-Dade, the range of this subspecies extended from Royal 
Palm Hammock (now in Everglades National Park (ENP)) at its southern 
limit, northeast to Snapper Creek Hammock, which is located in R. Hardy 
Matheson Preserve (derived from Gann et al. 2002, pp. 552-554), a range 
of at least 45 square kilometers (km\2\) (17 square miles (mi\2\)). 
Plants in Miami-Dade were known to historically occur in at least 11 
hammocks: Deering-Snapper Creek Hammock, Castellow Hammock, Silver Palm 
Hammock (also known as Caldwell), Ross Hammock, Royal Palm Hammock (in 
ENP), Hattie Bauer Hammock, Shields Hammock, Nixon-Lewis Hammock, Fuchs 
Hammock, Addison Hammock (in the Deering Estate at Cutler), and 
Matheson Hammock. In the 1980s, T. p. ssp. floridanum was also 
documented in Meissner Hammock and Cox Hammock (now part of the tourist 
attraction ``Monkey Jungle'') (Small 1918, p. 6; Small 1921, p. 211; 
Morton 1963 p. 90; Fairchild Tropical Garden 1968, p. 1; Nauman 1986 p. 
182; Gann et al. 2002, pp. 552-554; Gann 2013, http://regionalconservation.org/ircs/database/plants/IRCSpAccount.asp?TXCODE=Tricpuncflor&GENUS=Trichomanes&SPECIES=punctatum&Author=Poir.&INFRA1=subsp.&INFRA1NAME=ssp. 
floridanum&INFRA1AUTHOR=Wess.%20Boer&CommonNames=Florida%20bristle%20fer
n).
    After the initial finding of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum 
in 1901, at Deering-Snapper Creek, J.K. Small made subsequent 
collections of the subspecies in and around Miami-Dade County including 
one in 1903, probably located in or near present-day Castellow Hammock 
(Gann 2014d, pers. comm.). Additional collections were obtained in 
1903, in Castellow Hammock by A.A. Eaton with more recent observations 
by G. Gann and K. Bradley in the late 1990s (Bradley and Gann 1999), 
and J. Possley and others (Gann et al. 2002, pp. 552-554; Possley et 
al. 2013, pp. 43-45). T. p. ssp. floridanum was collected in Silver 
Palm Hammock in 1903, by A.A. Eaton and later reported again in 1980; 
however, this report was not confirmed. The fern was collected from 
Ross Hammock by J.K. Small and colleagues in 1906. Since then, part of 
this hammock has been destroyed, and what remains is currently 
protected as a Miami-Dade Conservation Area. In 1909, the subspecies 
was collected in Royal Palm Hammock (also known as Paradise Key), now 
within ENP, and later reported by W.E. Stafford in 1917 (Stafford 1919, 
p. 386; Gann et al. 2002, pp. 552-554).
    Several collections of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum were 
made in Miami-Dade in 1915, including: Hattie Bauer Hammock, Shields 
Hammock, Nixon-Lewis Hammock, Fuchs Hammock, and Deering-Snapper Creek 
Hammock. Hattie Bauer Hammock, now a Miami-Dade County conservation 
area, has numerous subsequent collection records by Small (1915, 1916), 
Correll (1936), and McFarlin (1934, 1940) as cited by Gann 2013, http://regionalconservation.org/ircs/database/plants/IRCSpAccount.asp?TXCODE=Tricpuncflor&GENUS=Trichomanes&SPECIES=punctatum&Author=Poir.&INFRA1=subsp.&INFRA1NAME=ssp. 
floridanum&INFRA1AUTHOR=Wess.%20Boer&CommonNames=Florida%20bristle%20fer
n. The last known collection in Hattie Bauer Hammock was recorded in 
1960, by T. Darling, Jr., and subsequently reported as extirpated by 
Gann et al. (2002, pp. 552-554), until it was rediscovered in this 
hammock in 2011 by Possley (et al. 2013, pp. 1-2). Shields Hammock was 
destroyed prior to 1991 (Cressler 1991, Handwritten Notes). Fuchs 
Hammock is now part of the Fuchs Hammock Preserve (Gann et al. 2002, 
pp. 552-554) and was vouchered (pressed plant samples taken for future 
reference) again in 1954, by L. J. Brass; in 1959, by T. Darling Jr.; 
and in 1969, by F.C. Craighead (The Institute for Regional 
Conservation, Herbarium Specimens, Floristic Inventory of South Florida 
Database, September 12, 2007). Fuchs Hammock was also vouchered in 
1993, following Hurricane Andrew (1992) by A. Cressler (Cressler 12 
February 1993, handwritten notes,), and more recently observed by 
Possley and others over the years (Gann et al. 2002, pp. 552-554; 
Possley et al. 2013, pp. 43-45). T. p. ssp. floridanum was observed by 
G. N. Avery in 1983, in Meissner Hammock (immediately adjacent to Fuchs 
Hammock) and was since vouchered by K. Bradley in 1997 and 2002, and 
also observed by others (Gann et al. 2002, pp. 552-554; Possley et al. 
2013, pp. 43-45).
    In 1916, J.K. Small reported Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum 
in Addison Hammock, now located within Deering Estate at Cutler, 
currently Miami-Dade County Park; however, these reports were never 
vouchered (J.K. Small 1916; Gann et al. 2002, pp. 552-554). Surveys in 
recent years have yet to find any populations of T. p. ssp. floridanum 
in Deering Estate at Cutler, Matheson Hammock, or Silver Palm Hammock 
(Possley 2013j, pers. comm.). The subspecies was last reported from Cox 
Hammock in 1989, by A. Cressler, where plants were observed in a 
sinkhole in the tourist attraction, ``Monkey Jungle'' (Cressler 1991, 
handwritten notes); it is not known if these plants still exist. Cox 
Hammock is located about 1.6 km (1.0 mi) northeast of Castellow Hammock 
Park. Additional hammocks existing today where the taxon formerly 
occurred include Ross and Royal Palm Hammock (in ENP) and Deering-
Snapper Creek Hammock. A section of Deering-Snapper Creek Hammock was 
destroyed in 1912-1913, when the Snapper Creek Canal was constructed; 
dredging of this canal drastically altered the water table in the area, 
depleting the freshwater springs, while a large spoil berm from 
excavation of the canal destroyed existing habitat (Metro-Dade County 
Park and Recreation Department 1991, p. 10). Other hammocks in the 
historical range that are presumed destroyed include Nixon Lewis 
Hammock, which is partially destroyed (Gann 2013, http://regionalconservation.org/ircs/database/plants/IRCSpAccount.asp?TXCODE=Tricpuncflor&GENUS=Trichomanes&SPECIES=punctatum&Author=Poir.&INFRA1=subsp.&INFRA1NAME=ssp. 
floridanum&INFRA1AUTHOR=Wess.%20Boer&CommonNames=Florida%20bristle%20fer
n) and a station presumably near the Matheson Hammock Park vouchered by 
G. Peterson in 1940.

[[Page 61142]]



   Table 1--Summary of Historical Reports, Population Locations, and Current Population and Hammock Status of Trichomanes Punctatum ssp. Floridanum in
                                                             Miami-Dade County, Where Known
   [Gann et al. 2002; The Institute for Regional Conservation, Herbarium Specimens, Floristic Inventory of South Florida Database, September 12, 2007;
 Florida Natural Areas Inventory element occurrences 9/12/2013; Possley 2013c, j-k, 2014a-c; Possley 2013, 2014 pers. comm.; Gann 2013, pers. comm.; van
            der Heiden 2013e, pers. comm.; Gann 2014a-f, pers. comm.; Gann et al. 2014, http://regionalconservation.org/ircs/database/plants/PlantPage.asp?TXCODE=Tricpuncflor]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Year(s)
                                                                 of                              Number of     Current population      Current hammock
                No.                   Population location     initial          Observer          specimens           status                status
                                                             report(s)                           collected
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.................................  Deering-Snapper Creek         1901  J.K. Small, G.V. Nash            3   Extirpated...........  Protected Area,
                                     Hammock (in R. Hardy         1915  J.K. Small, C.A.                 1                           Partially
                                     Matheson Preserve).                 Mosier.                                                     Destroyed.
2.................................  Castellow Hammock......       1903  J.K. Small, J.J.                 2   Extant...............  Protected Area.
                                                                  1903   Carter.                         4
                                                                        A.A. Eaton...........
3.................................  Silver Palm Hammock....       1903  A.A. Eaton...........            1   Extirpated...........  Protected Area.
4.................................  Ross Hammock...........       1906  J.K. Small, J.J.                 2   Extirpated...........  Protected Area,
                                                                         Carter.                                                     Partially
                                                                                                                                     Destroyed.
5.................................  Royal Palm Hammock            1909  J.K. Small, J.J.                 2   Extirpated...........  Protected Area.
                                     (ENP); aka Paradise          1917   Carter.                      None
                                     Key.                               W.E. Stafford........
6.................................  Hattie Bauer Hammock          1915  J.K. Small, C.A.                 2   Extant...............  Protected Area.
                                     (Orchid Jungle).             1915   Mosier.                         3
                                                                        J.K. Small...........
                                                                  1915  J.K. Small, C.A.                 5
                                                                         Mosier, G.K. Small.
                                                                  1916  J.K. Small...........            1
                                                                  1934  J.B. McFarlin........            2
                                                                  1936  D.S. Correll.........            2
                                                                  1940  J.B. McFarlin........            1
                                                                  1960  T. Darling Jr........            1
7.................................  Shields Hammock........       1915  J.K. Small, C.A.                 1   Extirpated...........  Destroyed.
                                                                         Mosier, G.K. Small.
8.................................  Nixon-Lewis Hammock....       1915  J.K. Small, C.A.                 1   Extirpated...........  Protected Area,
                                                                         Mosier.                                                     Partially
                                                                                                                                     Destroyed.
9.................................  Fuchs Hammock (Sykes          1915  J.K. Small, C.A.                 1   Extant...............  Protected Area.
                                     Hammock).                    1954   Mosier.                         1
                                                                        L.J. Brass...........
                                                                  1959  T. Darling Jr........            1
                                                                  1969  A.F. Clewell, F.C.               1
                                                                         Craighead.
10................................  Addison Hammock               1916  J.K. Small...........         None   Unknown \1\..........  Protected Area.
                                     (Deering Estate at
                                     Cutler).
11................................  Matheson Hammock Park..       1940  G. Peterson..........            2   Unknown \2\..........  Protected Area.
12................................  Meissner Hammock.......       1983  G.N. Avery...........         None   Extant...............  Protected Area.
13................................  Cox Hammock (Monkey           1989  A. Cressler..........         None   Unknown \3\..........  Privately Owned,
                                     Jungle).                                                                                        Partially
                                                                                                                                     Destroyed.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Initial report is questionable.
\2\ Precise location of sample and associated report is questionable.
\3\ It is not known whether the species still occurs here.

Sumter County

    In Sumter County, early collections and herbarium label data for 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum are not accurate or precise in 
their location descriptions. The first documented collection in 1936, 
by R.P. St. John, simply states that T. p. ssp. floridanum was found 
11.26 km (7.0 mi) east of Floral City. This collection is close to the 
extant populations in Sumter (in Rocky Hammock within Withlacoochee 
State Forest), which is east-southeast of Floral City, and is thought 
to be the location where T. p. ssp. floridanum existed on private land 
until it was cleared for cattle sometime after 1983. A specimen found 3 
years later by J.B. McFarlin in 1939 was originally thought to be T. 
sphenoides; the herbarium label data described this collection as 
``South of Floral City, Florida. T. sphenoides is a misapplied synonym 
for T. p. ssp. floridanum according to FNAI. This is the only known 
station in the United States.'' It is believed that these label data 
may have been incorrectly recorded, indicating a direction of south 
from Floral City, when it should have been east. In all likelihood, 
McFarlin's collection probably referred to the population in the Wahoo 
area, where St. John previously collected because he states his 
collection was from the same locality where it was originally found in 
1936. The specimen found by McFarlin eventually led to reports of the 
taxon in Citrus County (Wherry 1964, p. 232; Nelson 2000, p. 81); 
however, this was never confirmed beyond the initial report. Systematic 
surveys have not been conducted in Citrus County; therefore, the only 
documented occurrences of T. p. ssp. floridanum in this region of 
Florida have been in Sumter County, just north of Wahoo and east of the 
Withlacoochee River.
    Several years later, in 1954, R. Garrett collected Trichomanes 
punctatum ssp. floridanum southeast of Floral City. It is thought to be 
the same location where St. John and McFarlin made their previous 
collections; however, label data were again minimal and the exact 
location is uncertain. In 1959, T. Darling Jr. found this subspecies 
near Floral City, 11.26 km (7.0 mi) south near a location called Battle 
Slough. This record has never been confirmed because it is located on 
private property. Another specimen was found in 1963, by O. Lakela in 
an area known as Indian Field Ledges. Lakela recorded his location and 
collection to be west of Withlacoochee River off State Road #48. This 
information is believed to be incorrect based on a site visit by 
Darling (1961, p. 7), stating that the Indian Field

[[Page 61143]]

Ledges is north of Wahoo, a locality east of the Withlacoochee River. 
T. p. ssp. floridanum was not found again in Sumter County until 1983, 
when S.W. Leonard made a collection on private property known as Rocky 
Point, north of Wahoo. This is presumed to be the same location where 
St. John, McFarlin, and Garrett collected their specimens, which is now 
extirpated.

   Table 2--Summary of Historical Reports, Population Locations, and Current Population and Hammock Status of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum in
                                                               Sumter County, Where Known
   [Gann et al. 2002; The Institute for Regional Conservation, Herbarium Specimens, Floristic Inventory of South Florida Database, September 12, 2007;
           Florida Natural Areas Inventory Element Occurrences 9/12/2013; van der Heiden 2013d, 2014a, pers. comm.; Gann et al. 2014, http://regionalconservation.org/ircs/database/plants/PlantPage.asp?TXCODE=Tricpuncflor]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Year of                            Number of
                No.                   Population location     initial          Observer          specimens     Current population      Current hammock
                                                               report                            collected           status                status
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.................................  11.26 km (7 mi) East of       1936  R.P. St. John........            1   Presumed Extirpated..  Privately Owned,
                                     Floral City \1\.                                                                                Presumed Destroyed.
2.................................  Floral City Area \1\...       1939  J.B. McFarlin........            1   Unknown \2\..........  Unknown.
3.................................  Southeast of Floral           1954  R. Garret............            1   Presumed Extirpated..  Privately Owned,
                                     City \1\.                                                                                       Presumed Destroyed.
4.................................  Floral City, 11.26 km         1959  T. Darling Jr........            1   Unknown \2\..........  Privately Owned,
                                     (7 mi) south (Battle                                                                            Unknown.
                                     Slough) \1\.
5.................................  East of Withlacoochee         1963  O. Lakela............            1   Extirpated...........  Protected Area.
                                     River, off State Road
                                     #48 (Indian Field
                                     Ledges) \1\.
6.................................  Rocky Point, (north of        1983  S.W. Leonard.........            1   Extirpated...........  Privately Owned,
                                     Wahoo).                                                                                         Destroyed.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Sumter County collections and herbarium label data for Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum are inaccurate in location descriptions.
\2\ Initial report is questionable.

Current Range
    The extant metapopulation of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum 
in Miami-Dade County is approximately 400 km (249 mi) south of the 
extant metapopulation in Sumter County. Both metapopulations of T. p. 
ssp. floridanum are located entirely on public lands (see Table 3, 
below).

Miami-Dade County

    The four populations that constitute the Miami-Dade County 
metapopulation are located in urban preserves managed by the County's 
Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) Program (see Factor A, 
Conservation Efforts to Reduce Habitat Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Range, below). These EEL properties include: 
Castellow Hammock Park (39.5 hectares (ha)) (97.6 acres (ac)), Hattie 
Bauer Hammock (5.7 ha (14.0 ac)), Fuchs Hammock Preserve (15.7 ha (38.8 
ac)), and Meissner Hammock (4.1 ha (10.1 ac)). Three of these preserves 
(76 percent of the land area) are owned by the County; the fourth, 
Meissner Hammock (24 percent), is owned by the State and leased to the 
County (Dozier 2014, pers. comm.). The subpopulations in Fuchs Hammock 
include a new population that was found in July 2013 (Possley et al. 
2013, pp. 43-45). Fuchs and Meissner Hammocks are immediately adjacent 
to each other, and Castellow Hammock Park is 10.5 km (6.5 mi) to the 
northeast. During 2011, another population was re-discovered at Hattie 
Bauer Hammock (8 ha (20 ac)) (Possley et al. 2013, pp. 43-45). Hattie 
Bauer Hammock is 4.02 km (2.5 mi) south of Castellow Hammock and 
approximately 8.05 km (5 mi) northeast of Fuchs and Meissner Hammocks. 
In general, Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum occurs in small areas 
within each hammock.
    No comprehensive survey has been conducted in rockland hammocks in 
Miami-Dade County where suitable Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum 
habitat has been identified. Although these areas have been extensively 
explored by numerous botanists and plant enthusiasts, including sites 
where the subspecies was formerly found, due to the cryptic nature of 
this plant it may have been overlooked and new occurrences may yet be 
discovered (Possley 2013f, pers. comm.; van der Heiden 2013c, pers. 
comm.). Surveys conducted in the late 1990s, and as late as 2010, did 
not find T. p. ssp. floridanum in Silver Palm Hammock (Gann et al. 
2002, pp. 552-554; Possley 2013g, pers. comm.). A plant sample was 
collected in Nixon-Lewis Hammock by Small and Mosier in 1915; however, 
due to extensive disturbance of this hammock, subsequent surveys 
conducted in 2006, by IRC, could not find the taxon (Bradley and Gann 
2005, unpublished data). Over the years, IRC has completed systematic 
surveys in ENP in Royal Palm Hammock and other hammocks on Long Pine 
Key; however, plants have not been found there (Gann et al. 2009; pp. 
1-66). In 2003, based on historical records, staff from ENP and IRC 
surveyed Royal Palm Hammock for T. p. ssp. floridanum without success; 
subsequent surveys conducted in rockland hammocks throughout Long Pine 
Key (in ENP) for other rare plants were also not successful in finding 
T. p. ssp. floridanum (Sadle 2013, pers. comm.).

Sumter County

    The Sumter County metapopulation consists of two extant populations 
of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum that have been reported north 
of Wahoo, in the Withlacoochee State Forest's Jumper Creek Tract; these 
populations are located in Rocky Hammock (located on 44 boulders) and 
Tree Frog Hammock (located on 4 boulders) (van der Heiden and Johnson 
2014, p. 7). The population in Tree Frog Hammock was discovered as 
recently as April 2013, during regional surveys (van der Heiden 2013c, 
pers. comm.). Two additional populations were known from private land 
just south of the State Forest; however, these populations were 
subsequently extirpated due to the clearing of land for agriculture by 
the property owner (van der Heiden 2013c, pers. comm.).
    Recent GIS analyses show the soil type associated with known extant 
occurrences of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum in the northern 
metapopulation to be Okeelanta Muck, Frequently Flooded; this soil 
covers

[[Page 61144]]

approximately 1,478 ha (3,652 ac) in Sumter County. However, not all of 
these areas have been systematically surveyed. Although surveys 
conducted of a boulder field within Withlacoochee State Forest's Jumper 
Creek Tract (called the Indian Field Ledges) in August 2007 and April 
2013 were unsuccessful (van der Heiden 2013c, pers. comm.), the 
discovery of new populations may be possible in the area. Indeed, the 
population of this subspecies in Jumper Creek's Tree Frog Hammock is a 
new population that was discovered in April 2013, during additional 
hammock surveys within Withlacoochee State Forest and the surrounding 
area (van der Heiden 2013c, pers. comm.).
    It is also possible that other subpopulations may exist in Sumter 
County. Indian Ledges, a hammock located on private land near Jumper 
Creek (not to be confused with Indian Field Ledges), just north of 
Wahoo, is believed to be suitable for Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum, including a dense canopy and appropriate soil (Deangelis 
2014a-b, pers. comm.). Over the years, many rare ferns and orchids have 
been observed in the Indian Ledges Hammock; unfortunately, this hammock 
was heavily damaged by hurricanes in 2004 (Deangelis 2014a, pers. 
comm.).
    Portions of the Southwest Florida Water Management District 
(SWFWMD) property within the Green Swamp more than 40.23 km (25 miles) 
southeast of the Jumper Creek Tract in Withlacoochee State Forest (WSF) 
may also contain appropriate habitat for Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum based on existing habitat features such as dense canopy, 
high humidity microclimates, mesic hammock, and limestone outcroppings 
(Elliott 2014, pers. comm.). The SWFWMD property within the Green Swamp 
is the only area where land alteration has not occurred in Sumter 
County (11,343 ha (28,030 ac)). Portions of Green Swamp owned by the 
SWFWMD also extend into three other counties: Lake, Polk, and Pasco. 
Future survey efforts coordinating with local land owners and 
conservation organizations in this area may prove successful in finding 
new populations of T. p. ssp. floridanum.

  Table 3--Summary of Known Extant Occurrences of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum. (Possley 2013, p. 1-2;
                      Dozier 2014, pers. comm.; van der Heiden and Johnson 2014, pp. 1-3).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                  Number of
 Metapopulation location (County)   Population location     Land ownership     subpopulations        Status
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Miami-Dade.......................  Meissner Hammock....  State..............                 2  Extant.
Miami-Dade.......................  Fuchs...............  County.............                 4  Extant.
Miami-Dade.......................  Castellow...........  County.............                 3  Extant.
Miami-Dade.......................  Hattie Bauer........  County.............                 1  Extant.
Sumter...........................  Rocky Hammock,        State..............                 1  Extant.
                                    Withlacoochee State
                                    Forest's Jumper
                                    Creek Tract.
Sumter...........................  Tree Frog Hammock,    State..............                 1  Extant.
                                    Withlacoochee State
                                    Forest's Jumper
                                    Creek Tract.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Population Estimates and Status
    Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum grows in dense mats and is 
rhizomatous (a horizontal stem that often sends out roots and shoots 
from its nodes). Fronds are scattered in matted clusters along the 
stems, making it difficult to count clusters, or groups of plants in 
the same location, and nearly impossible to accurately count individual 
plants (Nelson 2000, p. 79). This issue has been encountered in other 
Trichomanes species, such as Trichomanes boschianum (Appalachian 
bristle fern) (Hill 2003, p. 11). As such, populations are typically 
described by the number of clusters (i.e., groups of plants in various 
sinkholes, on tree roots, on boulders) and the total area covered by 
the cluster.

Miami-Dade County

    In Miami-Dade County, there are four populations of the fern with a 
total of 10 subpopulations (i.e., nine solution holes and one rocky 
outcropping). Overall, this taxon occurs in small areas (i.e., less 
than 0.5 ha (1.2 ac)) at each site, with 88 percent of the total area 
in three subpopulations in Castellow Hammock. Recent surveys (see Table 
4, below) in Miami-Dade by Fairchild (Possley 2013 pp. 1-2) found the 
fern covering a total area of approximately 9.92 m\2\ (106.56 ft \2\) 
(Possley 2013, pp. 1-2).

 Table 4--Area covered by each of 10 known subpopulations of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum in Miami-Dade
  County, October and November 2013 (Possley 2013, pp. 1-2) and in Sumter County, December 2013 (van der Heiden
                                          and Johnson 2014, pp. 7, 14)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                              Estimated area        Number of
         Metapopulation                Population         Subpopulation       covered (m\2\)        clusters
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Miami-Dade......................  Hattie Bauer         Hole (no tag)......  0.078.............              2-10
                                   Hammock.
Miami-Dade......................  Fuchs Hammock......  Hole 532...........  0.017.............              2-10
Miami-Dade......................  Fuchs Hammock......  Hole 533...........  0.038.............              2-10
Miami-Dade......................  Fuchs Hammock......  Hole 1431..........  0.128.............              2-10
Miami-Dade......................  Fuchs Hammock......  Root 1430..........  0.047.............                 1
Miami-Dade......................  Meissner Hammock...  Hole 2319..........  0.145.............              2-10
Miami-Dade......................  Meissner Hammock...  Hole 3337..........  0.713.............              2-10
Miami-Dade......................  Castellow Hammock..  Hole 2332..........  4.688.............            11-100
Miami-Dade......................  Castellow Hammock..  Hole 2331..........  3.925.............            11-100
Miami-Dade......................  Castellow Hammock..  Hole 944...........  0.141.............              2-10
    Miami-Dade County Total.....  ...................  ...................  9.920 m\2\........  ................
Sumter..........................  Rocky Hammock......  N/A................  4.355.............                44
Sumter..........................  Tree Frog Hammock..  N/A................  0.132.............                 4

[[Page 61145]]

 
    Sumter County Total.........  ...................  ...................  4.487 m\2\........  ................
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total Area Covered..........  ...................  ...................  14.407 m\2\.......  ................
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The largest known population of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum in Miami-Dade County is located at Castellow Hammock 
(Possley et al. 2013, p. 43), where it occurs in three of the larger 
subpopulations. In October of 2011, field surveys revealed extensive 
desiccation of this population after intensive nonnative vegetation 
removal (Possley 2013h, pers. comm.); however, by November 2013, these 
plants had recovered, and the total area covered by all clusters (i.e., 
two or more plants next to each other) was estimated at 8.754 m\2\ 
(94.227 ft\2\). Meissner Hammock has two subpopulations; the clusters 
in this hammock cover an area of 0.858 m\2\ (9.235 ft\2\) and are 
considered healthy, with no signs of desiccation (Possley et al. 2013, 
pp. 43-45). There is one subpopulation in Hattie Bauer Hammock covering 
approximately 0.78 m\2\ (8.4 ft\2\) and three subpopulations of T. p. 
ssp. floridanum at Fuchs Hammock, with an additional one that was 
discovered in July 2013, totaling an area of 0.230 m\2\ (2.476 ft\2\) 
(Possley 2013, pp. 1-2; Possley et al. 2013, pp. 43-45).

Sumter County

    In Sumter County, the Rocky Hammock subpopulation contains 44 
clusters, while the newly discovered subpopulation (Tree Frog Hammock) 
is much smaller with only 4 clusters observed (van der Heiden and 
Johnson 2014, p. 7). Average cluster size for Rocky Hammock is 
estimated at 4.355 m\2\ (46.877 ft\2\) and 0.132 m\2\ (1.421 ft\2\) for 
Tree Frog Hammock.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and its implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR part 424, set forth the procedures for adding 
species to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and 
Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, we may list a species based 
on one or more of the following five factors: (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; or (E) other natural or manmade factors 
affecting its continued existence. Listing actions may be warranted 
based on any of the above threat factors, singly or in combination. 
Each of these factors as applied to Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum is discussed below.
    Information pertaining to Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum in 
relation to the five factors provided in section 4(a)(1) of the Act is 
discussed below. In considering what factors might constitute threats, 
we must look beyond the mere exposure of the species to the factor to 
determine whether the species responds to the factor in a way that 
causes actual impacts to the species. If there is exposure to a factor, 
but no response, or only a positive response, that factor is not a 
threat. If there is exposure and the species responds negatively, the 
factor may be a threat, and we then attempt to determine if that factor 
rises to the level of a threat, meaning that it may drive or contribute 
to the risk of extinction of the species such that the species warrants 
listing as an endangered or threatened species as those terms are 
defined by the Act. This does not necessarily require empirical proof 
of a threat. The combination of exposure and some corroborating 
evidence of how the species is likely impacted could suffice. The mere 
identification of factors that could impact a species negatively is not 
sufficient to compel a finding that listing is appropriate; we require 
evidence that these factors are operative threats that act on the 
species to the point that the species meets the definition of an 
endangered or threatened species under the Act.

Factor A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range

    Habitat modification and destruction, caused by human population 
growth and development, agricultural conversion, regional drainage, and 
canal installation, have impacted the range and abundance of 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum. Secondary effects from hydrology 
and canopy changes have resulted in changes in humidity, temperature, 
and existing water levels; loss of natural vegetation; and habitat 
fragmentation. The modification and destruction of habitat where T. p. 
ssp. floridanum was once found have been extreme in most areas of 
Miami-Dade County; while they have been less dramatic in Sumter County, 
clearing of land for agricultural conversion and historical logging has 
resulted in very few areas where the habitat has not been modified. 
These threats are discussed in detail below.
Human Population Growth, Development, and Agricultural Conversion
    Miami-Dade County-Rockland hammocks are considered imperiled both 
locally and globally, with a limited distribution and an FNAI ranking 
of G2 (imperiled globally because of rarity (6 to 20 occurrences or 
fewer than 3,000 individuals) or because of vulnerability to extinction 
due to some natural or manmade factor))/S2 (either very rare and local 
in Florida (21-100 occurrences or fewer than 10,000 individuals) or 
found locally in a restricted range or vulnerable to extinction from 
other factors)) (FNAI 2010, pp. 24-26, FNAI 2013, http://www.fnai.org/PDF/NC/Rockland_Hammock_Final_2010.pdf). The tremendous development and 
agricultural pressures in the rapidly urbanizing rockland hammock areas 
in south Florida have resulted in significant reductions of this 
habitat type, which is also susceptible to fire, frost, canopy 
disruption, and groundwater reduction (FNAI 2010, pp. 24-26).
    Extensive land clearing for human population growth and development 
in Miami-Dade County has altered, degraded, or destroyed hundreds of 
acres of this once abundant rockland hammock ecosystem. Rockland 
hammocks once occurred across the Miami-Rock Ridge, usually in 
association with pine rocklands, or the edges of marl prairies (areas 
of thin,

[[Page 61146]]

calcitic soil that has accumulated over limestone bedrock) or tidal 
swamps (Service 1999, p. 122). Destruction of rocklands, including 
rockland hammocks, has occurred since the beginning of the 1900s. 
Historical impacts to the environment were addressed by Small (1938, p. 
50), who called attention to the demise of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum from habitat destruction, and Phillips (1940, p. 167) who 
expressed his concern for south Florida hammocks due to the obvious and 
vast amount of destruction of land in the region. Early settlers in 
Florida cleared hammocks for residential development, farming, and 
range for livestock, while industrial logging also occurred in the 
region (Snyder et al. 1990, pp. 271-272). Consistent burning of 
pinelands in Miami-Dade also encroached upon adjacent hammocks, as in 
the case of Castellow Hammock (Phillips 1940, p. 167). Habitat impacts 
were further exacerbated by natural stochastic events, such as the 
hurricane in 1935 that destroyed Ross Hammock (Phillips 1940, p. 167).
    Rockland hammock habitat is now limited to public conservation 
lands where future development and habitat alteration are less likely 
than on private lands. However, these lands could be sold off in the 
future and become more likely to be developed or altered in a way that 
negatively impacts the subspecies and its habitat. Additionally, 
rockland hammock may be found on private lands; however, the fate of 
this existing habitat is unknown, as it is dependent upon actions of 
individual property owners (see discussion under Factor D).
    Due to the possibility that additional populations of Trichomanes 
punctatum ssp. floridanum may be found on private property and could be 
destroyed, and the fact that there are no guarantees that the limited 
rockland hammock habitat will remain as public conservation land in 
perpetuity, habitat loss due to population growth, development, and 
agricultural conversion poses a threat to this subspecies in Miami-Dade 
County.
    Sumter County--In Sumter County, human population growth and 
development has occurred, but to a lesser degree than in Miami-Dade 
County; however, Sumter County has a long history of agriculture dating 
back to the early 1860s. Generally speaking, all land that was feasible 
for agriculture was cleared at some point. In particular, mesic 
hammocks where Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum occurs have 
experienced disturbances from human activities such as logging, 
understory clearing, cattle grazing, and introduction of feral hogs. 
These natural mesic canopies and soils have largely been destroyed due 
to their desirable locations for living, camping, and recreating. The 
global and State rank for mesic hammock habitat (G3/S3) signifies it is 
considered to have a restricted range or be vulnerable to extinction 
from other factors (FNAI 2010, p. 22).
    Concerns exist regarding future population growth and development 
in those communities remaining in Sumter County and on lands where 
urbanization and agriculture have not yet been established. According 
to the Sumter County Comprehensive Plan, a growth management paradigm 
has been developed that focuses public resources on urban areas to 
protect existing undeveloped land for agricultural use (Sumter County 
2012, Data and Analysis section). Currently, the threat with greatest 
impact to T. p. ssp. floridanum habitat in Sumter County is the 
potential for agricultural and residential clearing of mesic hammocks 
on small, fragmented private parcels and in existing conservation 
areas.
    Privately owned land in the area around Wahoo where Trichomanes 
punctatum ssp. floridanum is found has been zoned as ``agricultural'' 
on the Sumter County Future Land Use Map (Sumter County 2012, p. 42). 
The County exempts single site residential development and agriculture 
from environmental review and does not regulate land clearing for a 
single residence. Therefore, any undocumented populations and suitable 
habitat on private lands are at risk due to land-clearing activities, 
agricultural conversions, and development. For example, one Sumter 
County subpopulation observed in 1999 on private land was extirpated 
due to pasture clearing on the property for livestock (van der Heiden 
2013c, pers. comm.). Although undeveloped land is more abundant in 
Sumter County than in Miami-Dade County, the fact that no virgin land 
remains within Sumter County may reduce the likelihood of new 
populations being discovered (Farnsworth 2013, pers. comm.). A full 
survey for T. p. ssp. floridanum and associated suitable habitat is 
needed in Sumter County to determine the severity of potential habitat 
loss on this subspecies regionally, including the potential impact from 
future human population growth and development.
    Due to existing agricultural and residential clearing of mesic 
hammocks and potential future clearing on private lands and within 
existing conservation areas, habitat loss due to human population 
growth, development, and agricultural conversion poses a threat to T. 
p. ssp. floridanum in Sumter County.
Regional Drainage and Consumptive Use
    Miami-Dade County--Landscape-level drainage has been extensive in 
Miami-Dade County. In the early 1900s, drainage initiatives were 
undertaken to modify land for agriculture and development; impacts 
resulted in a region-wide drop in the water table (Nauman 1986, p. 182; 
Lodge 2005, p. 222), disturbing rockland hammocks and their flora 
(Service 1999, pp. 3-138), including Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum. Additional stress from regional drainage for canal 
construction has also contributed to the extirpation and decline of 
this metapopulation (Nauman 1986, p. 182; see also ``Historical Range/
Distribution'', Miami-Dade County section, above). As a consequence of 
the pervasive drainage throughout Miami-Dade County, solution holes, 
which often contained standing water during the rainy season, now hold 
much less, if any, water during much of the year, resulting in 
decreased ambient humidity levels (Phillips 1940, p. 171; Nauman 1986, 
p. 182; Adimey 2013a, field notes). Even though regional changes in 
hydrology have not caused extirpation of T. p. ssp. floridanum at most 
locations, they may have already induced stress by promoting 
vulnerability to other stressors, such as periodic long-term droughts, 
cold weather exposure, and other stochastic events. Furthermore, 
groundwater levels in the vicinity of T. p ssp. floridanum are not 
targeted as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan 
(CERP) (a framework and guide to restore, protect, and preserve the 
water resources of central and southern Florida, including the 
Everglades), and, therefore, impacts from regional drainage are not 
expected to be ameliorated by CERP. Rockland hammocks in Miami-Dade 
County have been modified as a result of hydrology changes, reducing 
the amount of water available to these habitats. This is an ongoing 
threat for T. p. ssp. floridanum, as hammocks on limestone substrates 
are dependent on the underlying water table to keep humidity levels 
high, especially in limestone sinkholes (Service 1999, pp. 3-127).
    Currently, the human population in Miami-Dade County is expected to 
grow to more than 4 million by 2060, an annual increase of roughly 
30,000 people (Zwick and Carr 2006, p. 20). Although water demands will 
continue to rise with population increases, the extent of future 
impacts on existing

[[Page 61147]]

habitat and the metapopulation of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum 
in Miami-Dade County is unknown at this time.
    Sumter County--In Sumter County, water drawdowns have historically 
been minimal; regional modeling conducted by SWFWMD indicates less than 
a 0.06-m (0.2-ft) current use of water in the Upper Floridan Aquifer 
(Deangelis 2014a, 2014c, pers. comm.). No surface water withdrawals are 
currently occurring in Sumter County; however, it is possible in the 
future. Minimum flows and levels (MFLs), which are water withdrawal 
standards to limit water use set the by regional Water Management 
Districts (WMDs), are already established for the Withlacoochee River 
portion of the Withlacoochee River watershed in Sumter County. Although 
increases in human population and development in Sumter County may 
increase water table use, it is believed changes due to drought 
conditions (e.g., on the order of several feet) will have a far greater 
impact on the hydrology (Deangelis 2013a, pers. comm.).
Hydrology
    Hydrology is a key ecosystem property that affects distribution and 
viability of rare plants (Gann et al. 2009, p. 6). Hydrology changes 
have extensively modified and, in some cases, destroyed habitat in 
south Florida. As a result of human population growth, development, 
agricultural conversion, and regional drainage, the hydrology of 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum habitat has changed drastically 
and has contributed to the alteration in ambient humidity and 
temperature.
    As a hygrophilous (living or growing in damp places) subspecies 
thought to be restricted to a consistent humid microhabitat 
(Kr[ouml]mer and Kessler 2006, p. 57), high humidity is a critical 
factor to its survival; any habitat modification or destruction that 
changes ambient humidity levels is believed to be a threat to this 
subspecies (Nauman 1986, p. 182). As noted above, drainage efforts 
implemented in south Florida have significantly reduced historical 
water table levels, altering ambient humidity in the area. It is 
speculated that this subspecies may be living in discrete areas where 
humidity may be at the threshold for T. p. ssp. floridanum to survive. 
Minor drops in ambient humidity may limit reproduction and can 
negatively impact overall health of existing metapopulations, as well 
as inhibit the growth of new plants, impacting long-term viability (van 
der Heiden, 2013c, pers. comm.; Possley 2013f, pers. comm.). Van der 
Heiden and Johnson (2013, p. 9) recently observed this in Sumter County 
where small drops in ambient temperature and humidity resulted in 
observed declines in the health of some clusters of T. p. ssp. 
floridanum within the local population.
Canopy Changes
    Canopy is also an important habitat feature for Trichomanes 
punctatum ssp. floridanum, and in most cases, is the primary factor 
controlling surrounding temperature and humidity levels that are 
critical to the survival of this subspecies The proper amount of high 
shade and low light is critical for the persistence of this subspecies; 
these features help to maintain humidity and avoid desiccation from 
excessive light exposure (van der Heiden 2013c, pers. comm.; Possley 
2013f, pers. comm.; Adimey 2013a-b, field notes). Currently, in both 
metapopulations, dense canopy cover is a necessity; however, the lower 
limits of canopy density needed to ensure survival are not yet known. 
Changes to existing canopies can result from land clearing and 
conversion, natural stochastic events, competition with nonnative 
species, and nonnative species control (see discussion under Factor E).
    Historically, as land was developed, natural features of the 
landscape changed, directly eliminating Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum and also eliminating surrounding vegetation and habitat 
features essential to this subspecies. Field observations in Miami-Dade 
County have found clusters of T. p. ssp. floridanum desiccated when the 
immediate canopy above the ferns was destroyed or substantially 
reduced, allowing high amounts of light into the understory (Possley 
2013h, pers. comm.); however, over the course of many months, these 
clusters eventually recovered.
    The loss of canopy can result in plant desiccation via increased 
sun and wind exposure, increased ambient temperatures, changes in 
ambient humidity, and the proliferation of exotic species (see Factor E 
discussion, below). Destruction or changes in canopy of any existing 
populations could result in elimination of an entire population. 
Therefore, canopy loss is believed to be a limiting factor for the 
future persistence of the subspecies and is therefore considered a 
threat to T. p. spp. floridanum.
Habitat Fragmentation
    Habitat fragmentation limits dispersal and population size, and 
promotes vulnerability among existing populations. In Miami-Dade 
County, most remaining Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum habitat 
(i.e., Fuchs, Meissner, Castellow, Hattie Bauer hammocks) is surrounded 
by housing development and agricultural land, resulting in scattered 
and small, fragmented natural areas. Regional drainage and hydrology 
changes may also have contributed to the fragmented habitat in Miami-
Dade County. In Sumter County, the impacts of habitat fragmentation are 
not as severe, as conservation lands are on large, adjacent tracts. 
Future development in Sumter County could result in an increase in 
fragmented habitat and pose a threat for this northern metapopulation 
(van der Heiden 2013c, pers. comm.). However, thorough knowledge of the 
impacts and subsequent consequences from habitat fragmentation is 
unknown for both metapopulations of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum because information and understanding of dispersal 
mechanisms for this subspecies is currently lacking. The best available 
data regarding the impacts of habitat fragmentation on other plant 
species suggests that habitat fragmentation is likely a stressor 
impacting this subspecies but does not indicate that it rises to the 
level of a threat.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Habitat Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Range
    Conservation efforts to reduce habitat destruction are generally 
focused on the conservation of land in which both metapopulations 
occur. All known extant populations occur on State- or County-owned 
land that is currently protected from future development. In Miami-Dade 
County, extant occurrences of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum 
have been protected through acquisition within the County's EEL Program 
(http://www.miamidade.gov/environment/endangered-lands.asp).

Fee Title Properties

    In 1990, Miami-Dade County voters approved a 2-year property tax to 
fund the acquisition, protection, and maintenance of natural areas by 
the EEL Program. The EEL Program purchases and manages natural lands 
for preservation. Land uses deemed incompatible with the protection of 
the natural resources are prohibited by current regulations; however, 
the County Commission ultimately controls what may happen with any 
County property, and land use changes may occur over time (Gil 2013b, 
pers. comm.). To date, the Miami-Dade

[[Page 61148]]

County EEL Program has acquired a total of approximately 95 ha (236 ac) 
of tropical hardwood and rockland hammocks (Gil 2013b, pers. comm.). 
The EEL Program also manages approximately 639 ha (1,578 ac) of 
tropical hardwood and rockland hammocks owned by the Miami-Dade County 
Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department, including some of the 
largest remaining areas of tropical hardwood and rockland hammocks 
(e.g., Matheson Hammock Park, Castellow Hammock Park, and Deering 
Estate Park and Preserves). A precursor to the EEL Program is the EEL 
Covenant Program, which regulates private lands for conservation 
through easements.

EEL Covenant Program

    In 1979, Miami-Dade County enacted the EEL Covenant Program, which 
reduces taxes for private landowners of natural forest communities 
(NFC) such as pine rocklands and rockland hammocks. Under the EEL 
Covenant Program, landowners agree not to develop their property and 
manage it for a period of 10 years, with the option to renew for 
additional 10-year periods (Service 1999, pp. 3-177). The EEL Covenant 
Program currently regulates approximately 119 rockland hammock 
properties, comprising approximately 315.65 ha (780 ac) of habitat 
(Joyner 2013b, pers. comm.).
    Although these temporary conservation easements provide valuable 
protection for their duration, they are not considered under Factor D, 
below, because they are voluntary agreements and not regulatory in 
nature. Miami-Dade County currently has approximately 21 rockland 
hammocks properties enrolled in this program, preserving 20.64 ha (51 
ac) of rockland hammock habitat (Joyner 2013b, pers. comm.). The vast 
majority of these properties are small, and many are in need of habitat 
management, such as removal of nonnative, invasive plants. Although the 
EEL Covenant Program has the potential to provide valuable habitat for 
unknown or future populations of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum, 
the actual contribution of these designated conservation lands is 
largely determined by whether individual landowners follow prescribed 
EEL management plans and NFC regulations (see ``Local'' under Factor D 
below).
    These County- and State-owned land areas are critical to protecting 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum, as well as other native flora in 
Florida. Conservation efforts to prevent the future extirpation of T. 
p. ssp. floridanum and other fern species in Miami's EEL Preserves have 
been underway for many years. In Miami-Dade County, conservation lands 
are and have been monitored by Fairchild and IRC, in coordination with 
the EEL Program, to assess habitat status and determine any changes 
that may pose a threat to or alter the abundance of T. p. ssp. 
floridanum (Possley 2013m, pers. comm.; van der Heiden 2013f-h, pers. 
comm.). Impacts to habitat (e.g., canopy) via nonnative species and 
natural stochastic events are monitored and actively managed in areas 
where the taxon is known to occur. These programs are long-term and 
ongoing in Miami-Dade County; however, programs are limited by the 
availability of annual funding.
    To date, only one reintroduction of filmy ferns (no specific 
species was indicated) was attempted by F.C. Craighead in the early 
1960s, in several hammocks within ENP within the Long Pine Key area; 
these efforts were unsuccessful without further explanation (Gann 2013, 
http://regionalconservation.org/ircs/database/plants/IRCSpAccount.asp?TXCODE=Tricpuncflor&GENUS=Trichomanes&SPECIES=punctatum&Author=Poir.&INFRA1=subsp.&INFRA1NAME=ssp. 
floridanum&INFRA1AUTHOR=Wess.%20Boer&CommonNames=Florida%20bristle%20fer
n). This is not surprising since within-range reintroductions into 
unoccupied habitat have historically resulted in low success rates for 
plants (Maschinski et al. 2011, p. 159). Future reintroduction efforts 
will likely be attempted by MSBG from Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum plants grown in-vitro from CREW.
    In Sumter County, monitoring and management in Withlacoochee State 
Forest is provided through the Florida Forest Service (Werner 2013e, 
pers. comm.). Habitat is assessed annually for canopy changes that may 
alter ambient humidity levels and for impacts from nonnative plant 
species and feral pigs. Additionally, surveys on SWFWMD property are 
conducted periodically to assess habitat and search for rare plant 
species in the area (Deangelis 2013b, pers. comm.).
Summary of Factor A
    Past human actions have destroyed, modified, and curtailed the 
range and habitat available for Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum. 
Human population growth and development, agricultural conversion, and 
regional drainage have modified, or in most cases, destroyed, habitat 
where T. p. ssp. floridanum once occurred, thereby limiting the 
subspecies' current range and abundance in Florida.
    In Miami-Dade County, habitat modification and destruction have 
severely impacted rockland hammocks that were once abundant. The 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum metapopulation in Miami-Dade 
County is currently composed of four known populations, all on County-
managed conservation lands. Historically, T. p. floridanum was found in 
an additional nine hammocks in Miami-Dade County. These populations 
have been extirpated, and the historical range of the southern 
metapopulation has been reduced by nearly 80 percent. Although much of 
the habitat has been destroyed and those fragments suitable for the 
plant remain protected in Miami-Dade County, habitat loss and 
modification from future development or conversion on private and 
conservation lands in Miami-Dade County poses a threat. In addition, 
the areas where T. p. floridanum currently exists are still vulnerable 
to activities in the surrounding areas including agricultural clearing 
and hydrologic alterations.
    The Sumter County metapopulation of Trichomanes puctatum ssp. 
floridanum is composed of two known populations, both on State-owned 
land in the Jumper Creek Tract of the WSF. In central Florida, the 
subspecies was historically found in as many as seven additional 
locations. All of these historical populations have since been 
extirpated primarily due to land conversion and clearing (including for 
cattle grazing) and the impacts of local and regional drainage. Land 
clearing and hydrological alterations on private lands adjacent to the 
Jumper Creek Tract continues to be a threat to T. p. floridanum 
populations and habitat. Although historical habitat modification and 
destruction in Sumter County has not been as extensive as in South 
Florida, this is a future potential threat due to the large areas of 
undeveloped lands within Sumter County.
    The destruction and modification of habitats have resulted in 
changes in canopy, humidity, hydrology, and fragmentation that have 
contributed to the declines of this taxon. High humidity and dense 
canopy cover are critical for Trichomanes puctatum ssp. floridanum's 
survival; therefore, any habitat modification or destruction that 
changes ambient humidity levels or canopy cover poses a threat to this 
subspecies. Thorough knowledge of the impacts of habitat fragmentation 
is unknown for both metapopulations of T. p. ssp. floridanum because 
information on dispersal mechanisms of this

[[Page 61149]]

subspecies is currently lacking. Habitat fragmentation is likely a 
stressor impacting this subspecies, but the best available data do not 
indicate that it rises to the level of a threat. Water withdrawals may 
still be of some concern; however, the impact of this factor is not 
currently known, and therefore, we have determined it to be a stressor, 
but it is not rising to the level of a threat at this time.
    Conservation efforts are currently providing some benefits to this 
subspecies but are not sufficient to ameliorate the habitat threats. 
Therefore, based on the best information available, we have determined 
that the threats to Trichomanes puctatum ssp. floridanum from habitat 
destruction, modification, or curtailment are occurring throughout the 
entire range of the species and are expected to continue into the 
future.

Factor B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    The best available data do not indicate that overutilization for 
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes is a 
threat to Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum.

Factor C. Disease or Predation

    No diseases or incidences of predation have been reported for 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum. Therefore, the best available 
data do not indicate that disease or predation is a threat to the 
subspecies.

Factor D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Under this factor, we examine whether threats to the subspecies 
discussed under the other factors are continuing due to an inadequacy 
of an existing regulatory mechanism. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act 
requires the Service to take into account ``those efforts, if any, 
being made by any State or foreign nation, or any political subdivision 
of a State or foreign nation, to protect such species. . . .'' In 
relation to Factor D under the Act, we interpret this language to 
require the Service to consider relevant Federal, State, and tribal 
laws, regulations, and other such mechanisms that may minimize any of 
the threats we describe in threat analyses under the other four 
factors, or otherwise enhance conservation of the species. We give 
strongest weight to statutes and their implementing regulations and to 
management direction that stems from those laws and regulations. An 
example would be State governmental actions enforced under a State 
statute or constitution or Federal action under statute.
    Having evaluated the impact of the threats as mitigated by any such 
conservation efforts, we analyze under Factor D the extent to which 
existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to address the specific 
threats to the species. Regulatory mechanisms, if they exist, may 
reduce or eliminate the impacts from one or more identified threats. In 
this section, we review existing Federal, State, and local regulatory 
mechanisms to determine whether they effectively reduce or remove 
threats to Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum.
Federal
    The only known extant populations of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum occur on State- or County-owned properties and development 
of these areas will likely require no Federal permit or other 
authorization. Therefore, projects that affect T. p. ssp. floridanum on 
State- and County-owned lands do not have a Federal oversight, such as 
complying with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 
4321 et seq.), unless the project has a Federal nexus (Federal funding, 
permits, or other authorizations). Therefore, T. p. ssp. floridanum has 
no direct Federal regulatory protection in its known occupied habitats.
State
    FNAI considers the State status of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum to be S1, ``critically imperiled in Florida because of 
extreme rarity (five or fewer occurrences or less than 1,000 
individuals) or because of extreme vulnerability to extinction due to 
some natural or man-made factor'' (FNAI 2013, http://fnai.org/PDF/Element_tracking_summary_current.pdf). The IRC considers its status as 
``critically imperiled'' (Gann et al. 2002, pp. 552-554).
    The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) 
has listed Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum on the Regulated Plant 
Index (Index) as endangered under Chapter 5B-40, Florida Administrative 
Code (State of Florida 2013, Florida Statutes: https://www.flrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?title=PRESERVATION%20OF%20NATIVE%20FLORA%20OF%20FLORIDA&ID=5B-40.0055). This listing provides little or no habitat protection beyond 
the State's Development of Regional Impact process, which discloses 
impacts from projects, but provides no regulatory protection for State-
listed plants on private lands. Florida Statutes 581.185 sections 
(3)(a) and (b) prohibit any person from willfully destroying or 
harvesting any species listed as endangered or threatened on the Index, 
or growing such a plant on the private land of another, or on any 
public land, without first obtaining the written permission of the 
landowner and a permit from the Florida Department of Plant Industry. 
The statute further provides that any person willfully destroying or 
harvesting; transporting, carrying, or conveying on any public road or 
highway; or selling or offering for sale any plant listed in the Index 
as endangered must have a permit from the State at all times when 
engaged in any such activities. Further, section (10) of the statute 
provides for consultation similar to section 7 of the Act for listed 
species, by requiring the Department of Transportation to notify the 
FDACS and the Endangered Plant Advisory Council of planned highway 
construction at the time bids are first advertised, to facilitate 
evaluation of the project for listed plant populations, and to 
``provide for the appropriate disposal of such plants'' (i.e., 
transplanting).
    However, this statute provides no substantive protection of habitat 
or protection of potentially suitable habitat at this time. Subsections 
(8)(a) and (b) of the statute waive State regulation for certain 
classes of activities for all species on the Index, including the 
clearing or removal of regulated plants for agricultural, forestry, 
mining, construction (residential, commercial, or infrastructure), and 
fire-control activities by a private landowner or his or her agent.
    The Florida Forest Service (FFS) is the lead managing agency for 
State forests, as outlined in the Management Lease from the landowner 
(Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund of the State 
of Florida) with guidance provided in Chapters 253, 259, and 589 of the 
Florida Statutes (State of Florida, 2013 Florida Statutes, http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?Mode=View%20Statutes&Submenu=1&Tab=statutes). FFS is 
responsible for the management and supervision of the multiple-use 
guidelines of Withlacoochee State Forest. For research on State Forest 
lands, prior approval is required. Research deemed legitimate will be 
issued a State Forest Use Permit (FDACS-11228) or letter of 
authorization (The Florida Forest Service 2013, State Forest Handbook). 
Although there is no imminent threat to Withlacoochee State Forest 
being modified (e.g., logged), altered (e.g., installation of 
pipelines), or sold for

[[Page 61150]]

development, the State may be allowed to proceed with such actions only 
after they have been reviewed and approved at public meetings by the 
Acquisition and Restoration Council (ARC) and, depending upon the 
issue, by the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund 
of the State of Florida.
    Although the MFLs established by the South Florida Water Management 
District (SFWMD) in southeast Florida (a separate entity than the 
Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) described earlier) 
are not directly applicable in the area of Miami Rock Ridge where 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum occurs, they do indirectly limit 
ground water withdrawals in other areas of south Florida, including 
other areas of the Miami Rock Ridge. Unfortunately, MFL thresholds in 
place that establish water withdrawal standards are set so low that 
protection measures are rarely triggered. These low water level 
standards may be further exacerbated during times of drought, resulting 
in even greater impacts to the water table and the overall regional 
hydrology. Furthermore, MFL standards also do not apply to wells on 
private property or for consumptive use. The lowering of ground water 
and associated changes in local ambient humidity have already occurred 
throughout south Florida and have likely contributed to the decline of 
T. p. ssp. floridanum and possibly limited distribution and resilience 
of the subspecies (Grossenbacher 2013, pers. comm.). Plants are likely 
to be further stressed by the continued lowering of ground water if 
additional large wells are created on private property for such 
activities as agriculture or during extended periods of drought because 
these types of circumstances are not regulated by the water withdrawal 
standards established by the SFWMD. In general, this regulatory 
mechanism has not been sufficient to reduce or remove the threat to T. 
p. ssp. floridanum posed by changes in hydrology discussed under Factor 
A by ensuring that current water levels will persist into the future.
    Sumter County MFLs identified and adopted by the SWFWMD protect the 
Withlacoochee River and the Tsala Apopka lake chain, which connects to 
the Withlacoochee in the vicinity of Jumper Creek Tract where 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum occurs. Maintaining designated 
MFLs will have a direct bearing on the design of future water supply 
development projects, of which there are several already proposed in 
Sumter County (Deangelis 2014c, pers. comm.). However, it is uncertain 
how these future projects would impact extant occurrences of T. p. ssp. 
floridanum or suitable habitat for the subspecies.
Local
    In 1984, section 24-49 of the Code of Miami-Dade County established 
regulation of County-designated NFCs. These regulations were placed on 
specific properties throughout the County by an act of the Board of 
County Commissioners in an effort to protect environmentally sensitive 
forest lands. The Miami-Dade County Department of Regulatory and 
Economic Resources (RER) has regulatory authority over these County-
designated NFCs and is charged with enforcing regulations that provide 
partial protection of remaining upland forested areas designated as NFC 
on the Miami Rock Ridge. NFC regulations are designed to prevent 
clearing or destruction of native vegetation within preserved areas. 
Miami-Dade County Code typically allows up to 10 percent of a rockland 
hammock designated as NFC to be developed for properties greater than 5 
acres and requires that the remaining 90 percent be placed under a 
perpetual covenant for preservation purposes (Joyner 2013a, 2014, pers. 
comm; Lima 2014, pers. comm.). However, for properties less than 5 
acres, up to one-half an acre can be cleared if the request is deemed a 
reasonable use of property; this allowance oftentimes can be greater 
than 10 percent of the property (Lima, 2014, pers. comm.). NFC 
landowners are also required to obtain an NFC permit for any work, 
including removal of nonnatives within the boundaries of the NFC on 
their property. When discovered, RER pursues unpermitted work through 
appropriate enforcement action and seeks restoration when possible. The 
NFC program is responsible for ensuring that NFC permits are issued in 
accordance with the limitations and requirements of the county code and 
that appropriate NFC preserves are established and maintained in 
conjunction with the issuance of an NFC permit when development occurs.
    Although the NFC program is designed to protect rare and important 
upland (non-wetlands) habitats in south Florida, it is a regulatory 
strategy with limitations. For example, in certain circumstances where 
landowners can demonstrate that limiting development to 10 percent does 
not allow for ``reasonable use'' of the property, additional 
development may be approved. Furthermore, Miami-Dade County Code 
provides for up to 100 percent of the NFC to be developed on a parcel 
in limited circumstances for parcels less than 2.02 ha (5 ac) in size 
and only requires coordination with the landowner if they plan to 
develop property or perform work within the NFC designated area. As 
such, many of the existing private forested NFC parcels remain 
fragmented, without management obligations or preserve designation, as 
development has not been proposed at a level that would trigger the NFC 
regulatory requirements. Often, nonnative vegetation over time begins 
to dominate and degrade the undeveloped and unmanaged NFC landscape 
until it no longer meets the legal threshold of an NFC, which requires 
the land to be dominated by native vegetation. When development of such 
degraded NFCs is proposed, Miami-Dade County Code requires delisting of 
the degraded areas as part of the development process. Property 
previously designated as NFC is removed from the list even before 
development is initiated because of the abundance of nonnative species, 
making it no longer considered to be jurisdictional or subject to the 
NFC protection requirements of Miami-Dade County Code (Grossenbacher 
2013, pers. comm.).
    Although Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum is currently 
afforded some protection from outright destruction on public 
conservation land, changes in the surrounding landscape that affect the 
subspecies are not regulated. Any undocumented occurrences of T. p. 
ssp. floridanum and suitable habitat on private lands are at risk. For 
example, the private property known as ``Monkey Jungle'' (historically 
referred to as Cox Hammock) is a public attraction and is home to a 
considerable number of primate species. Upon recent visitation to this 
site (Adimey 2013a, field notes) the habitat features appeared to be 
similar to other hammocks where T. p. ssp. floridanum currently is 
known to live (i.e., large solution holes, high humidity, dense canopy, 
standing water). Although much of the hammock has been altered to 
accommodate captive animals and visitors, there is still a significant 
portion of the hammock that remains untouched and overgrown with 
extensive nonnative, invasive plant species. ``Monkey Jungle'' receives 
limited protection under the Miami-Dade County Environmental Protection 
Ordinance as an NFC, where only portions of NFCs can be cleared once a 
permit is obtained from the County. The landowner could apply for a 
permit and destroy undocumented populations of T. p. ssp. floridanum 
and the subspecies' habitat on this site. Because the site is private 
and not managed as

[[Page 61151]]

a preserve (i.e., it is not controlled for nonnative, invasive plant 
species), degradation of potential habitat for T. p. ssp. floridanum is 
likely. Furthermore, a change in ownership, accompanied by subsequent 
modifications in land-use, may cause extirpation of any undocumented T. 
p. ssp. floridanum populations or negatively impact suitable habitat. 
Additionally, Miami-Dade County has oversight of any work or research 
completed within the local preserve areas; permits are required for any 
outside work or research on County-owned lands in order to further 
protect the habitat from potential direct or indirect impacts (Gil 
2013a, pers. comm.).
    Because a comprehensive survey in Sumter County has not yet been 
conducted, there is a chance of finding new populations of Trichomanes 
punctatum ssp. floridanum in the area. Any undocumented occurrences and 
suitable habitat that could be important for reintroduction or 
recolonization of this subspecies in Sumter County, especially on 
private lands, are potentially at risk due to development. Under 
section 13-644(a)(1) of the County code, ``[m]ajor developments shall 
identify and protect habitats of protected wildlife and vegetation 
species,'' and in section 13-644(a)(1)2.b.2, ``[n]o permit will be 
issued for development which results in unmitigated destruction of 
specimens of endangered, threatened or rare species.'' Therefore, 
County code prevents unmitigated destruction of endangered, threatened, 
or rare species only when associated with ``major developments.'' 
However, these sections do not prevent land destruction or development 
on private land where any undocumented populations of T. p. ssp. 
floridanum or suitable habitat for future reintroduction are 
vulnerable. Current zoning in the Wahoo area limits development to one 
unit per 4 ha (10 ac); therefore, ``major developments'' do not seem to 
be likely in that area. In general, existing county ordinances do not 
prevent the conversion of habitat to agricultural use or building on 
sites with endangered, threatened, or rare plant species. Without 
complete survey information for Sumter County, it is difficult to 
assess the extent to which unknown occurrences and suitable habitat on 
private lands are at risk. Agriculture and development are ongoing and 
promoted in this County, and no regulatory mechanisms exist that 
protect T. p. ssp. floridanum and its habitat on private lands.
Summary of Factor D
    Currently, Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum is found only on 
State and County lands; however, there is no regulatory mechanism in 
place that provides substantive protection of habitat or protection of 
potentially suitable habitat at this time. In addition, subsections of 
applicable statutes waive State regulation for private landowners or 
their agents, allowing certain activities to clear or remove species on 
the Index. Little, if any, protection is afforded to T. p. ssp. 
floridanum by the established MFLs in south Florida as they are set 
very low, are rarely triggered, and are not applicable in the portion 
of the Miami Rock Ridge where the subspecies currently lives. 
Established MFLs in Sumter County can positively impact areas where T. 
p. ssp. floridanum occurs, provided that these designated MFLs are 
maintained when future water supply development projects are 
undertaken. The NFC program in Miami is designed to protect rare and 
important upland (non-wetlands) habitats in south Florida; however, 
this regulatory strategy has several limitations that can negatively 
affect T. p. ssp. floridanum. Sumter County code prevents unmitigated 
destruction of endangered, threatened, or rare species only when 
associated with ``major developments'' and does not prevent conversion 
of habitat to agricultural use or building on private property.
    Although all extant populations of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum are afforded some level of protection because they are on 
public conservation lands, existing regulatory mechanisms have not led 
to a reduction or removal of threats posed to the subspecies by a wide 
array of sources (see discussions under Factors A and E).

Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued 
Existence

    Other natural or manmade factors affect Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum to varying degrees. Specific threats include the spread of 
nonnative, invasive species; potentially incompatible management 
practices (e.g., inadvertent spraying of T. p. ssp. floridanum while 
controlling for nonnatives); direct impacts to plants from recreation 
and other human activities; small population size and isolation; 
climate change; and the related risks from environmental stochasticity 
(extreme weather). Each of these threats and its specific effect on T. 
p. ssp. floridanum are discussed in detail below.
Nonnative Species
    Nonnative species can stress, alter, or even destroy native species 
and their habitats. The threat of nonnative plant species is ongoing 
due to their: (1) Number and extent, (2) ability to out-compete native 
species, (3) abundant seed sources, and (4) extensive disturbance 
within habitats. Further challenges exist due to limitation of 
resources to combat this threat, as well as the difficulty in managing 
fragmented hammocks bordered by urban development, which often can 
serve as seed sources for nonnative species (Bradley and Gann 1999, p. 
13). Nonnative, invasive plants compete with native plants for space, 
light, water, and nutrients, and they limit growth and abundance of 
natural vegetation and can make habitat conditions unsuitable for 
native plants.
    In south Florida, at least 162 nonnative plant species are known to 
invade rockland hammocks; impacts are particularly severe on the Miami 
Rock Ridge (Service 1999, pp. 3-135). Nonnative plant species have 
significantly affected rockland hammock and mesic hammock habitats 
where Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum occurs and are considered 
one of the threats with greatest impact to the subspecies (Snyder et 
al. 1990, p. 273; Gann et al. 2002, pp. 552-554; FNAI 2010, pp. 22, 
26). Nonnative plants outcompete and displace T. p. ssp. floridanum in 
solution holes, promoting overshading and forming dense strata (layers) 
in hammocks, which alter the habitat and its surrounding conditions 
(Possley 2013f, pers. comm.). It has also been suggested that the 
insular nature of south Florida, as well as the hammocks themselves, 
predispose this habitat to invasion by nonnative plants (e.g., the 
proximity of seed sources, which increases the volume of nonnatives and 
accelerates the time it takes for the arrival and establishment of 
nonnatives) (Horvitz et al. 1998, p. 961). In many Miami-Dade County 
parks, nonnative plant species comprise 50 percent of the flora in 
hammock fragments (Service 1999, pp. 3-135). Horvitz (et al. 1998, p. 
968) suggests the displacement of native species by nonnative species 
in conservation and preserve areas is a complex problem with serious 
impacts to biodiversity conservation, as management in these areas 
generally does not protect native species and ecological processes, as 
intended. Problematic nonnative invasive plants in Miami-Dade County 
associated with Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum include Schinus

[[Page 61152]]

terebinthifolius (Brazilian pepper), Bischofia javanica (bishop wood), 
Syngonium podophyllum (American evergreen), Jasminum fluminense 
(Brazilian jasmine), Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry), Thelypteris 
opulenta (jeweled maiden fern), Nephrolepis multiflora (Asian 
swordfern), Schefflera actinophylla (octopus tree), Jasminum dichotomum 
(Gold Coast jasmine), Epipremnum pinnatum (centipede tongavine), and 
Nephrolepis cordifolia (narrow swordfern) (Possley 2013h-i, pers. 
comm.).
    In Sumter County, the most problematic nonnative invasive species 
occurring in Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum habitat are 
Tradescantia fluminensis (small leaf spiderwort), and Paederia foetida 
(skunkvine) (Werner 2014, pers. comm.). Furthermore, Citrus aurantium 
(bitter orange) is found in this locale and is considered problematic 
due to its tendency to attract feral hogs, another nonnative species 
associated with extensive habitat destruction (see below). Agricultural 
fields in proximity to the Sumter metapopulation are a nonnative seed 
source, increasing potential encroachment of nonnative plants to the 
area (Werner 2013b-c, pers. comm.).
    In some instances, management of nonnative vegetation may also be 
detrimental, in that nonnative species may actually provide the 
necessary canopy to limit sunlight exposure and control humidity and 
removing the nonnative species exposes the fern. In the case of 
Castellow Hammock, the majority of the shade near two of the large 
solution holes containing Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum is 
provided by giant Schinus terebinthifolius trees; eliminating these 
trees could likely result in detrimental effects to T. p. ssp. 
floridanum residing in the underlying solution holes. In hammocks such 
as Castellow, desiccation from excessive sun exposure due to the 
removal of S. terebinthifolius canopy has already occurred. In this 
case, the subpopulation of T. p. ssp. floridanum below where the S. 
terebinthifolius tree was turned brown; however, T. p. ssp. floridanum 
could eventually revitalize if sufficient canopy is re-established to 
limit sunlight exposure (Possley 2013e, pers. comm.). Additionally, 
nonnative plant control may also become a threat when T. p. ssp. 
floridanum are inadvertently sprayed while conducting local nonnative 
removal efforts (Possley 2013e, pers. comm.).
    Nonnative plant species are also a concern on private lands, where 
often these species are not controlled due to associated costs, lack of 
interest, or lack of knowledge of detrimental impacts to the ecosystem. 
Undiscovered populations of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum on 
private lands could certainly be at risk. Overall, active management is 
necessary to control for nonnative species and to protect unique and 
rare habitat where T. p. ssp. floridanum occurs (Snyder et al. 1990, p. 
273). Treatment of nonnative plant species should consider canopy and 
humidity needs of T. p. ssp. floridanum.
    Nonnative feral hogs living in the Withlacoochee State Forest are 
also considered a threat to this plant. Surveys in Sumter County have 
revealed evidence of hogs laying against or rubbing their bodies 
against large rocks, removing existing vegetation in the process. 
Recently, van der Heiden and Johnson (2013, p. 11) found one small rock 
where Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum had been scraped off when a 
hog rubbed itself on the rock after wallowing in the mud. Furthermore, 
rooting from hogs can destroy existing habitat by displacing smaller 
rocks where T. p. ssp. floridanum is found to grow and potentially 
damaging or eliminating a cluster (Werner 2013d, pers. comm.). In 
Withlacoochee State Forest, damaged areas from feral hogs are also more 
susceptible to invasion from nonnative plant species, such as Urena 
lobata (Caesarweed) and Tradescantia fluminensis (small-leaf 
spiderwort) (Werner 2013a, pers. comm.). If feral hogs continue to 
forage in areas where T. p. ssp. floridanum lives, it is possible 
entire clusters inhabiting one rock/boulder could be eliminated.
    In recent years, scientists in south Florida have noticed an 
increase in sightings of the nonnative genus Liguus (Cuban tree 
snails). Although snail grazing has not been observed on Trichomanes 
punctatum ssp. floridanum, it has been documented on other rare ferns 
living in the same habitat and could possibly be a threat in the 
future, either by this snail or another introduced species (Possley 
2013b, c, pers. comm.).
Climate Change
    Climatic changes, including sea level rise (SLR), are occurring in 
the State of Florida and are impacting associated plants, animals, and 
habitats. The term ``climate,'' as defined by the Intergovernmental 
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), refers to the mean and variability of 
different types of weather conditions over time, with 30 years being a 
typical period for such measurements, although shorter or longer 
periods also may be used (IPCC 2013, p. 1450). The term ``climate 
change'' thus refers to a change in the mean or variability of one or 
more measures of climate (e.g., temperature or precipitation) that 
persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer, whether 
the change is due to natural variability, human activity, or both (IPCC 
2013, p. 1450). A recent compilation of climate change and its effects 
is available from reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate 
Change (IPCC) (IPCC 2013, entire).
    Various changes in climate may have direct or indirect effects on 
species. These effects may be positive, neutral, or negative, and they 
may change over time, depending on the species and other relevant 
considerations, such as interactions of climate with other variables 
(e.g., habitat fragmentation) (IPCC 2007, pp. 8-14, 18-19). Projected 
changes in climate and related impacts can vary substantially across 
and within different regions of the world (e.g., IPCC 2007, pp. 8-12). 
Therefore, we use ``downscaled'' projections when they are available 
and have been developed through appropriate scientific procedures (see 
Glick et al. 2011, pp. 58-61, for a discussion of downscaling). As to 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum, downscaled projections suggest 
that SLR is the largest climate-driven challenge to low-lying coastal 
areas in the subtropical ecoregion of southern Florida (U.S. Climate 
Change Science Program (USCCSP) 2008, pp. 5-31, 5-32). All Miami-Dade 
County populations of T. p. ssp. floridanum occur at elevations 2.83-
4.14 m (9.29-13.57 ft) above sea level, making the subspecies highly 
susceptible to increased storm surges and related impacts associated 
with SLR, whereas the Sumter County populations are at approximately 
10.40 m (34.12 ft) above sea level and significantly farther from the 
coast.
    The long-term record at Key West shows that sea level rose on 
average 0.229 cm (0.090 in) annually between 1913 and 2013 (National 
Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 2013, p. 1). This 
equates to approximately 22.9 cm (9.02 in) over the last 100 years. 
IPCC (2008, p. 28) emphasized it is very likely that the average rate 
of SLR during the 21st century will exceed the historical rate. The 
IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios (2000, entire) presented a 
range of scenarios based on the computed amount of change in the 
climate system due to various potential amounts of anthropogenic 
greenhouse gases and aerosols in 2100. Each scenario describes a future 
world with varying levels of atmospheric pollution

[[Page 61153]]

leading to corresponding levels of global warming and corresponding 
levels of SLR. The IPCC Synthesis Report (2007, entire) provided an 
integrated view of climate change and presented updated projections of 
future climate change and related impacts under different scenarios.
    Subsequent to the 2007 IPCC Report, the scientific community has 
continued to model SLR. Recent peer-reviewed publications indicate a 
movement toward increased acceleration of SLR. Observed SLR rates are 
already trending along the higher end of the 2007 IPCC estimates, and 
it is now widely held that SLR will exceed the levels projected by the 
IPCC (Rahmstorf et al. 2012, p. 1; Grinsted et al. 2010, p. 470). Taken 
together, these studies support the use of higher end estimates now 
prevalent in the scientific literature. Recent studies have estimated 
global mean SLR of 1.0-2.0 m (3.3-6.6 ft) by 2100 as follows: 0.75-1.90 
m (2.50-6.20 ft; Vermeer and Rahmstorf 2009, p. 21530), 0.8-2.0 m (2.6-
6.6 ft; Pfeffer et al. 2008, p. 1342), 0.9-1.3 m (3.0-4.3 ft; Grinsted 
et al. 2010, pp. 469-470), 0.6-1.6 m (2.0-5.2 ft; Jevrejeva et al. 
2010, p. 4), and 0.5-1.4 m (1.6-4.6 ft; National Research Council 2012, 
p. 2).
    Other processes expected to be affected by projected warming 
include temperatures, rainfall (amount, seasonal timing, and 
distribution), and storms (frequency and intensity) (see 
``Environmental Stochasticity'', below). Models where sea level 
temperatures are increasing also show a higher probability of more 
intense storms (Maschinski et al. 2011, p. 148). The Massachusetts 
Institute of Technology (MIT) modeled several scenarios combining 
various levels of SLR, temperature change, and precipitation 
differences with human population growth, policy assumptions, and 
conservation funding changes (see ``Alternative Future Landscape 
Models'', below). All of the scenarios, from small climate change 
shifts to major changes, indicate significant effects on coastal Miami-
Dade County. The Science and Technology Committee of the Miami-Dade 
County Climate Change Task Force (Wanless et al. 2008, p. 1) recognizes 
that significant SLR is a serious concern for Miami-Dade County in the 
near future. In a January 2008 statement, the committee warned that sea 
level is expected to rise at least 0.9-1.5 m (3.0-5.0 ft) within this 
century (Wanless et al. 2008, p. 3). With a 0.9-1.2 m (3.0-4.0 ft) rise 
in sea level (above baseline) in Miami-Dade County, spring high tides 
would be at about 1.83-2.13 m (6.0-7.0 ft); freshwater resources would 
be gone; the Everglades would be inundated on the west side of Miami-
Dade County; the barrier islands would be largely inundated; storm 
surges would be devastating to coastal habitat and associated species; 
and landfill sites would be exposed to erosion, contaminating marine 
and coastal environments. Freshwater and coastal mangrove wetlands will 
be unable to keep up with or offset SLR of 0.61 m (2.0 ft) per century 
or greater. With a 1.52 m (5.0 ft) rise, Miami-Dade County will be 
extremely diminished (Wanless et al. 2008, pp. 3-4).
    Prior to inundations from SLR, there will likely be habitat 
transitions related to climate change, including changes to hydrology 
and increasing vulnerability to storm surge. Hydrology has a strong 
influence on plant distribution in coastal areas (IPCC 2008, p. 57). 
Such communities typically grade from salt to brackish to freshwater 
species. From the 1930s to 1950s, increased salinity of coastal waters 
contributed to the decline of cabbage palm forests in southwest Florida 
(Williams et al. 1999, pp. 2056-2059), expansion of mangroves into 
adjacent marshes in the Everglades (Ross et al. 2000, pp. 101, 111), 
and loss of pine rockland in the Keys (Ross et al. 1994, pp. 144, 151-
155). In Florida, pine rocklands transition into rockland hammocks, 
and, as such, these habitat types are closely associated in the 
landscape. A study conducted in one pine rockland location in the 
Florida Keys (with an average elevation of 0.89 m (2.90 ft)) found an 
approximately 65 percent reduction in an area occupied by South Florida 
slash pine over a 70-year period, with pine mortality and subsequent 
increased proportions of halophytic (salt-loving) plants occurring 
earlier at the lower elevations (Ross et al. 1994, pp. 149-152). During 
this same time span, local sea level had risen by 15 cm (6 in), and 
Ross et al. (1994, p. 152) found evidence of groundwater and soil water 
salinization. Extrapolating this situation to hardwood hammocks is not 
straightforward, but it suggests that changes in rockland hammock 
species composition may not be an issue in the immediate future (5-10 
years); however, over the long term (within the next 10-50 years), it 
may be an issue if current projections of SLR occur and freshwater 
inputs are not sufficient to maintain high humidities and prevent 
changes in existing canopy species through salinization (Saha et al. 
2011, pp. 22-25). Ross et al. (2009, pp. 471-478) suggested that 
interactions between SLR and pulse disturbances (e.g., storm surges) 
can cause vegetation to change sooner than projected based on sea level 
alone. Patterns of human development will also likely be significant 
factors influencing whether natural communities can move and persist 
(IPCC 2008, p. 57; USCCSP 2008, p. 7-6).
    Impacts from climate change including regional SLR have been 
studied for coastal hammocks but not rockland hammock habitat. Saha (et 
al. 2011, pp. 24-25) conducted a risk assessment on rare plant species 
in ENP and found that impacts from SLR have significant effects on 
imperiled taxa. This study also predicted a decline in the extent of 
coastal hammocks with initial SLR, coupled with a reduction in 
freshwater recharge volume and an increase in pore water (water filling 
spaces between grains of sediment) salinity, which will push hardwood 
species to the edge of their drought (freshwater shortage and 
physiological) tolerance, jeopardizing critically imperiled and/or 
endemic species with possible extirpation. In south Florida, SLR of 1-2 
m (0.30-0.61 ft) is estimated by 2100, which is on the higher end of 
global estimates for SLR. These projected increases in sea level pose a 
threat to coastal plant communities and habitats from mangroves at sea 
level to salinity-intolerant, coastal rockland hammocks where 
elevations are generally less than 2.00 m (6.1 ft) above sea level 
(Saha et al. 2011, p. 2). Loss or degradation of these habitats can be 
a direct result of SLR or in combination of several other factors, 
including diversion of freshwater flow, hurricanes, and exotic plant 
species infestations, which can ultimately pose a threat to rare plant 
populations (Saha et al. 2011, p. 24).
    Saha (et al. 2011, p. 4) suggested that the rising water table 
accompanying SLR will shrink the vadose zone (the area which extends 
from the top of the ground surface to the water table); increase 
salinity in the bottom portion of the freshwater lens, thereby 
increasing brackishness of plant-available water; and influence tree 
species composition of coastal hardwood hammocks based upon species-
level tolerance to salinity and/or drought. Evidence of population 
declines and shifts in rare plant communities, along with multi-trophic 
effects, already have been documented on the low-elevation islands of 
the Florida Keys (Maschinski et al. 2011, p. 148). Altered freshwater 
inputs can lead to the disappearance or decline of critically imperiled 
coastal plant species such as Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum. 
Shifts in freshwater flows, annual precipitation, and variability in 
SLR can impact salinity regimes. Although it is unknown if salinity

[[Page 61154]]

changes will impact existing habitat where T. p. ssp. floridanum 
currently lives, it should be noted that salinity-intolerant plants can 
become stressed within a few weeks from exposure to saline conditions, 
and persistent conditions can promote colonization by more salinity-
tolerant species, thereby leading to an irreversible composition change 
even if the salinity is lower over subsequent years (Saha et al. 2011, 
p. 23).
    In some areas of south Florida, precipitation is the main source of 
fresh water. Predictive climate change models demonstrate periods of 
drought will pose a threat to existing populations of Trichomanes 
punctatum ssp. floridanum. Saha (et al. 2011, pp. 19-21) found that 
during times of drought and resultant salinity stress, coastal hardwood 
tree density from the canopy was lost, while other species showed an 
increase. Areas with a deeper freshwater lens, such as rockland 
hammocks, may be able to sustain vegetation during periods of drought; 
however, this is currently unknown. Some tree species in coastal 
hammocks have the ability to access pockets of fresh water and tolerate 
mild salinities. These initial responses to salinity increases may 
trigger responses similar to drought, while prolonged exposure may 
cause irreversible toxicity caused by accumulation of salts (Munns 
2002, p. 248), causing a reduction in canopy or mortality (Maschinski 
et al. 2009, entire paper). Impacts from climate change causing shifts 
in local plant communities and invasion of additional nonnative plant 
species may be lessened by the ability of hardwood hammocks (such as 
rockland hammocks) to harvest rainfall water and retain it in the 
highly organic soil and lower their transpiration (i.e., the process of 
water movement through a plant and its evaporation from leaves and 
stems) during the dry season (Saha et al. 2011, p. 24).
    Drier conditions and increased variability in precipitation 
associated with climate change are expected to hamper successful 
regeneration of forests and cause shifts in vegetation types through 
time (Wear and Greis 2012, p. 39). With regard to Trichomanes punctatum 
ssp. floridanum, any weather shifts causing less precipitation would 
likely impact the viability of existing populations and could 
potentially limit future reproduction if droughts were to become a 
common occurrence. Ecosystem shifts would result in rockland and mesic 
hammocks having drier conditions; regular droughts; and changes in 
humidity, temperature and canopy. Increases in the scale, frequency, or 
severity of droughts and wildfires (see ``Fires'' section, below) could 
have negative effects on this taxon considering its general 
vulnerability due to small population size, restricted range, few 
populations, and relative isolation.
    Climate change impacts specifically for Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum may be numerous and vary depending on factors such as 
severity, the speed at which climate changes occur, timing, health of 
the species, and habitat and tolerance of species. Overall, healthy 
ecosystems can support greater biodiversity, which is considered one of 
the best strategies to combat impacts of climate change. Removing 
nonnative plants and minimizing natural disturbance impacts and other 
exogenous stresses can improve resiliency to climate change impacts 
(Maschinski et al. 2011, p. 159). In general, the best ways to prepare 
and protect rare species, such as T. p. ssp. floridanum, from impacts 
of climate change include actively managing habitats to improve 
resilience, population growth, and potential for natural dispersal, and 
controlling for nonnative species. Efforts to actively manage for 
resilience are currently limited for both metapopulations of T. p. ssp. 
floridanum due to logistic feasibility, insufficient funding and 
research, small and fragmented existing populations, and lack of 
successful reintroduction efforts into the wild.
Alternative Future Landscape Models
    To accommodate the large uncertainty in SLR projections, 
researchers must estimate effects from a range of scenarios. Various 
model scenarios developed at MIT and GeoAdaptive Inc. have projected 
possible trajectories of future transformation of the peninsular 
Florida landscape by 2060 based upon four main drivers: climate change, 
shifts in planning approaches and regulations, human population change, 
and variations in financial resources for conservation (Vargas-Moreno 
and Flaxman 2010, pp. 1-6). The scenarios do not account for 
temperature, precipitation, or species habitat shifts due to climate 
change, and no storm surge effects are considered. The current MIT 
scenarios in Florida range from an increase of 0.09-1.0 m (0.3-3.3 ft) 
by 2060.
    Based on the most recent estimates of SLR and the best available 
data at this time, we evaluated potential effects of SLR using the 
current ``worst case'' (e.g., the highest range for SLR) MIT scenario 
as well as comparing elevations of remaining rockland hammock fragments 
in Miami-Dade County and mesic hammocks in Sumter County with extant 
populations of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum. The ``worst 
case'' MIT scenario assumes SLR of 1.0 m (3.3 ft) by 2060, low 
financial resources, a ``business as usual'' approach to planning, and 
a doubling of human population.
    Based on the 1.0-m (3.3-ft) scenario, none of the rockland hammocks 
in Miami-Dade County where extant populations of Trichomanes punctatum 
ssp. floridanum occur would be inundated. However, all four populations 
would be within 9.66 km (6.0 mi) of saltwater, increasing the 
likelihood of localized vegetation shifts within the rockland hammocks 
and vulnerability to natural stochastic events such as hurricanes and 
tropical storms. The 1.0-m SLR scenario shows existing rockland 
hammocks in Miami-Dade County (that do not contain T. p. ssp. 
floridanum) directly adjacent to saltwater. Although these existing 
hammocks are located in higher elevation areas along the coastal ridge, 
changes in the salinity of the water table and soils, along with 
additional vegetation shifts in the region, are likely. A few remaining 
rockland hammocks further inland (e.g., Big and Little George Hammocks) 
are located in highly urbanized areas; these hammocks are small and 
fragmented, reducing the chances of further development due to SLR in 
the area. Actual impacts may be greater or less than anticipated based 
upon the high variability of factors involved (e.g., SLR, human 
population growth) and the assumptions made in this model.
    A projected SLR (using elevation data) of 2.0 m (6.6 ft) appears to 
inundate much larger portions of urban Miami-Dade County. This 
evaluation was not based on any modeling, as opposed to the previous 
1.0-m scenario; rather, this scenario examines current elevation based 
on LiDAR data. Under this 2.0-m (6.6-ft) SLR scenario, none of the four 
hammocks where Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum is known to occur 
will be inundated, but all will be within approximately 2.41 km (1.5 
mi) of saltwater in the inundated transverse glades joining the 
enlarged Biscayne Bay. Castellow Hammock will be the least impacted at 
approximately 2.41 km (1.5 mi) from saltwater, while Hattie Bauer will 
be adjacent to saltwater. Fuchs and Meissner hammocks will be 1.61 km 
(1.0 mi) from saltwater and will be surrounded by more wetlands. This 
scenario will leave all these locations extremely vulnerable to 
vegetation shifts, natural stochastic events, and loss of existing 
habitat and land

[[Page 61155]]

protection. Of the remaining rockland hammocks not containing T. p. 
ssp. floridanum in south Florida, most would be fully or partially 
inundated after a 2.0-m (6.6-ft) SLR, except for the hammocks located 
on the higher elevated coastal ridge, which would still be adjacent to 
saltwater.
    Due to the higher elevation and inland location of Sumter County in 
north Florida, existing populations of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum and associated habitat will not be impacted by 1.0- and 2.0-
m (3.3- and 6.6-ft) rises in sea level. The 2.0-m (6.6-ft) SLR scenario 
would still leave the Sumter occurrences approximately 37.0 km (23.0 
mi) from saltwater. Regional shifts in water table salinity, soils, or 
vegetation are not expected.
Environmental Stochasticity
    Endemic species whose populations exhibit a high degree of 
isolation, such as Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum, are extremely 
susceptible to extinction from both random and nonrandom catastrophic 
natural or human-caused events. Small populations of species, without 
positive growth rates, are considered to have a high extinction risk 
from site-specific demographic and environmental stochasticity (Lande 
1993, pp. 911-927). Populations at the edge of a species' range, as may 
be the case with T. p. ssp. floridanum in Sumter County, may be 
particularly vulnerable to environmental stochasticity, as they may 
also be at the edge of their physiological and adaptive limits 
(Baguette 2004, p. 216).
    The climate in Florida is driven by a combination of local, 
regional, and global events, regimes, and oscillations (e.g., El 
Ni[ntilde]o Southern Oscillation with a frequency of every 4 to 7 
years, solar cycle every 11 years, and the Atlantic Multi-decadal 
Oscillation); however, the exact magnitude, direction, and distribution 
of these climatic influences on a regional level are difficult to 
project. There are three main ``seasons'' in Florida: (1) The wet 
season, which is hot, rainy, and humid from June through October; (2) 
the official hurricane season that extends one month beyond the wet 
season (June 1 through November 30), with peak season being August and 
September; and (3) the dry season, which is drier and cooler, from 
November through May (Miller 2013, pers. comm.). In the dry season, 
periodic surges of cool and dry continental air masses influence the 
weather with short-duration rain events followed by long periods of dry 
weather.
    Florida is considered the most vulnerable State in the United 
States to hurricanes and tropical storms (Florida Climate Center, 
http://coaps.fsu.edu/climate_center). Based on data gathered from 1856 
to 2008, Klotzbach and Gray (2009, p. 28) calculated the climatological 
probabilities for each State being impacted by a hurricane or major 
hurricane in all years over the 152-year timespan. Of the coastal 
States analyzed, Florida had the highest climatological probabilities, 
with a 51 percent probability of a hurricane (Category 1 or 2) and a 21 
percent probability of a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher). From 
1856 to 2008, Florida experienced 109 hurricanes and 36 major 
hurricanes. Given the few isolated populations and restricted range of 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum in locations prone to storm 
influences (i.e., Miami-Dade County), this subspecies is at substantial 
risk from hurricanes, storm surges, and other extreme weather events.
    Natural stochastic events can pose a threat to the persistence of 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum through the destruction of 
existing habitat. Some climate change models predict increased 
frequency and duration of severe storms, including hurricanes and 
tropical storms (McLaughlin et al. 2002, p. 6074; Cook et al. 2004, p. 
1015; Golladay et al. 2004, p. 504). Other models predict hurricane and 
tropical storm frequencies in the Atlantic are expected to decrease 
between 10-30 percent by 2100 (Knutson et al. 2008, pp. 1-21). For 
those models that predict fewer hurricanes, predictions of hurricane 
wind speeds are expected to increase by 5-10 percent due to an increase 
in available energy for intense storms. Increases in hurricane winds 
can elevate the chances of damage to existing canopy.
    In south Florida, tropical hardwood hammocks forests are known to 
experience frequent disturbances from hurricanes (Horvitz et al. 1998, 
p. 947). Hurricanes and tropical storms can damage existing canopy, 
which provides shade and cover from wind; canopy loss of any kind is 
believed to be the threat with greatest impact to existing 
metapopulations of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum (Adimey 2013b, 
field notes; Possley 2013p, pers. comm.). For example, impacts from 
Hurricane Andrew in 1992 were thought to be responsible for the 
temporary loss of this subspecies from Hattie Bauer Hammock, where it 
had been observed for many years. Following this hurricane, the canopy 
was destroyed, allowing increased exposure to sunlight for several 
years. T. p. ssp. floridanum was not seen again in Hattie Bauer Hammock 
until 2011 (Possley 2013p, pers. comm.). Destruction of habitat due to 
hurricanes has also been documented in Sumter County in the Indian 
Ledges Hammock located near the town of Wahoo. This hammock, known to 
host a variety of rare ferns, orchids, and large trees, sustained 
severe damage from several hurricanes in 2004; very few original plant 
species once found in Indian Ledges Hammock exist in this location 
today (Deangelis 2014a, pers. comm.).
    Historically, Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum may have 
benefitted from more abundant and contiguous habitat to buffer it from 
storm events. The destruction and modification of native habitat, 
combined with small population size, has likely contributed over time 
to the stress, decline, and, in some instances, extirpation of 
populations or local occurrences due to stochastic events.
    A study conducted by Horvitz et al. (1998, p. 947) found that the 
regeneration of forest species after stochastic events depended on the 
amount of canopy disturbance, the time since disturbance, and the 
biological relationship between the individual species and its 
environment. Following Hurricane Andrew, the relative abundance and 
life-stage changed for many nonnative plant species within Miami-Dade 
County. These shifts continued to occur as a result of subsequent 
stochastic events, suggesting hurricanes can alter long-term hammock 
structure and the ongoing changes in species composition (Horvitz et 
al. 1998, pp. 961, 966).
    Stochastic events resulting in changes in normal precipitation 
(amount, seasonal timing, and distribution) and extreme temperature 
fluctuations may also impact Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum. 
During the winter dry season, T. p. ssp. floridanum can become 
desiccated without periodic rainfall and then recover during the wet 
season. Multi-year droughts may negatively impact populations. While 
droughts are natural events, they are a threat because there are so few 
populations of this subspecies. Specific range requirements regarding 
humidity, temperature, and precipitation are not known at this time for 
T. p. ssp. floridanum, making it difficult to accurately determine what 
impacts will occur from modifications in current environmental 
conditions where extant metapopulations occur. Extreme temperature 
changes such as cold events in south Florida or freezing temperatures 
in central Florida could have devastating impacts on this

[[Page 61156]]

subspecies. The small size of each population makes this plant 
especially vulnerable, in which the loss of even a few individuals 
could reduce the viability of a single population.
    Due to the small size of existing populations of Trichomanes 
punctatum ssp. floridanum, its genetic variability and overall 
resilience is likely low. These factors, combined with additional 
stress from habitat modifications (e.g., hydrological changes) may 
increase the inherent risk of stochastic events that impact this 
subspecies (Matthies et al. 2004, pp. 481-488). Additionally, 
stochastic events are expected to exacerbate the impacts of regional 
drainage and subsequent drops in humidity. For these reasons, T. p. 
ssp. floridanum is at risk of extirpation during extreme stochastic 
events. We have determined that these natural stochastic events as 
addressed above are a threat to the persistence of this subspecies in 
the future (Adimey 2013b, field notes; Possley 2013p, pers. comm.).
Fires
    Although fires are not a current concern for existing populations 
of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum, they have been known to 
impact populations in the past. Craighead (1963, p. 39) noted that 
extensive fires in hammocks eliminated ferns in much of their former 
range. Drainage efforts in the early 1900s also influenced the 
occurrence of fire; Phillips (1940, p. 166) noted that the frequent 
occurrence of fires in the late 1930s in southern Florida resulted in 
widespread destruction of flora. Fires may have been a factor in the 
disappearance of this taxon in Royal Palm Hammock, which suffered 
multiple fires in the first half of the 1900s according to photographs 
from J.K. Small (1916, http://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/49132; 
1917, http://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/49465). In recent 
decades, wildfires have been controlled in most rockland hammocks due 
to the extensive urbanization in Miami-Dade County. However, fires do 
have the potential to impact T. p. ssp. floridanum during periods of 
prolonged drought. While fires are a natural component of some 
ecosystems in south Florida, fires in hammocks can set back succession 
to pine rockland or other communities and will directly kill many plant 
species that are not adapted to fires.
    Generally, hammock environments are considered less susceptible to 
wildfires because their shaded, humid microclimate is not conducive to 
fire spread (Snyder et al. 1990, p. 258). Additionally, rockland 
hammocks occupy elevated, rarely inundated, and fire-free sites in all 
three of the major rockland areas in south Florida (Snyder et al. 1990, 
p 239). Mesic hammocks are also considered fire resistant in that many 
occur as ``islands'' on high ground within basin or floodplain 
wetlands, as patches of oak/palm forest in dry prairie or flatwoods 
communities, on river levees, or in ecotones between wetlands and 
upland communities, and possess high moisture soils due to heavy 
shading of the ground layer and accumulation of litter (FNAI 2010, p. 
20). Additionally, wildfires are now considered a minor stressor in 
mesic hammocks because of the use of prescribed burns (Werner 2013d, 
pers. comm; Possley 2013l, pers. comm.).
    Snyder (et al. 1990, p. 238) points out that the high organic 
content of hammock soils in south Florida can enable it to burn; 
however, soil fires typically only burn in hammocks in times of drought 
or when they are intentionally set (Snyder et al. 1990, pp. 258-260). 
This stressor is considered minimal in that fires typically will go out 
when they reach hammock margins, whether entering from pineland or some 
other community due to the presence of hardwood leaf litter lying 
directly on moist organic soil with minimal herbaceous fuel.
    Although wildfires are known to occur in Miami-Dade and Sumter 
Counties, they are not currently considered a threat at this time due 
to regional prescribed burn efforts, the natural fire-resistant 
features of these two habitats, and, in Sumter County, hydric hammock 
surrounding Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum populations. However, 
under future projected climate change scenarios, we expect drought 
conditions to exacerbate the effects on T. p. ssp. floridanum to a 
level at which fire becomes a threat in the future.
Public Use/Encroachment
    In Miami-Dade County, two of the four hammocks containing 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum (Castellow and Hattie Bauer) are 
accessible to the public. However, in both cases, T. p. ssp. floridanum 
is not accessible from the nature trail (Possley 2013h, pers. comm.). 
If public use were to increase significantly at any of the Miami-Dade 
hammocks, populations of T. p. ssp. floridanum could become at risk. 
For example, because the taxon grows along the rim and walls of 
solution holes, people climbing into these holes could damage existing 
populations; increased use could also introduce additional nonnative 
seed sources into the habitat. Similarly, climbing on boulders where 
the fern occurs in Sumter County could also cause damage. However, due 
to the low amount of visitation at the Withlacoochee State Forest 
(Werner 2013b-c, pers. comm.), public use and encroachment does not 
appear to be occurring at this time, and we have determined it does not 
pose a threat to T. p. ssp. floridanum.
Small Population Size and Isolation
    Low population resilience is a serious concern for species that are 
restricted to geographically limited areas, as they are inherently more 
vulnerable to extinction than widespread species due to an increased 
risk of genetic bottlenecks, random demographic fluctuations, climate 
change, and localized catastrophes such as hurricanes and disease 
outbreaks (Mangel and Tier 1994, p. 607; Pimm et al. 1988, p. 757). 
These problems are further magnified when populations are few, 
populations are restricted to very small geographic areas, and numbers 
of individuals are limited, as in the case of Trichomanes punctatum 
ssp. floridanum. Although robust population viability analyses 
(including minimum viable population calculations) have not been 
conducted for this subspecies, indications are that most existing 
populations are minimal in terms of abundance and size. Lack of 
dispersal between occurrences is also a stressor that contributes to 
the low population resilience for this subspecies (see ``Habitat 
Fragmentation'' under Factor A).
    Limited genetic variability will also impact population resilience. 
The ability of populations to adapt to environmental change is 
dependent upon genetic variation, a property of populations that 
derives from its members possessing different forms (i.e., alleles) of 
the same gene (Primack 1998, p. 283). High genetic diversity can 
enhance a species' persistence in a changing environment (Lynch and 
Lande 1993, pp. 246-247). Although Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum can grow in clusters, separate clusters are not necessarily 
different individuals, as they may have been connected by one or more 
stems in the past (Possley 2014b, pers. comm.). Thus, a population of 
T. p. ssp. floridanum containing many clusters may not have greater 
genetic diversity than a population with few clusters. Because there 
are only six extant populations of T. p. ssp. floridanum, with few 
plants, the genetic variability is considered low, and the subspecies 
is inherently at risk due to stochastic events and changes in 
environmental

[[Page 61157]]

conditions (Matthies et al. 2004, pp. 481-488).
    In summary, population resilience is impacted by factors such as 
small population size, vulnerability to random demographic fluctuations 
or natural catastrophes, and low genetic diversity, which is further 
magnified by synergistic (interaction of two or more components) 
effects with other threats, such as those discussed above. In 
evaluating the stressor of low population resilience to Trichomanes 
punctatum ssp. floridanum that could arise due to small population 
size, we reviewed the limited data available concerning abundance at 
each of the occurrences across the subspecies' range. This represents a 
conservative classification of small population size, as available data 
do not discriminate among individual plants and life-history stages. 
These small populations are at risk of adverse effects from reduced 
genetic variation, an increased risk of inbreeding depression, and 
reduced reproductive output. Many of these populations are small and 
isolated from each other, decreasing the likelihood that they could be 
naturally reestablished in the event that extinction from one location 
would occur.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Other Natural or Manmade Factors 
Affecting Its Continued Existence
    Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida have ongoing nonnative 
plant management programs to reduce threats on public lands, as funding 
and resources allow. In Miami-Dade County, nonnative, invasive plant 
management is very active, with a goal to treat all publically owned 
properties at least once a year and more often in many cases. Annual 
monitoring of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum is conducted by 
Fairchild, which records health and size of individual clusters of the 
subspecies along with potential new stressors, including nonnative, 
invasive species or habitat destruction; reports are forwarded to the 
County preserve manager for further attention (Possley 2013p, pers. 
comm.). IRC also conducts research and monitoring in various hammocks 
within Miami-Dade County for various rare and endangered plant species; 
nonnative, invasive species are documented, along with any occurrence 
of human disturbance (van der Heiden 2013i, pers. comm.). In Sumter 
County, the Florida Park Service surveys each State-owned property at 
least once a year to manage for nonnative plants (Werner 2013a-b, pers. 
comm.). Furthermore, Withlacoochee State Forest conducts prescribed 
burning on an annual basis, controlling regional wildfires in dry 
swamps and mesic hammocks.
    Continuing efforts to propagate Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum in-vitro may eventually lead to the establishment of healthy 
populations that can be reintroduced in locations where the taxon once 
occurred or introduced to new areas deemed appropriate. These efforts 
can assist with combating potential or realized impacts from natural 
stochastic events that may harm or destroy existing populations.
Summary of Factor E
    Stochastic events resulting in changes in canopy structure and 
environmental conditions within the taxon's current habitat are 
considered threats to existing and future populations of T. p. ssp. 
floridanum. This is especially alarming since droughts, tropical 
storms, and hurricanes are common occurrences in Florida. Changes 
associated with these events have the potential to limit reproduction 
and compromise overall health in the long term, making plants more 
vulnerable to other stressors (e.g., periodic, long-term droughts, 
hurricanes) or cause extirpations. As few populations remain, the 
entire taxon is at risk of extinction during these events. Climatic 
changes, including SLR, are longer term concerns expected to exacerbate 
existing impacts and ultimately reduce the extent of available habitat 
for T. p. ssp. floridanum.
    The presence of nonnative species, including other plants and feral 
hogs, is also a threat, but may be reduced on public lands due to 
active programs by Miami-Dade County and the State. The majority of the 
remaining populations of this plant are small and geographically 
isolated, and genetic variability is likely low, increasing the 
inherent risk due to overall low resilience of this subspecies. 
Furthermore, the isolated existence of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum makes natural recolonization of extirpated populations 
virtually impossible without human intervention. Although considered 
stressors, wildfires and public use at extant sites are minimal and do 
not rise to the level of a threat.

Cumulative Effects of Threats

    When two or more threats affect Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum occurrences, the effects of those threats could interact or 
become compounded, producing a cumulative adverse effect that is 
greater than the impact of either threat alone. The most obvious cases 
in which cumulative adverse effects would be significant are those in 
which small populations (Factor E) are affected by threats that result 
in destruction or modification of habitat (Factor A). The limited 
distributions and small population sizes of T. p. ssp. floridanum make 
it extremely susceptible to the detrimental effects of further habitat 
modification, degradation, and loss, as well as other anthropogenic 
threats. Mechanisms leading to the decline of this taxon, as discussed 
above, range from local (e.g., hydrology changes, agriculture) to 
regional (e.g., development, fragmentation, nonnative species) to 
global influences (e.g., climate change, SLR). The synergistic effects 
of threats, such as impacts from hurricanes on a species with a limited 
distribution and small populations, make it difficult to predict 
population viability. While these stressors may act in isolation, it is 
more probable that many stressors are acting simultaneously (or in 
combination) on populations of T. p. ssp. floridanum, making this 
subspecies more vulnerable.

Proposed Determination

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and its implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR part 424, set forth the procedures for adding 
species to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and 
Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, we may list a species based 
on (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; or (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its 
continued existence. Listing actions may be warranted based on any of 
the above threat factors, singly or in combination.
    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial data 
available regarding the past, present, and future threats to 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum. T. p. ssp. floridanum has been 
extirpated from the majority of its historical range, and the primary 
threats of habitat destruction and modification resulting from human 
population growth and development, agricultural conversion, regional 
drainage, and resulting changes in canopy and hydrology (Factor A); 
competition from nonnative, invasive species (Factor E); changes in 
climatic conditions, including sea level rise (Factor E); and natural 
stochastic events (Factor E) remain threats for existing populations. 
Existing regulatory mechanisms have

[[Page 61158]]

not led to a reduction or removal of threats posed to the subspecies 
from these factors (see Factor D discussion). These threats are 
ongoing, rangewide, and expected to continue in the future. Populations 
of T. p. ssp. floridanum are relatively small and isolated from one 
another, and their ability to recolonize suitable habitat is unlikely 
without human intervention. Because of the current condition of the 
extant populations and life-history traits of the subspecies, it is 
vulnerable to natural or human-caused changes in its currently occupied 
habitats. The threats have had and will continue to have substantial 
adverse effects on T. p. ssp. floridanum and its habitat. Although 
attempts are ongoing to alleviate or minimize some of these threats at 
certain locations, all populations appear to be impacted by one or more 
threats.
    The Act defines an endangered species as ``any species which is in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range'' and a threatened species as ``any species which is likely to 
become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout 
all or a significant portion of its range.'' As described in detail 
above, this plant is currently at risk throughout all of its range due 
to the immediacy, severity, significance, timing, and scope of those 
threats. Impacts from these threats are ongoing and increasing; singly 
or in combination, these threats place the subspecies in danger of 
extinction. The risk of extinction is high because the populations are 
small, are isolated, and have limited to no potential for 
recolonization. Numerous threats are currently ongoing and are likely 
to continue in the foreseeable future, at a high intensity and across 
the entire range of this subspecies. Furthermore, natural stochastic 
events and changes in climatic conditions pose a threat to the 
persistence of the subspecies, especially in light of the fact these 
events cannot be controlled and mitigation measures have yet to be 
addressed. Individually and collectively, all these threats can 
contribute to the local extirpation and potential extinction of this 
subspecies. Because these threats are placing this subspecies in danger 
of extinction throughout its range, we have determined this plant meets 
the definition of an endangered species. Therefore, on the basis of the 
best available scientific and commercial information, we propose to 
list Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum as an endangered species in 
accordance with sections 3(6) and 4(a)(1) of the Act. We find that a 
threatened species status is not appropriate for T. p. ssp. floridanum 
because of the contracted range of the subspecies and because the 
threats are occurring rangewide, are ongoing, and are expected to 
continue into the future.
    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may 
warrant listing if it is endangered or threatened throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. The threats to the survival of 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum occur throughout the subspecies' 
range and are not restricted to any particular significant portion of 
that range. Accordingly, our assessment and proposed determination 
applies to the subspecies throughout its entire range.

Significant Portion of the Range

    Because we have determined that Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum is an endangered species throughout all of its range, no 
portion of its range can be ``significant'' for purposes of the 
definitions of ``endangered species'' and ``threatened species.'' See 
the Service's SPR Policy (79 FR 37578, July 1, 2014).

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness and 
conservation by Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies; private 
organizations; and individuals. The Act encourages cooperation with the 
States and requires that recovery actions be carried out for all listed 
species. The protection required by Federal agencies and the 
prohibitions against certain activities are discussed, in part, below.
    The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered 
and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The 
ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of these 
listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of 
the Act. Subsection 4(f) of the Act requires the Service to develop and 
implement recovery plans for the conservation of endangered and 
threatened species. The recovery planning process involves the 
identification of actions that are necessary to halt or reverse the 
species' decline by addressing the threats to its survival and 
recovery. The goal of this process is to restore listed species to a 
point where they are secure, self-sustaining, and functioning 
components of their ecosystems.
    Recovery planning includes the development of a recovery outline 
shortly after a species is listed and preparation of a draft and final 
recovery plan. The recovery outline guides the immediate implementation 
of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to develop a 
recovery plan. The plan may be revised to address continuing or new 
threats to the species, as new substantive information becomes 
available. The recovery plan identifies recovery criteria for review of 
when a species may be ready for downlisting (from endangered to 
threatened) or delisting and methods for monitoring recovery progress. 
Recovery plans also establish a framework for agencies to coordinate 
their recovery efforts and provide estimates of the cost of 
implementing recovery tasks. Recovery teams (composed of species 
experts, Federal and State agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and 
stakeholders) are often established to develop recovery plans. If we 
list Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum, when completed, the draft 
and final recovery plans would be available on our Web site (http://www.fws.gov/endangered) or from our South Florida Ecological Services 
Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
    Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the 
participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal 
agencies, States, Tribes, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, 
and private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat 
restoration (e.g., restoration of native vegetation), research, captive 
propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The 
recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on 
Federal lands because their range may occur primarily or solely on non-
Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species requires 
cooperative conservation efforts on private, State, and Tribal lands.
    If this subspecies is listed, funding for recovery actions would be 
available from a variety of sources, including Federal budgets, State 
programs, and cost share grants for non-Federal landowners, the 
academic community, and nongovernmental organizations. In addition, 
pursuant to section 6 of the Act, the State of Florida would be 
eligible for Federal funds to implement management actions that promote 
the protection or recovery of Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum. 
Information on our grant programs that are available

[[Page 61159]]

to aid species recovery can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants.
    Although Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum is only proposed for 
listing under the Act at this time, please let us know if you are 
interested in participating in conservation efforts for this species. 
Additionally, we invite you to submit any new information on this 
species whenever it becomes available and any information you may have 
for conservation planning purposes (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT).
    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their 
actions with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as an 
endangered or threatened species and with respect to its critical 
habitat, if any is designated. Regulations implementing this 
interagency cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR 
part 402. Section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to 
confer with the Service on any action that is likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of a species proposed for listing or result in 
destruction or adverse modification of proposed critical habitat. If a 
species is listed subsequently, section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires 
Federal agencies to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or 
carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the 
species or destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. If a 
Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the 
responsible Federal agency must enter into consultation with the 
Service.
    Federal agency actions within the subspecies' habitat that may 
require conference or consultation or both as described in the 
preceding paragraph include, but are not limited to, federally funded 
or authorized actions such as habitat restoration and control of 
nonnatives and any other landscape-altering activities.
    With respect to endangered plants, prohibitions outlined at 50 CFR 
17.61 make it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the 
United States to import or export, transport in interstate or foreign 
commerce in the course of a commercial activity, sell or offer for sale 
in interstate or foreign commerce, or to remove and reduce to 
possession any such plant species from areas under Federal 
jurisdiction. In addition, for endangered plants, the Act prohibits 
malicious damage or destruction of any such species on any area under 
Federal jurisdiction, and the removal, cutting, digging up, or damaging 
or destroying of any such species on any other area in knowing 
violation of any State law or regulation, or in the course of any 
violation of a State criminal trespass law. Exceptions to these 
prohibitions are outlined in 50 CFR 17.62.
    We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving endangered plants under certain circumstances. Regulations 
governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 17.62. With regard to 
endangered plants, the Service may issue a permit authorizing any 
activity otherwise prohibited by 50 CFR 17.61 for scientific purposes 
or for enhancing the propagation or survival of endangered plants.
    It is our policy, as published in the Federal Register on July 1, 
1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable at 
the time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not 
constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this 
policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of a proposed 
listing on proposed and ongoing activities within the range of the 
species proposed for listing. If we list Trichomanes punctatum ssp. 
floridanum, the following activities could potentially result in a 
violation of section 9 of the Act; this list is not comprehensive:
    (1) Import the subspecies into, or export the subspecies from, the 
United States without authorization;
    (2) Remove and reduce to possession the subspecies from areas under 
Federal jurisdiction; maliciously damage or destroy the subspecies on 
any such area; or remove, cut, dig up, or damage or destroy the 
subspecies on any other area in knowing violation of any law or 
regulation of any State or in the course of any violation of a State 
criminal trespass law;
    (3) Sell or offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce the 
subspecies; except for properly documented antique specimens of the 
taxon at least 100 years old, as defined by section 10(h)(1) of the 
Act;
    (4) Unauthorized delivering, carrying, or transporting of the 
subspecies, including import or export across State lines and 
international boundaries;
    (5) Introduction of nonnative species that compete with or prey 
upon Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum;
    (6) Unauthorized release of biological control agents that attack 
any life stage of this subspecies; and
    (7) Unauthorized manipulation or modification of the habitat where 
Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum is present on Federal lands 
including, but not limited to, unauthorized water withdrawal from 
solution holes and unauthorized removal of canopy.
    At this time, we are unable to identify specific activities that 
would not be considered to result in a violation of section 9 of the 
Act because Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum occurs in a variety 
of habitat conditions across its range and it is likely that site-
specific conservation measures may be needed for activities that may 
directly or indirectly affect the subspecies.
    Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a 
violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the South 
Florida Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT).
Critical Habitat
    Section 3(5)(A) of the Act defines critical habitat as ``(i) the 
specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species, at 
the time it is listed . . . on which are found those physical or 
biological features (I) Essential to the conservation of the species 
and (II) which may require special management considerations or 
protection; and (ii) specific areas outside the geographical area 
occupied by the species at the time it is listed . . . upon a 
determination by the Secretary that such areas are essential for the 
conservation of the species.'' Section 3(3) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1532(3)) also defines the terms ``conserve,'' ``conserving,'' and 
``conservation'' to mean ``to use and the use of all methods and 
procedures which are necessary to bring any endangered species or 
threatened species to the point at which the measures provided pursuant 
to this chapter are no longer necessary.''
    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing 
regulations (50 CFR 424.12), require that, to the maximum extent 
prudent and determinable, the Secretary shall designate critical 
habitat at the time the species is determined to be an endangered or 
threatened species. Our regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)) state that 
the designation of critical habitat is not prudent when one or both of 
the following situations exist:
    (1) The species is threatened by taking or other human activity, 
and identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the 
degree of threat to the species, or
    (2) such designation of critical habitat would not be beneficial to 
the species.
    As discussed in the Factor B analysis (see above), there is 
currently no imminent threat of take attributed to collection or 
vandalism for this species, and identification and mapping of critical 
habitat is not expected to initiate any such threat. Therefore, in the

[[Page 61160]]

absence of finding that the designation of critical habitat would 
increase threats to a species, if there are any benefits to a critical 
habitat designation, a finding that designation is prudent is 
warranted. Here, the potential benefits of designation include: (1) 
Triggering consultation under section 7 of the Act, in new areas for 
actions in which there may be a Federal nexus where it would not 
otherwise occur because, for example, it is unoccupied; (2) focusing 
conservation activities on the most essential features and areas; (3) 
providing educational benefits to State or county governments or 
private entities; and (4) preventing people from causing inadvertent 
harm to the species.
    Because we have determined that the designation of critical habitat 
will not likely increase the degree of threat to the species and may 
provide some measure of benefit, we determine that designation of 
critical habitat is prudent for Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum.
    Our regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(2)) further state that critical 
habitat is not determinable when one or both of the following 
situations exists: (1) Information sufficient to perform required 
analysis of the impacts of the designation is lacking; or (2) the 
biological needs of the species are not sufficiently well known to 
permit identification of an area as critical habitat.
    Our regulations at 50 CFR 424.19 require the Service to ``make 
available for public comment the draft economic analysis of the 
designation'' at the time the proposed critical habitat rule is 
published in the Federal Register. At this point, a careful assessment 
of the economic impacts that may occur due to a critical habitat 
designation is still ongoing, and we are still in the process of 
acquiring the information needed to perform this assessment. 
Accordingly, we find designation of critical habitat for Trichomanes 
punctatum ssp. floridanum to be not determinable at this time.

Required Determinations

Clarity of the Rule

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the 
Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain 
language. This means that each rule we publish must:
    (1) Be logically organized;
    (2) Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    (3) Use clear language rather than jargon;
    (4) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    (5) Use lists and tables wherever possible.
    If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us 
comments by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. To 
better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as 
possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections 
or paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences 
are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be 
useful, etc.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental 
impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act need not be prepared in connection with 
listing a species as an endangered or threatened species under the Act. 
We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in 
the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994 
(Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 
Governments; 59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and 
Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments), and the Department of the 
Interior's manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our 
responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal 
tribes on a government-to-government basis. In accordance with 
Secretarial Order 3206 of June 5, 1997 (American Indian Tribal Rights, 
Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act), 
we readily acknowledge our responsibilities to work directly with 
tribes in developing programs for healthy ecosystems, to acknowledge 
that tribal lands are not subject to the same controls as Federal 
public lands, to remain sensitive to Indian culture, and to make 
information available to tribes. We are not aware of any Trichomanes 
punctatum ssp. floridanum populations on tribal lands.

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available 
on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the 
South Florida Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this proposed rule are the staff members of 
the South Florida Ecological Services Field Office.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter 
I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below:

PART 17--[AMENDED]

0
1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245, unless otherwise noted.

0
2. Amend Sec.  17.12(h) by adding an entry for ``Trichomanes punctatum 
ssp. floridanum'' to the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants in 
alphabetical order under FERNS AND ALLIES to read as follows:


Sec.  17.12  Endangered and threatened plants.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

[[Page 61161]]



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Species
--------------------------------------------------------    Historic range           Family            Status      When listed    Critical     Special
         Scientific name                Common name                                                                               habitat       rules
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
FERNS AND ALLIES
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Trichomanes punctatum ssp.         Florida bristle fern  U.S.A. (FL)........  Hymenophyllaceae...  E                                     NA          NA.
 floridanum.
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *

    Dated: September 26, 2014.
 Rowan W. Gould,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-23686 Filed 10-8-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P