Compiled by:
Marc Epstein and Boyd Blihovde
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Updated : October 23, 2002

Return to home page.

Listed species are plants or animals that have been "listed" by a State and/or Federal agency with special protection or conservation designations. Included on this list are species designated by non-governmental agencies that do not provide regulatory protection (see below). Those species with regulatory protection are protected by law, such as State and Federal Endangered and Threatened species. State Species of Special Concern (SSC) and Commercially Exploited are afforded special protection, recognition, or consideration (Florida Administrative Code 39-1.004 and Chapter HYPERLINK "" 5B-40 ). Birds of Conservation Concern are those migratory and non-migratory bird species (not already listed as Federally Threatened or Endangered) with the highest conservation priority (USFWS 2002). Brief explanations of species designations are listed below. Definitions of species designations and status are listed in Appendix 1.

Types of Designations Used in this List:

Agencies and Organizations Listing Species

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDA)
US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS)
Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI)
Florida Committee on Rare and Endangered Plants and Animals (FCREPA)

Listing Designation

Similarity of Appearance T(S/A) means the species is similar in appearance to a threatened taxon. The American alligator in this case with the American crocodile, but the alligator is not a threatened species under the meaning or intent of the threatened designation.

Endangered (E) means "without special management efforts, these species are considered rare enough to become extinct." (Federal and State)

Threatened (T) means "without special management efforts, these species are likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future." (Federal and State)

Species of Special Concern (SSC) means that the species warrants special protection because of concern that it could become threatened. (State; see Sullivan 2004))

Birds of Conservation Concern (BCC) replaced the Nongame Birds of Management Concern (SMC). These birds have the highest conservation concern for the US Fish and Wildlife Service (other than the birds listed as Federally Threatened or Endangered) (Federal; see USFWS 2002).

Rare (R) means the species is considered rare by the Florida Committee on Rare and Endangered Plants and Animals (non-government).

Commercially Exploited (C) means plants that are protect due to Commercial Exploitation.

Rare (R) means the species is considered rare by the Florida Committee on Rare and Endangered Plants and Animals (non-government).

FNAI means that the species has been ranked by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (non-government).

FCREPA means the species is listed by Florida Committee on Rare and Endangered Plants and Animals (non-government).

This list is based on species with a Federal, State, or non-government designation; it is not a comprehensive list of species for the refuge. There are 125 unique species included under this list: 1 fish, 1 amphibian, 10 reptiles, 69 birds, 6 mammals, and 38 plants. There may be species in Florida that are protected but not listed here because the species either has not been confirmed or has been extirpated from the refuge. This list includes species that are considered "rare" and do not occur on the refuge every year or there have been incidental reports (see Literature Cited section). The total number of "listed" species presently known to exist or regularly occur on the Merritt Island NWR are categorized (Tables 1 and 2).

Among the 125 species listed here, 50 are listed as State or Federal Threatened or Endangered plants and animals (22 animals and 28 plants) and 5 are plants that are listed by the State as "Commercially Exploited" (Table 3). There are no known Federally listed plants on the refuge and all listing for plant are State designations. Of the total listed animal species, 17 are Federally listed. However, 7 of these species (American alligator, Kemp's ridley sea turtle, Hawksbill sea turtle, Atlantic salt marsh snake, snail kite, Audubon's cara cara and roseate tern) either have a special listing (i.e., alligator) or have rarely been recorded on the refuge. This brings the actual number of State or Federally-listed species that presently occur on the refuge to 41; 10 Federal and 31 State species (excludes alligator; includes 28 plant species) (Table 2). There are 10 Federally and 3 State listed animal species (13 total State or Federal) that presently occur on the refuge. A total of 94 species that presently occur on the refuge have a Federal or State designation (i.e., T, E, BCC, SSC, or C). Annotated species records of rare sightings (16 species) are included on this list, however, these rare species may not actually be a functional component of the wildlife community on the refuge and may only be the results of incidental sightings. Additionally, rare non-federally listed species, such as the Florida black bear, Limpkin, Roseate tern, and others are also listed but may have limited distribution or activity on the refuge. Species that are rare or have only had incidental sightings are footnoted to this effect. They are removed from the final calculation.

There are 56 animal species designated as species of "Special Concern" by State or Federal agencies (designated BCC or SSC). There are 33 plant species listed by the State as Threatened, Endangered, or Commercially Exploited. Included in the list are 22 additional plant species that have special designations (e.g., UR, FNAI, CITES, or FCREPA). Some plant species may have both a State and special designation.

Table 1. State or Federally designated plants and animals that have been recorded on Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Species Federal State Commercially

Fishes 0 0 0
0 0 1 0
Amphibians 0 0 0
0 0 1 0
Reptiles 4 4 0
5 2 3 0
Birds 2 5 42
3 8 12 0
Mammals 1 1 0
1 2 1 0
Plants 0 0 0
17 11 0 5
Total Recorded 7 10 42
26 23 18 5

Table 2. Number State and Federally Threatened and Endangered species that presently occur on the Refuge.

T & E Species Presently Occurring Fish Amphibians Reptiles Birds Mammals Plants TOTAL 
Number of Federal 0 0 4 4 2 0 10
Number of State and Federal 0 0 4 7 2 28 41

Table 3. Listed Species of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Agency Status
Scientific Names Common Names FWC FWS FCREPA FNAI 9
Fish (1)
Centropomus undecimalis Common snook SSC * * *
Amphibians (1)
Rana capito Gopher frog SSC * T G3G4S3
Reptiles (10)
Alligator Mississippiensis American alligator 1 SSC T(S/A) * G5S4
Caretta caretta Loggerhead E T T S3
Chelonia mydas Green turtle E E E S2
Dermochelys coriacea Leatherback E E R S2
Lepidochelys kempi Kemp's ridley 3, 5 E E E S1
Eretmochelys imbricata Hawksbill 3, 5 E E E S1
Gopherus polyphemus Gopher tortoise SSC * T S3
Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus Florida pine snake 4 SSC * SSC G5T3S3
Nerodia clarkii taeniata Atlantic saltmarsh snake 2, 5 T T E G4T1S1
Drymarchon couperi Eastern indigo snake T T SSC G4T3S3

Agency Status
Scientific Names Common Names FWC FWS FCREPA FNAI
Birds 6, 7 (69)
Spizella pusilla Field sparrow * BCC * *
Ammodramus henslowii Henslow's sparrow 5 * BCC * *
Aimophila aestivalis Bachman's sparrow * BCC * G3S3
Passerina ciris Painted bunting * BCC * G5S3
Sturnella magna Eastern meadowlark * BCC * *
Dolichonyx oryzivorous Bobolink * BCC * *
Dendroica discolor Prairie warbler * BCC * G5T3S3
Dendroica pensylvanica Chestnut-sided warbler * BCC * *
Lymnothylpis swainsonii Swainson's warbler 5 * BCC * *
Vireo altiloguus Black-whiskered vireo * BCC R G5S3
Lanius ludovicianus Loggerhead shrike * BCC * *
Cistothorus platenis Sedge wren * BCC * *
Hylocichla mustelina Wood thrush * BCC * *
Catharus fuscescens Veery * BCC * *
Colaptes auratus Northern flicker * BCC * *
Aphelocoma coerulescens Florida scrub-jay T T T G2S2
Aramus guarauna Limpkin 5 SSC BCC SSC G5S3
Charadrius melodus Piping plover T T E G3S2
Botaurus lentiginosus American bittern * BCC * *
Ixobrychus exilis Least bittern * BCC SSC G5S4
Egretta caerulea Little blue heron SSC * SSC G5S4
Egretta rufescens Reddish egret SSC BCC R G4S2
Egretta thula Snowy egret SSC * SSC G5S3
Egretta tricolor Tricolored heron SSC * SSC G5S4
Eudocimus albus White ibis SSC * SSC G5S4
Polyborus plancus audubonii Audubon's crested caracara 5, 7 T T T G5S2LTLT
Falco peregrinus Peregrine falcon E * E G4S2
Rosthrhramus sociabilis Snail kite 5, 7 E E E G4G5T2S2
Elanoides forficatus Swallow-tailed kite * BCC T G5S2
Circus cyaneus Northern harrier * BCC * *
Grus canadensis pratensis Florida sandhill crane T * T G5T2T3S2S3
Haematopus palliatus American oystercatcher SSC * T G5S2
Mycteria americana Wood stork E E E G4S2
Gavia immer Common loon * BCC * *
Pelecanus occidentalis Brown pelican SSC BCC T G4S3
Laterallus jamaicensis Black rail * BCC R G4S2
Rynchops niger Black skimmer SSC * SSC G5S3
Sterna antillarum Least tern T BCC T G4S3
Sterna dougallii Roseate tern 5 T T T G4S1
Chilidonias niger Black tern * BCC * *
Tyto alba Barn owl * BCC * *
Asio flammeus Short-eared owl * BCC * *
Haliaeetus leucocephalus Bald eagle T T T G4S3
Caprimulgus carolinensis Chuck-will's-widow * BCC * *
Puffinus Iherminieri Audubon's shearwater 5 * BCC * *
Fregata magnificens Magnificent frigatebird 5 * BCC T G5S1
Melanerpes erythrocephalus Red-headed woodpecker * BCC * *
Falco sparverius paulus Southeastern American kestrel 5 T BCC T G5T4S3
Dendroica petechia (only gundlachi sub spp.) Yellow warbler * BCC R G5T4S3
Dendroica dominica Yellow-throated warbler * BCC * *
Numenius phaeopus Whimbrel * BCC * *
Ammodramus maritimus Seaside sparrow SSC BCC SSC G4TS
Calidris canutus Red knot * BCC * *
Calidris pusilla Semipalmated sandpiper * BCC * *
Limnodromus griseus Short-billed dowitcher * BCC * *
Sterna nilotica Gull-billed tern * BCC * G5S2
Sterna hirundo Common tern * BCC * *
Casmerodius albus Great egret * * SSC *
Nycticorax nycticorax Black-crowned night- heron * * SSC *
Nycticorax violacea Yellow-crowned night- heron * * SSC *
Plegadis falcinellus Glossy ibis SSC * SSC *
Accipiter cooperii Cooper's hawk * * SSC *
Recurvirostra americana American avocet * * SSC *
Sterna fuscata Sooty tern 5 * * SSC *
Sterna maxima Royal tern * * SSC *
Sterna sandvicensis Sandwich tern * * SSC *
Sterna caspia Caspian tern * * SSC *
Picoides villosus Hairy woodpecker 5 * * SSC *
Cictothorus palustris Marsh wren SSC * SSC *

Agency Status
Scientific Names Common Names FWC FWS FCREPA FNAI 9
Mammals (6)
Peromyscus polionotus niveiventris Southeastern beach mouse T T T G5T1S1
Podomys floridanus Florida mouse SSC * T G3S3
Trichechus manatus West Indian manatee E E E G2S2
Ursus americanus floridanus Florida black bear 5 T * T G5T2S2
Neofiber alleni Round-tailed muskrat * * SSC *
Mustela frenata peninsulae Florida weasel 5 * * R *

Agency Status
Scientific Names Common Names FWC FWS FCREPA FNAI 9
Plants 8 (38)
Asclepias curtissii Curtiss milkweed * E * G3, S3
Avicennia germinans Black mangrove * * SSC *
Calamovilfa curtissii Curtiss reedgrass * T * G1G2,S1S2
Calopogon multiflorus Many-flowered grass pink * E * *
Chamaesyce cumulicola Sand dune spurge * E * G2,S2
Chrysophyllum oliviforme Satinleaf * T * *
Encyclia tampensis Butterfly orchid * C * *
Epidendrum canopseum Greenfly orchid * C * *
Harrisella filiformis Threadroot orchid * T * *
Hexalectris spicata Crested coralroot * E * *
Lantana depressa var. floridana East coast lantana * E * G2T2, S2
Lechea cernua Nodding pinweed * T * G3, S3
Lechea divaricata Pine pinweed * E * G2, S2
Lilium catesbaei Catesby lily * T * G4, S3
Myrcianthes fragrans Nakedwood * T * G4T3, S3
Nemastylis floridana Celestial lily * E * G2, S2
Ophioglossum palmatum
(= Cheiroglossa palmata)
Hand fern * E E G5, S2
Opuntia stricta Shell mound prickly-pear * T * *
Osmunda cinnamomea Cinnamon fern * C * *
Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis Royal fern * C * *
Pavonia spinifex Yellow hibiscus *  * * G4G5, S2S3
Peclumula plumula (=Polypodium plumula) Plume polypody * E * *
Peperomia humilis Peperomia * E * G5, S2
Peperomia obtusifolia Florida peperomia * E * G5, S2
Persea borbonia var. humilis Scrub bay *  * * G3, S3
Pogonia ophioglossoides Rose pogonia * T * *
Pteroglossaspis ecristata (= Eulophia ecristata) False coco * T * G2G3, S2
Remirea maritima (= Cyperus pedunculatus) Beach-star * E * *
Rhizophora mangle Red mangrove *  * SSC *
Scaevola plumieri Scaevola * T * *
Sophora tomentosa Necklace pod *   * G4, S3
Spiranthes laciniata Lace-lip ladies'-tresses * T *  *
Tephrosia angustissima var. curtissii Narrow-leaved hoary pea; coastal hoary pea * E * G1T1, S1
Tillandsia fasciculata Common pine * E * *
Tillandsia utriculata Giant wild pine; giant air plant * E * *
Verbena maritima (= Glandularia maritima) Coastal vervain * E * G2, S2
Verbena tampensis (= Glandularia tampensis) Tampa vervain * E * G1, S1
Zamia umbrosa (= Zamia pumila) East coast coontie * C T *

  1. (S/A) means species was listed due to "similarity of appearance" with the American crocodile. The species is not listed in regards to regulatory actions of Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act and is not in danger of becoming extinct (D. Palmer, FWS, personal communication)
  2. Within species home range area, not officially recorded on the Refuge (Moler 1992, Blihovde 1996, Seigel and Seigel 2000).
  3. see Ehrhart (1983)
  4. R. Seigel (personal communication)
  5. Species which have been recorded on the Refuge but are rarely seen. These species may not be a functional component of the vertebrate wildlife on the refuge
  6. US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2002
  7. Merritt Island NWR, unpublished data
  8. Plants list after Schmalzer et al. 2002
  9. Florida Natural Area Inventory. 2002

Appendix 1: FNAI - Florida Natural Areas Inventory Ranking and Status Definitions

Florida Resources and Environmental Analysis Center
1018 Thomasville Road, Suite 200-C
Tallahassee, Florida 32303
Phone: (850) 224-8207





Provided by FNAI for information only.
For official definitions and lists of protected species, consult the relevant federal agency. Definitions derived from U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973, Sec. 3. Note that the federal status given by FNAI refers only to Florida populations and that federal status may differ elsewhere.



Provided by FNAI for information only.
For official definitions and lists of protected species, consult the relevant agency. Animals:  Definitions derived from "Florida's Endangered Species and Species of Special Concern, Official Lists" published by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 1 August 1997, and subsequent updates.

  Plants:  Definitions derived from Sections 581.011 and 581.185(2), Florida Statutes, and the Preservation of Native Flora of Florida Act, 5B-40.001. FNAI does not track all state-regulated plant species; for a complete list of state-regulated plant species, call Florida Division of Plant Industry, 352-372-3505 or see:

9     Explanations and definitions to the ranking system were copied from the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) website. For additional information on FNAI species status and ranking, please contact FNAI or see

Literature Cited:


We thank Jim Lyons (FWS), Becky Smith (Dynamac Corp.), Paul Schmalzer (Dynamac Corp.) and Cheri Ehrhardt (FWS) for making helpful comments to the draft document.

Return to home page.