Festuca ligulata - Swallen
Guadalupe Fescue
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Festuca ligulata Swallen (TSN 40803)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.133670
Element Code: PMPOA2V0K0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Grass Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Cyperales Poaceae Festuca
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Festuca ligulata
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 28Jul2015
Global Status Last Changed: 06May1988
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Currently (2015) known only from two extant populations, one in Big Bend National Park, Texas and one in nearby Maderas del Carmen, Coahuila, Mexico. The Texas population is small (fewer than 150 individuals) but is being monitored and actively protected. The extant Mexican population is on private conservation land, was visited in 2003 and described as being large. The status of plants at a second collection site in Coahuila is not known, and a historically known Texas site, in the Guadalupe Mountains, has not been relocated despite attempts in 2002.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Texas (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (07Sep2017)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R2 - Southwest

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Currently known only from one population in western Texas in the higher mountains of the Trans-Pecos (Gould 1975) and one extant site nearby in Maderas del Carmen, Coahuila, Mexico (FWS 2004). There is another site in Coahuila but the status of that population is unknown; Joe Sirotnak (pers. comm. 2006) believes that only the collectors of the single specimen have been to that site and only on the one occasion when it was collected. The species was also historically reported in the Guadalupe Mountains, but has not been relocated there despite efforts in 2002 (Delmatier 2002, Joe Sirotnak, pers. comm., 2006).

Area of Occupancy: 1-5 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5
Number of Occurrences Comments: Currently known extant at two sites: one in Texas and one nearby in Mexico.

Population Size Comments: As of January 2013 the Texas population is estimated at less than 200 individuals. The single Mexican population known extant in 2003 (near Pico Centinela in the Maderas del Carmen) was described as being large (USFWS 2014).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: None to very few (0-3)

Overall Threat Impact: High - medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: The Texas population is located in Big Bend National Park where it is being monitored annually (FWS 2004). A previous report (FWS 2004) that indicated that there is some potential threat from new trails in the park is not accurate; the plants are not in the proposed trail reroute area (Joe Sirotnak, pers. comm., 2006). A trail currently bisects the population and the plants are subject to occasional light trampling by hikers and horses (FWS 2004). The more pervasive, longer-term threat to this species may be from fire suppression. The Texas population is currently under a fairly dense canopy (FWS 2004) and there is some speculation that the plants may need periodic light fire or other canopy-opening disturbance to persist (BBNP and FWS 1998, FWS 2004). Joe Sirotnak (pers. comm., 2006) suspects that low intensity fires would improve the habitat and notes that very small scale fires (<5% of known habitat) are being planned to assess fire survivorship and recruitment.
The only other population currently (2006) believed extant is located in Mexico in a protected natural area owned by a private company (J. Sirotnak, pers. comm. to FWS, 2004). Threats to the other Mexican population, if extant, are not known. Other threats could include grazing by introduced herbivores and competition from invasive species (USFWS 2014).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Fluctuations in plant numbers at sites seems to be tied to wet and dry years. Overall, the site in TX seems stable but fluctuates depending on climatic conditions (USFWS 2014). One of the populations known in Mexico is located in a privately protected natural area (owned by a cement manufacturer) and was reported extant in 2004 (FWS 2004), and so is presumed somewhat stable. The status of the other Mexican population is not known, and the species is known only historically from another area of Texas (the Guadalupe Mountains).

Long-term Trend: Decline of <70% to Relatively Stable
Long-term Trend Comments: This species is only known from a few sites and presumably was never very common or abundant. However, some evidence points to declines. It was historically reported in the Guadalupe Mountains, but has not been relocated at that site (Delmatier 2002). The extant Texas population exhibited a general decline in previous years' monitoring (although it is now thought to be increasing). There is some speculation that fire suppression in these high elevation woodlands may have caused declines in the past (and may still be a problem).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Currently known only from one population in western Texas in the higher mountains of the Trans-Pecos (Gould 1975) and one extant site nearby in Maderas del Carmen, Coahuila, Mexico (FWS 2004). There is another site in Coahuila but the status of that population is unknown; Joe Sirotnak (pers. comm. 2006) believes that only the collectors of the single specimen have been to that site and only on the one occasion when it was collected. The species was also historically reported in the Guadalupe Mountains, but has not been relocated there despite efforts in 2002 (Delmatier 2002, Joe Sirotnak, pers. comm., 2006).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States TX

Range Map
No map available.

National Distribution Outside of U.S. & Canada: Mexico

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
TX Brewster (48043), Culberson (48109)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
13 Big Bend (13040205)+, Upper Pecos-Black (13060011)+*, Delaware (13070002)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A perennial grass, 5-8 dm tall, with a few-branched inflorescence with drooping spikelets. Flowers August-September.
Duration: PERENNIAL
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest/Woodland, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: Occurs in Pine-oak-juniper woodlands of talus slopes above 1830 m elevation (USFWS 2014).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 28Jul2015
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: K. Maybury (2006), rev. A. Treher (2015)

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Big Bend National Park (BBNP) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1998. Conservation agreement for Castilleja elongata (tall paintbrush) and Festuca ligulata (Guadalupa fescue). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Austin, Texas.

  • Burgess, T.L., and D.K. Northington. 1979. Plants of the Guadalupe Mountains and Carlsbad Caverns National Parks; an annotated checklist. Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute Publication Number 107.

  • Correll, D.S., and M.C. Johnston. 1970. Manual of the vascular plants of Texas. Texas Research Foundation, Renner. 1881 pp.

  • Delmatier, C. 2002. Candidate and listing priority assignment form: Festuca ligulata. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Austin Field Office, Austin, Texas.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2007a. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 24. Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, part 1. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxviii + 911 pp.

  • Gould, F.W. 1975. The grasses of Texas. Texas A & M Univ. Press, College Station, TX. 653 pp.

  • Higgins, L.C. 1989. Guadalupe Mountains National Park threatened and endangered and exotic plant surveys. Report prepared for Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

  • Hitchcock, A.S. 1951. Manual of the grasses of the United States. 2nd edition revised by Agnes Chase. [Reprinted, 1971, in 2 vols., by Dover Publications, Incorporated, New York.]

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Poole, J.M. 1989. Status report on Festuca ligulata. Report prepared for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

  • Poole, Jackie M., W. R. Carr, D. M. Price, and J. R. Singhurst. 2007. Rare plants of Texas. Texas A&M University Press, College Station. 640 pp.

  • Powell, A.M. 1994. Grasses of the Trans-Pecos and adjacent areas. Univ. Texas, 377 pp.

  • Seawell, B. 2005. October-last update. Species assessment and listing priority assignment form: Festuca ligulata. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Program. Online. Available: http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/candforms_pdf/r2/Q0UM_P01.pdf (accessed 24 August 2007).

  • Silveus, W.A. 1933. Texas grasses. Privately published, San Antonio, Texas. 782 pp.

  • Swallen, J.R. 1932. Five new grasses from Texas. Amer. J. Botany 19: 436-440.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2004. Species assessment and listing priority assignment form: Festuca ligulata. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2016. Endangered Species Status for Guadalupe Fescue. Proposed Rule. Federal Register 81(175): 62450-62455.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2017. Endangered Species Status for Guadalupe Fescue; Designation of Critical Habitat for Guadalupe Fescue. Final Rule. Federal Register 82(172): 42245-42260.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife. 2014. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Species Assessment and Listing Priority Assignment Form: Festuca ligulata. Available online: http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/candidate/assessments/2014/r2/Q0UM_P01.pdf.

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