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The Endangered Species Act has been enlisted to preserve a rare species of Central Texas aquatic moss

Friday, April 28, 2023 by Bob Sechler

A type of aquatic moss has been added to the list of endangered species in Central Texas. The South Llano Springs moss (or Donrichardsia macroneuron, if you prefer the scientific name) has been officially listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week. The last known occurrence of the species is in a privately owned spring with constant flows of mineral-rich water along the South Llano River, the agency said. The moss faces a variety of threats – including the pumping of groundwater from the Edwards-Trinity Aquifer, increasingly severe weather, encroaching non-native plants, herbicide use and reduced water quality. It now occurs “only in one small population at a remote spring site on the South Llano River, making it vulnerable to catastrophic events like drought and floods,” said Karen Myers, a supervisor at the agency’s Ecological Services Field Office in Austin. “By protecting this species under the (Endangered Species Act), we can help preserve the unique biodiversity of this ecosystem and generate conservation partnerships that benefit all of the plants and wildlife that depend on this water resource.” The Fish and Wildlife Service said it plans to continue collaborating with local landowners and organizations to improve rangeland and vegetation management within the aquifer’s recharge zone and the upper South Llano River watershed, as well as to help conserve water in the aquifer.

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