CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
October 6, 2005
STUDY FINDS HUNDREDS OF IMPERILED SPECIES IN PUGET SOUND BASIN
COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW IDENTIFIES OVER 7,000 SPECIES IN PUGET SOUND BASIN—MORE THAN 31 INDIVIDUAL STATES—OF WHICH 14% ARE IMPERILED
October 6, 2005. In the most exhaustive survey of the status of Puget Sound biodiversity to date, the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the San Juan Islands meticulously combed regional and national taxa guides, state and provincial databases, published literature and other sources to determine the total number of species in the Puget Sound Basin. Once a species list for the Puget Sound was established, the Center reviewed state, national and global lists of imperiled species and available literature to identify imperiled species present in the Puget Sound.
This comprehensive review determined the Basin is home to over 7,000 species, more than 31 individual states including Hawaii, New York, and Alaska. The study determined that 957 (14%) of these species are imperiled, of which as many as 19 are extinct in the Puget Sound.
“The Puget Sound is home to an amazingly diverse array of wildlife from the charismatic Orca to the diminutive Island Marble butterfly,” states Noah Greenwald, conservation biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Unfortunately, this diversity is threatened by a multitude of factors, including pollution, logging and urban sprawl.”
The study determined that the key threat to wildlife in the Puget Sound is habitat loss from urban and agricultural sprawl, logging, and other factors. Wildlife threatened by habitat loss include familiar species like the Northern Spotted Owl threatened by logging of its old-growth forest habitat, to the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly that is threatened by loss of Puget Prairies, of which there are less than 3% remaining. Other serious threats to Puget Sound Basin wildlife include pollution, invasive species, global warming and direct exploitation.
“Restoring Puget Sound should be a top national environmental priority, much the same as the Everglades, the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay,” states Stephanie Buffum Field, executive director of Friends of the San Juans. “Protecting habitats—the places where plants and animals live—is the key to saving the Puget Sound’s precious wildlife for future generations.”
The study identified key habitats for saving the Puget Sound’s rich biodiversity, including old-growth forests, Puget Prairies, shorelines and estuaries, alpine meadows, rivers and wetlands, and the marine environments of the Sound itself. Each of these habitats harbors unique species that are at risk of being lost forever without swift action. To this end, the study recommends mapping, protecting and managing the last best places for species and their habitats in the Puget Sound. .
“The Puget Sound is currently home to 17 federally listed threatened or endangered species and 13 candidates for listing,” states Noah Greenwald. “If swift action isn’t taken to protect key Puget Sound habitats, many more of the 957 imperiled species identified in this study will require similar protection.”