Endangered, Extinct, and Exotic Animals

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Endangered, Extinct, and Exotic Animals
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2013 (Trial)
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Endangered, Extinct, and Exotic Animals was a new trial event for both Division B and Division C in New York and Texas for the 2013 season, and is scheduled to be run as a trial event at the 2015 National Competition. Also known as Triple E or EEE, it tests competitors on their knowledge of endangered, extinct, and exotic animals. As well as identification, questions may be given on the causes and effects of changes in biodiversity and the effects the introduction of invasive species have on environments.

Contents

Event Overview

Competitors are expected to recognize all of the organisms on the official taxa list, which can be found on the second page of this document: [1]. Of these organisms, competitors are expected to know possible reasons as to why endangered and extinct animals reached their individual respective status, how introduced and invasive species were likely introduced to an area, and how their introduction could impact the area's biodiversity.

This event is given either in timed stations, as a test, or as a PowerPoint. Students are given either pictures or information for identification purposes and then asked questions about the specific organisms. Twenty 3”x5” index cards, with no published information or photographs, held together by a single ring, are the only materials allowed.

New York Version

For New York, questions will be limited to the species on the official New York List, which can be found on the second and third pages of these documents: Division B-[2] Division C-[3]. Each team is allowed one secure three ring binder with any information (from any sources).

Texas Version

In Texas, questions will be limited to the species on the official Texas List, which can be found on the third and fourth page of this document: Division B-[4]. Twenty-five 3”x5” index cards, with no published information or photographs, held together by a single ring, are the only materials allowed.


NOTE: All following species are from the National list.

Fishes

Topeka Shiner (Notropis topeka)

STATUS: ENDANGERED

LISTED 15 DECEMBER 1998

The Topeka Shiner is a small minnow that lives in the prairie streams of the central United States. It is a shiny silver color and has a characteristic black colored stripe running along the side of its body. The states it lives in include Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The prairie streams it lives in are typically slow moving, have good water quality, and have a cool to moderate temperature. Instead of building their own nests, Topeka shiners share nests with orange-spotted or green sunfish. The main threat to these fish is changes to the water in which they live. Any activity, such as building projects, that increases silt is dangerous to the fish, as their food source and eggs can be buried.

Pallid Sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus)

STATUS: ENDANGERED

LISTED 6 SEPTEMBER 1990

The pallid sturgeon has a flattened snout, long tail, rows of bony plates, and grayish white back and sides, giving it a dinosaur-like appearance. They do not have teeth; instead, they suck up small fish and invertebrates from the river bottom. It can weigh up to 80 pounds and reach 6 feet in length. They live close to the bottoms of large, silty rivers such as the Missouri River, where they are now scarce. Males reach sexual maturity in 7-9 years, while females reach sexual maturity in 7-15 years. Pallid sturgeons are estimated to be able to live for up to 50 years. Reasons for their decline include channelizing of their river habitat, dams, and commercial fishing.

Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula)

STATUS: VULNERABLE

LISTED 30 APRIL 2004

Paddlefish are primitive fish that inhabit large, slow-moving, freshwater rivers such as the Mississippi River. They have been in North America since the Cretaceous Period (65 million years ago). Similarly to sharks, their skeleton is made of cartilage, not bone, and are characterized by a large, elongated rostrum. They are an average of 1.5 m long (4.9 ft), weigh up to 27 kg (60 lb), and can live at least 30 years. Paddlefish are filter feeders that mainly feed on plankton (planktivorous). The main reason of their decline is overfishing and habitat destruction, but they are also exploited for their eggs, which can be used to make caviar. Additionally, zebra mussel infestations can filter out all of the plankton, causing the fish to have a very limited diet.

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (Thunnas thynnus)

STATUS: ENDANGERED

LISTED 18 FEBRUARY 2011

The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is one of the largest species of tuna, weighing up to 1500 pounds, reaching 10 feet in length, and living up to 30 years. Their body can be described as a spindle shape, with a pointed snout. The belly, sides, and cheeks are silvery, while the dorsal side is a dark blue. Although it can contain high levels of mercury and PCBs, the bluefin is prized in sushi for its high oil content. One of its unique adaptations is called a "concurrent exchanger": a type of blood vessel that allows this fish to maintain a body temperature that is higher than the ocean's. This allows it to move quickly, and is one reason why it is an apex predator. Its diet consists of fish like herring and anchovy, and sometimes cephalopods. The main reason for the bluefin's decline is overfishing, because of the high price it can fetch, and oil spills such as the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Sharks

NOTE: Questions are about shark species as a whole, not individual species.

Sharks are a group of fish in the class Chondrichthyes characterized by a cartilaginous skeleton, 5-7 gill slits, and pectoral fins not fused to the head. Most sharks, except those like the bull/river shark, live in seawater; the bull and river shark live in freshwater. They have dermal denticles (essentially small "teeth" on their skin) that prevent parasites and improve fluid dynamics. Sharks have teeth that are replaced throughout their lives. They have well developed senses of taste and smell. They are endangered mainly due to overfishing for commercial and recreational reasons, but are sometimes culled to "protect" humans.

Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua)

STATUS: VULNERABLE

LISTED 1 AUGUST 1998

The Atlantic cod is a greenish-brown fish with a light lateral line, a noticeable barbel, and 3 prominent dorsal and 2 prominent anal fins. They can live up to 25 years, becoming sexually mature around years 2-4. The Atlantic cod is an apex predator, feeding mainly on crustaceans and fish such as mackerel. Due to overfishing, the population of cod has collapsed. As a result of a lack of a predator, the cod's prey's populations have increased.

Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar)

STATUS: LEAST CONCERN

LISTED 1 AUGUST 1998

The Atlantic salmon, also known as black salmon, is the longest and heaviest fish of the genus Salmo. While living in freshwater, they have blue and red spots; as an adult, they are silvery-blue and have characteristic black spots above the lateral line. The young feed on invertebrates such as stoneflies; as adults, they feed on herring, shrimp, Arctic squid, and more. Although most Atlantic salmon travel to the ocean then travel back to freshwater to spawn (salmon run), there have been documented cases of freshwater-only Atlantic salmon. These fish were overfished for commercial and recreational purposes, but are beginning to re-establish populations.

Blue Marlin (Makaira nigricans)

STATUS: VULNERABLE

LISTED 15 SEPTEMBER 2010

The blue marlin (also known as Atlantic blue marlin) has a blue-black top with a silvery underside, and about 15 rows of pale stripes on each side. It is characterized by a long bill with many fine teeth which it uses to stab, stun, injure, and kill its prey. They weigh up to 350 pounds for males and 1810 pounds for females, and live up to 18 and 27 years respectively. Their diet consists of fish such as mackerel, tuna, and squid. Due to its high fat content, the blue marlin is prized in Japan for use in sashimi. However, it is often accidentally caught in tuna fishing. They are overfished not only for commercial reasons like sushi, but are also a popular game fish. The blue marlin was also featured in Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea.

Amphibians

Inyo Mountains Salamander (Batrachoseps campi)

STATUS: ENDANGERED

LISTED 30 APRIL 2004

The Inyo Mountains Salamander is endemic to California, in the Inyo Mountains, as its name suggests. They are a silvery-green color, have a broad headed, rounded snout, large eyes, and 16-18 costal grooves (the grooves between ribs where nerves and blood vessels are). They are about 1.3-2.4 inches in length. Unlike other California salamanders, the Inyo Mountains salamander has four toes on the front and hind feet (other species have 5). They do not breathe through lungs; rather, they respirate through their skin, meaning that they must live in damp areas, such as near springs or seepage areas. They have naso-labial grooves (slits between the nostrils and lip that assist in chemoreception). These salamanders lay their eggs on land, and the young hatch into terrestrial salamanders. They are nocturnal, consume mainly small invertebrates, and have the ability to detach their tails in case of emergency. They are endangered because of the limited and fragile habitat, which is also affected by mining operations, flooding, and cattle grazing.

Wyoming Toad (Bufo baxteri)

NOTE: This species is now classified as Anaxyrus baxteri, but the official Science Olympiad species list should be followed.

STATUS: EXTINCT IN THE WILD

LISTED 30 APRIL 2004

The Wyoming toad used to be found in the Laramie plains in Albany County, Wyoming. In the late 1970s, their population dropped significantly, and they now exist only in captivity and the Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The Wyoming toad is dark green, brown, or gray, with small dark markings on its underside. The males have a dark throat, and the females are larger than the males. They hibernate from early October to early May. The Wyoming toad is active at night, but relies on prey movement to hunt, because of its poor eyesight. Wyoming toads have sensitive skin; as a result, they are easily infected by the chytrid fungus. Also, they do not readily adapt to rapid changes in climate or water. Current conservation efforts focus on captive breeding and the elimination of the chytrid fungus.

Mountain Yellow-legged Frog (Rana muscosa)

STATUS: ENDANGERED

LISTED 1 JANUARY 2008

The Mountain Yellow-legged frog is endemic to California, specifically the San Jacinto, San Bernardino, and San Gabriel Mountains. They can also be found in the Southern Sierra Nevada. Recently, some populations in the Southern Sierra Nevada have been reclassified into R. sierrae. The Mountain Yellow-legged frog is 4-8.9 centimeters long, yellow/brown/olive, and has black and brown markings. Occasionally its thighs are light orange/yellow. When handled, they emit an odor that is described as similar to garlic. The tadpoles are brown with some gold and black spots. It is a diurnal frog that lives within a few meters of a water source like a creek, usually in a sunny area. The call is short and rasps up at the end, and is mainly done underwater. Its diet consists of small invertebrates such as beetles and ants. The decline of the Mountain Yellow-legged frog is believed to be because of introduced trout that eat tadpoles, pesticides from agricultural areas, and the chytrid fungus. Current conservation efforts focus on captive breeding and chytrid fungus inoculation in captivity to increase immunity.

Dusky Gopher Frog (Rana sevosa)

NOTE: This species is also classified as Lithobates sevosus, but the official Science Olympiad list should be followed.

STATUS: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

LISTED 30 APRIL 2004

The Dusky Gopher frog, also known as the Mississippi Gopher frog, is a true frog endemic to the Southern United States. It is a medium-sized black/gray/brown frog, covered in dark spots or warts, that is about 8 cm long. The Dusky Gopher frog lives for 6-10 years, and requires about 80-180 days to mature as a tadpole. The male frog's call is described as similar to a human's snore. These frogs have several unique features. When threatened or exposed to bright light, they cover their eyes with their hands, inflate their body, and secrete a bitter, milky fluid. They react quickly to external pathogens by synthesizing and secreting antimicrobial peptides that target external pathogens. They live in sandy areas with abundant ground covers and return to wetlands to breed. Their previous habitat was along the Gulf Coastal Plain in lower Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, but are now only found near two ponds in Mississippi. Their diet is assumed to consist of frogs, insects, spiders, and earthworms. They are naturally threatened by predators such as turtles, birds, and snakes, and are also affected by the chytrid fungus. They are also threatened by fire suppression tactics, because fires are needed to maintain an open canopy, genetic isolation and inbreeding, and proposed residential developments that would fragment their habitat even more.

Ramsey Canyon Leopard Frog (Rana subaquavocalis)

NOTE: The Ramsey Canyon Leopard Frog is now believed to be part of the Chiricahua Leopard Frog species (Lithobates chiricahuensis), but the official Science Olympiad list should be followed. This section will continue to refer to it as the Ramsey Canyon Leopard Frog.

STATUS: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

LISTED 30 APRIL 2004

The Ramsey Canyon Leopard Frog is endemic to Mexico, Arizona, and New Mexico near sources of water such as creeks. It has a distinctive pattern of small, cream-colored, raised spots on its thigh and a green head and back. Its call sounds like a 1-2 second snore. The main danger to it is currently the chytrid fungus and habitat loss. There have not been many studies done on these frogs; as a result, there is not much information on them.

Macaya Burrowing Frog (Eleutherodactylus parapelates)

STATUS: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

LISTED 18 DECEMBER 2008

The Macaya Burrowing Frog, also known as the Casillon robber frog, is endemic to the Massif de la Hotte, a mountain range in Southwestern Haiti. Adult males are around 48.9 millimeters long, and the female length is unknown. It is a dark brown to tan color with dark spots. The fingers and toes have elongated tips and the toes and unwebbed. It is a fossorial species, meaning that it is adapted to digging and living underground. Its habitat and population is threatened by logging for charcoal product and slash-and-burn agriculture. There are currently no conservation efforts.

Panamanian Golden Frog (Atelopus zeteki)

STATUS: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

LISTED 21 DECEMBER 2010

The Panamanian Golden Frog is a species of toad that inhabits the Cordilleran cloud forests of Panama. It is also known as Zetek's golden frog, which, along with "zeteki", refers to the entomologist James Zetek. It is a light yellow-bright gold toad, and most members have black spots on the backs and legs. All members have elongated arms and legs, and males have webbed first and second fingers. When mating season occurs, the males have dark brown areas on their first fingers that are referred to as "nuptial pads". The sexes can be distinguished by size; males are smaller than females. The Panamanian Golden Frog lives up to 12 years, and typically mate between November and January. This species establishes its territory by waving its hands and feet, distinguishing it from other species. It mainly feeds on small invertebrates and is capable of releasing water soluble toxins. Their toxin has been used by natives for poison on arrows. They are threatened by human development and the chytrid fungus, and there are currently captive breeding programs focused on conservation. It is a national symbol of Panama.

Puerto Rican Crested Toad (Peltophryne lemur)

STATUS: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

LISTED 18 DECEMER 2008

The Puerto Rican Crested Toad is native to and only found in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It has a pebble-textured skin, golden eyes, and a characteristic upturned snout. Males are greenish-gold, while females are a dull brown. Unlike males, females have more textured skin and a noticeable crest above the eye. They are nocturnal, and have been recorded to live up to 10 years in captivity. Their diet mainly consists of small insects and snails. It takes about 18 days to mature into a toadlet. They live in rocky areas of the seasonal evergreen forest. The main reason fir their decline is the destruction of habitat, but introduced rats and mongoose have also had a detrimental effect on the population. Conservation efforts focusing on captive breeding and re-introduction appear to be successful.

Japanese Giant Salamander (Andrias japonicas)

NOTE: Although all other resources list this species' name as Andrias japonicus, the official list has Andrias japonicas, which may be a typo.

STATUS: NEAR THREATENED

LISTED 30 APRIL 2004

The Japanese Giant Salamander is endemic to Japan and is known there as Ōsanshōuo (大山椒魚), literally translating to "giant pepper fish". More specifically, it inhabits the rivers of the northern Kyushu island and western Honshu. It can grow up to 1.5 meters long (5 feet) and 25 kg (55 lb), surpassed only by the Chinese Giant Salamander. It can be distinguished from the Chinese Giant Salamander by the larger number of tubercles on the head/throat, more rounded snout, and shorter tail. The Japanese Giant Salamander has an elongated, mottled gray/black/cream, wrinkly body, a long broad tail, and two pairs of legs. It has tiny eyes on the top of its head, giving the salamander poor vision. Because it cannot see well, it relies on touch and smell to hunt for prey, which it does at night. Its prey includes fish, other salamanders, insects, and snails. However, due to its low metabolism, it can survive without eating for a few weeks. Additionally, its smooth skin acts as a respiratory surface. They can give off a milky substance that smells like peppers when threatened, leading to its Japanese name. It is threatened by silting of rivers, pollution, and hunting (its flesh is a delicacy). Breeding programs have been established in some zoos.

Table Mountain Ghost Frog (Heleophryne rosei)

STATUS: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

LISTED 8 FEBRUARY 2010

The Table Mountain Ghost Frog, also known as Rose's Ghost Frog, is found only on the Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa. It is very small (females grow up to 60 mm long, males to 50 mm), with a mottled green/purple/red-brown color. It swims well due to its fully webbed hind legs and also has spatulate toes that allow it to grip rocky substrates. During the mating season, both sexes grow spiny structures and males grow extra folds to increase oxygen take. Its diet mainly consists of small insects. Its total habitat is in an area no larger than 8 km2 on the southern and eastern slopes of the Table Mountain. The increase of alien vegetation like pines and poplars creates areas of stagnant water, and the construction of dams reduces the water flow as well. The stagnant water may reduce tadpole population, because the tadpoles need flowing water for a full year. Cases of the chytrid fungus have been found in this species, so conservation efforts currently focus on preventing the spread of the fungus. Research is also being done to estimate the population size to develop a better conservation plan.

Reptiles

Sea Turtles

NOTE: Questions are about sea turtle species as a whole, not individual species.

Sea turtles are reptiles of the order Testudines. Most of its body is covered by the shell, which has two parts: the carapace (dorsal portion) and the plastron (ventral portion). The shells consist of smaller plates called scutes. It is important to note that the leatherback turtle does not have a hard shell. It has bony plates beneath its skin. Sea turtles are more fusiformed, meaning that they cannot retract their arms and head into their shell. Sea turtles generally live in waters above continental shelves, and live the first few years of their lives in pelagic seaweed mats. Their diet varies, but may consist of jellyfish, mollusks, and algae. Sea turtles can take decades to reach sexual maturity, and often migrate thousands of miles in order to breed. Females return to the land to lay eggs, digging a hole to lay them in. The sex of the hatchlings is determined by the temperature of the sand they were laid in. They are mainly threatened by by-catching, oil spills, climate change, getting eaten as a hatchling, and poaching for eggs/meat.

Jamaican Boa (Epicrates subflavus)

STATUS: VULNERABLE

LISTED 1 AUGUST 1996

The Jamaican Boa is native to Jamaica and is the largest terrestrial predator there. It can grow 1.5-2.3 meters and weigh up to 5 kilograms. The upper part of its head is generally grey-olive, the front body is generally reddish-gold, and the body becomes blacker from the front to the rear. The scales, especially towards the rear, are iridescent. The Jamaican Boa is nocturnal and uses its forked tongue to detect chemical signals of prey. It ambushes the prey and asphyxiates it to death. The adults feed on rodents and birds, swallowing them whole. It inhabits forest and woodland areas. The introduction of cats, dogs, pigs, and mongooses by the Europeans around the 1500s led to population decline. Additionally, locals believed that the snake, although nonvenomous, was dangerous and hunted it. Forest clearing and mining currently also affects the boa's habitat. Conservation efforts currently focus on education about the snake and removal of introduced predators like the mongoose.

Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)

STATUS: VULNERABLE

LISTED 1 AUGUST 1996

The gopher tortoise is native to the southeastern United States, is the state reptile of Georgia, and the state tortoise of Florida. It is a light to dark brown color with a yellow plastron (ventral side). The hind feet are small and stumpy, but the front feet are shaped like shovels for burrowing. A gopher tortoise's diet consists of grasses and herbs, as well as berries and fruits. The male's mating call is short and raspy. Eggs are laid in the sand, and hatchling sex depends on incubation temperature. If the temperature is above 30 degrees Celsius, the egg is a female. Below 30 degrees Celsius is a male. A large percent of eggs are eaten by foxes, raccoons, etc. before they hatch. They inhabit dry, sandy areas and longleaf pine forests. Natural fires are important to their habitat because they clear canopies, allowing vegetation to grow. They are known for their burrowing skills - burrows may be up to 14.5 meters long and 3 meters deep. Because their burrow provide shelter for more than 300 other species (burrowing owls, snakes, etc.), they are considered a keystone species. They are threatened by habitat loss, especially the lack of wildfires, poaching for meat and pets, and being run over by cars. Conservation efforts focus on habitat conservation, and it is now illegal to keep gopher tortoises as pets or to remove them from natural habitats.

American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)

STATUS: LEAST CONCERN

LISTED 1 AUGUST 1996

The American alligator is the largest reptile in North America, and has survived in the same form for about 200 million years. It can be distinguished from a crocodile by its rounded snout and the fact that none of the lower teeth are visible when the jaw is closed. The body has thick scales, and its long tail and webbed feet help it to move through the water. The eyes and snout are located on the top of the alligator's head, meaning that it can breathe and watch for prey while its body is underwater. It is black-olive colored and has 74-80 sharp, conical teeth. The American alligator starts its life eating small insects, moves to fish and snakes as it gets older, and eats small mammals as an adult. It is important to note that attacks on humans, while dangerous, are very rare and are a result of provocation or identification of humans as smaller mammals. Eggs are laid in a mound of vegetation which gives off heat as it rots, helping with incubation. The temperature of incubation determines the alligator's sex; however, different parts of the nest are heated differently, so mixed-sex litters are common. The American alligator digs out holes with its snout and tail that can store water, which is crucial during drier times. Because of this, it is considered a keystone species. The American alligator is found in the southeastern United States in freshwater swamps and marshes. Previously, hunting for alligator skin decimated the population, but hunting was prohibited. Now, the main threat is to their habitat, especially human development and pollution. The American alligator is the state reptile of Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

Indigo Snake (Drymarchon melanurus)

STATUS: LEAST CONCERN

LISTED 1 MARCH 2007

The indigo snake, also known as the blacktail cribo, is found in the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central and South America. It is large, growing from 1.8 to 2.4 meters long, but nonvenomous. The indigo snake is mostly olive brown with black at its tail and a yellow-tan underside. It has distinctive black markings around its eyes, dark vertical marks behind its jaw, and dark diagonal marks on its neck. Its habitat includes tropical wet forests, dry forests, and mangroves. Although it is of least concern status, it is still threatened by habitat destruction, being run over by cars, and sometimes being poached for the pet trade.

Giant Madagascar Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus)

STATUS: LEAST CONCERN

LISTED 28 JANUARY 2011

The giant Madagascar leaf-tailed gecko, also known as the common flat-tail gecko, is endemic to Madagascar. More specifically, they are found in eastern Madagascar and the Nosy Bohara and Nosy Mangabe islands. It is large, growing up to 33 cm, and nocturnal. Its eyes are 350 times more sensitive to light than a human's, so they can see colors at night. When disturbed, it raises its tail and head and screams. They spend the day lying on trees in their tropical rainforest habitat. Their skin has a characteristic lichen-like appearance, giving it very good camouflage. Their diet consists of insects such as cockroaches and they may feed on snails. It is threatened by deforestation for agricultural purposes, logging, and the pet trade.

Philipine Crocodile (Crocodilus mindorensis)

NOTE: Most sources list this species as Crocodylus mindorensis, but the official Science Olympiad list should be followed.

STATUS: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

LISTED 24 MAY 2012

The Philippine crocodile, also known as the Mindoro crocodile, is endemic to the Philippines and is one of the most endangered freshwater crocodiles. This species is relatively small, growing up to 3.1 meters long. Their snout is broad and they have thick bony plates on their back. They are golden-brown and darkens as they get older and mature. They mainly feed on fish, small amphibians, and invertebrates. They live in freshwater marshes, lakes, ponds, and tributaries. Previously it was found throughout the Philippines; it currently is found on only a few islands. This species was formerly exploited for commercial purposes, but is currently threatened by habitat loss to make room for rice fields. They are often killed by locals because of negative experiences with the deadly saltwater crocodile. The local government does not do much to protect the habitat or the crocodile, so conservation efforts currently focus on captive breeding programs.

False Gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii)

STATUS: VULNERABLE

LISTED 30 DECEMBER 2011

The false gharial, also known as the Malayan/Sunda gharial and Tomistoma, is a freshwater crocodile native to Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, and Java. It has a slender snout like the gharial, which it is named after, but its snout broadens towards the base. False gharials are dark brown with black bands on the body, black portions on the jaw, and a creamy belly. Females construct mounds as nests and lay 20-30 eggs, but there is no evidence that the hatchlings get parental care. False gharials feed on insects, crustaceans, small mammals, and fish, which its slender snout is adapted to catching. They inhabit freshwater swamps and lakes, especially where water is slow-moving. There have been situations where a false gharial attacked and consumed a human. They are threatened by habitat destruction caused by dam construction, draining of swamps, being hunted for its skin/meat, and eggs being eaten by humans. International trade of false gharials is banned, and more data must be collected before conservation plans can be made.

Ploughshare Tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora)

STATUS: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

LISTED 15 JANUARY 2008

The ploughshare tortoise, also known as the angonoka and Madagascar tortoise, is endemic to Baly Bay, Madagascar, and is one of the rarest land tortoises in the world. "Ploughshare" refers to the gular scute of the plastron that is drawn out into a plough shape between the front legs. The carapace is hard and brown, with noticeable concentric rings on each scute. Their diet consists mainly of grasses and other plants. Males wrestle for the right to mate by attempting to flip other males over using the plough shaped part of the plastron. Ploughshare tortoises take up to 20 years to reach sexual maturity. They inhabit dry forests and scrubby areas. Bush fires destroy their habitat, and the introduced bush pig eats their eggs and young. Although illegal, they are highly valued in the pet market. Captive breeding programs appear to be successful, and a large release is planned.

Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis)

STATUS: LEAST CONCERN

LISTED 27 JANUARY 2011

The panther chameleon are well known for their color variations. Chameleons from different populations often have different colors. Colors include turquoise, green, pink, orange, red, and yellow. Most females are duller than males, but turn black with pink or orange bars after mating. The raised bony part at the back of the chameleon's head is known as the casque. Its eyes can move independently and its fingers allow it to grip branches, which helps it to hunt. Prey is caught using the chameleon's extendable tongue. Sexual maturity is reached after about 5 months, and the lifespan is about 2 years. The panther chameleon is endemic to Madagascar and is also found on Reunion and Mauritius islands. It inhabits humid, lowland forests. Breeding typically takes place during the spring and the summer. It is mainly threatened by habitat loss. It was previously threatened by the pet trade, but populations recovered after stricter trade quotas were put in place.

Giant Garter Snake (Thamnophis gigas)

STATUS: VULNERABLE

LISTED 1 MARCH 2007

The giant garter snake is mainly aquatic and is the largest species of garter snake in the world. It is a brown-olive color with a yellow stripe on its back and two light lateral stripes. Females are slightly longer and heavier than males. It preys on fish and amphibians and may feed on introduced species such as carp and bullfrogs. It secretes from its cloaca when threatened, causing it to become unpalatable. The giant garter snake is found in the Western United States, and historically in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys. It inhabits marshes and ponds with vegetation such as cattails for cover. Habitat loss has forced it into rice fields in some instances. It is venomous, but the mild neurotoxin is more effective on its prey than on a human. However, an itchy red rash may occur. It is threatened by habitat fragmentation and loss, especially from agricultural practices, and may suffer from metal contamination. Conservation attempts currently focus on maintaining and restoring habitats.

Red River Soft Shell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei)

STATUS: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

LISTED 30 JUNE 2000

The red river soft shell turtle, also known as the Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle and 斑鳖 (ban bie in Chinese), is a rare species of turtle found in China. There are currently only three of these turtles left (the fourth one died in January 2016). It has a deep head and pig-like snout, and is the largest freshwater turtle, growing over 100 cm long. Males are typically smaller than females and have longer tails. It lives in the Yangtze River and Lake Tai near Jiangsu and Zhejiang. Its diet consists of fish, crabs, frogs, leaves, etc. It can lay anywhere from 20-80 eggs. It is threatened by habitat loss, especially from dams, and use of its bones for medicine. Conservation efforts focus on a captive breeding program and searching for more wild specimens. Of the three known individuals, one lives in Dong Mo Lake Son Tay in Hanoi, Vietnam, and two live in the Suzhou Zoo. Scientists have attempted to breed the two turtles at Suzhou, but all attempts have failed (either the eggs were infertile or the shells were too thin).

Cuban Rock Iguana (Cyclura nublia)

STATUS: VULNERABLE

LISTED 1 SEPTEMBER 2016

The Cuban rock iguana is one of the largest lizards of the Caribbean. It can be found throughout the southern coast of Cuba and surrounding islands, with one population living in Puerto Rico. Cuban rock iguanas average a body length of 40 cm (16 in) from snout to vent, with lengths of up to 1.6 meters recorded. Males are generally larger than females and have enlarged femoral pores on their thighs. Males are typically dark red or gray, while females are olive green with dark stripes. Both males and females have a dewlap and a row of spines, solid heads, and jowls covered in spiky tubercles. They have golden irises with red sclera and a good sense of vision and color. The Cuban rock iguana is generally herbivorous, eating plants like the prickly pear. Nests of 3-30 eggs are laid in June and July and are guarded by the iguanas. Their populations are declining due to habitat destruction from tourism and introduced predators like rats and dogs, but captive breeding programs appear to be successful.

Grand Cayman Iguana (Cyclura lewisi)

STATUS: ENDAGERED

LISTED 10 JUNE 2012

Also known as the blue iguana, the Grand Cayman iguana is one of the most endangered lizard species. Native to the Grand Cayman Island, these lizards can be found in rocky, sunny areas in dry forests or near the shore. Their normal color is blue-gray, but the name of "blue iguana" comes from the vibrant blue color they have during the mating season. They are relatively large iguanas, growing up to 1.5 meters from nose to tail. Males are generally larger than females and have larger dorsal crests, as well as larger femoral pores. They have excellent vision and color detection. Grand Cayman iguanas are herbivorous. The mating season occurs from May to June; clutches of 1-21 eggs are laid in June and July. It is mainly threatened by habitat destruction, due to the increasing use of land for cattle grazing. Moreover, introduced rats and dogs lead to predation of both hatchlings and adults. Currently, there are attempts at captive breeding, but this is complicated by the amount of hybrid lizards. The Blue Iguana Recovery Program aims to increase the number of hatchlings while maintaining genetic diversity, but it is also limited by the lack of suitable habitat on the island.

Aruba Island Rattlesnake (Crotalus unicolor)

STATUS: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

The Aruba rattlesnake is a venomous pit viper found only in thorn scrub and desert areas of Aruba, in the Caribbean. Adults grow up to about 90 cm long and are light brown to pink, with darker diamond-shaped markings. It feeds on lizards, birds, and rodents and injects venom to kill them. Mating occurs from September to January. Females give birth to 5-9 live young, known as viviparity. From birth, they have fully developed venom glands and are capable of independence. The Aruba rattlesnake's lifespan is believed to be 15-20 years. It is estimated that less than 230 adults remain in the wild. This species, which only inhabits a small portion of a small island, is further threatened by human encroachment and introduced predators, such as goats. Furthermore, this snake is illegally exported in the pet trade. A Species Survival Plan hopes to initiate captive breeding and protect more of its habitat.

King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah)

STATUS: VULNERABLE

LISTED 1 SEPTEMBER 2011

Also known as the hamadryad, the king cobra is the world's longest venomous snake, growing 3-4 meters (10-13 ft) long. It is endemic to forests in India and Southeast Asia, where it has become an important figure in mythology and traditions; it is the national reptile of India. Its diet consists of other snakes, as well as vertebrates like lizards and rodents. It does NOT belong to the genus Naja, which most cobras belong to. The king cobra is dark brown with yellow bands and a pale belly and prefers to live in dense forest with lakes and streams. King cobra venom contains neurotoxins that can affect the central nervous system and eventually cause death. It is threatened by harvesting for traditional medicine and deforestation-induced habitat loss. The Agumbe Rainforest Research Station in India is currently working to protect the rainforests and provide an area for research.

Mammals

Black-footed Ferret (Mustela nigripes)

STATUS: ENDANGERED

LISTED 19 MAY 2015

The black-footed ferret is native to central North America. About the same size as a mink, it has a long and slender body with black on the feet, ears, and parts of the face. The rest of the body is a pale yellow. It has short legs with very sharp claws on their toes. Males are generally 20 in long (not counting the tail), while females are smaller. Black-footed ferrets are nocturnal and solitary, with peak activity during late summer and early autumn. Mating occurs in February and March. Kits are born in May and June and become sexually mature around 1 year of age. Their diet mainly consists of prairie dogs and small rodents. Their populations declined from fur harvesting and a decrease in prairie dog populations due to sylvatic plague. Black-footed ferrets were considered extinct in the wild until a USFWS captive breeding successfully reintroduced them to several western states. However, conservation efforts to promote prairie dogs have been opposed by ranchers and led to poisoning of prairie dogs.

Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)

STATUS: VULNERABLE

LISTED 27 AUGUST 2015

The polar bear, native to the Arctic Circle, is considered a large bear; males weigh 350-700 kg and females are about half the size of males. They spend most of their time on sea ice. Polar bears have large feet to distribute their weight and have small bumps to provide traction. Up to 10 cm of adipose tissue insulates polar bears, causing them to overheat at temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They are not territorial, but can be unpredictable during human interactions. Their diet consists mainly of seals. They typically live about 25 years and often die from injuries or ineffective hunting. Polar bears are valued by the Arctic peoples, who utilize most parts of the bear. They are threatened by climate change and human interactions, such as sport hunting. Global warming causes sea ice to melt earlier, leading to malnutrition and death. Conservation efforts include climate change reform, habitat protection, and reducing impacts from oil and gas industrial activities.

African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

STATUS: VULNERABLE

LISTED 30 JUNE 2008

The African elephant is the largest living terrestrial animal, measuring up to 3.96 meters at the shoulder and up to 10.4 tonnes heavy. It is larger than other African elephants (L. cyclotis), has a concave back, and dull brownish skin. Their trunks are used for bathing, drinking, and eating. Female African elephants live in matriarch-led herds and form close social relations. African elephants are found throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. They are herbivorous and have varied diets depending on their habitat (forest, grassland, etc.). Adults have no natural predators except humans. This is one cause of their decline; they are hunted for trophies and poached for tusks. Their habitat is also limited by logging and mining activities. Conservation efforts include an international ivory ban and habitat management.

Grey Wolf (Canis lupus)

STATUS: LEAST CONCERN

LISTED 1 JULY 2008

The grey wolf is a canine in North America and Eurasia. It was extirpated in much of Western Europe and the US. Wolves were persecuted for attacking livestocks and fear of attacks on humans. Since 1970, legal protection and urbanization stopped the decline of grey wolf population. It was assessed as Vulnerable from 1982 to 1994, and in 2004 and 2008 it was assessed as Least Concern.

Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa)

STATUS: VULNERABLE

LISTED 20 JANUARY 2016

The clouded leopard inhabits areas from the Himalayan foothills to mainland Southeast Asia. It has dark grey fur with a black blotchy pattern. Elongated blotches run down the side and flanks, which suggests the "clouded" part of its name. Clouded leopards weigh 11.5-23 kg, with females slightly smaller than males. They are solitary, arboreal, nocturnal, and a talented tree climber. They feed on arboreal and terrestrial vertebrates, such as pheasants and macaques. Mating occurs between December and March, and a litter of 1-5 cubs is laid roughly 93 days later. They are mainly threatened by habitat loss cased by deforestation, as well as poaching for skin, claws, and teeth. Hunting is banned in most of its range. Captive breeding programs are not always successful due to male clouded leopards' extreme aggression during courtship.

Tigers

NOTE: Students do not need to know tiger subspecies.

STATUS: ENDANGERED

LISTED 20 APRIL 2014

The tiger's scientific name is Panthera tigris. Tigers historically inhabited much of Asia, including the Indian subcontinent, but their range has drastically decreased. They are commonly identified through their dark stripes on reddish-orange fur. Females are generally smaller than males, but sizes vary a lot across subspecies. Tigers are generally solitary and may form complex relationships with other individuals. They feed on medium-sized animals such as deer and water buffalo. Mating occurs from November to April, and females raise cubs by themselves.

Major threats to tigers include habitat destruction and poaching for use in traditional medicine. Efforts to stop the black market have not been very successful. It is estimated that 1500-3500 tigers still exist in the wild, with many of them located in India. Tiger reserves have been established in several countries.

Notable subspecies include the Bengal tiger and the Siberian tiger.

Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla & G. beringei)

Gorilla gorilla

STATUS: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

LISTED 1 APRIL 2016

The western gorilla is the most populous species of gorilla. Western gorillas are black or dark grey with a brown forehead and are 50-60 inches tall. They live in groups of 2-20 with a dominant male leader. Their diet consists of many leaves and fruits. These gorillas are threatened by poaching and logging-induced habitat destruction. Furthermore, their low reproductive rates prevent a rapid increase in population. National parks have been created in an attempt to safeguard them. Koko and Harambe, two notable gorillas, were part of this species.

Gorilla beringei

STATUS: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

LISTED 1 APRIL 2016

The eastern gorilla, the largest living primate, has a broad build with black fur. Males generally weigh 300-450 pounds, which is much larger than females, who generally weigh 200-220 pounds. They live in eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and areas of Uganda and Rwanda. Their diet is foliage-based, rather than fruit-based. They have larger groups than western gorillas. Eastern gorillas are threatened by illegal hunting and deforestation. Conservation efforts include protection through national parks.

Orangutan (Pongo abelii & P. pygmaeus)

Pongo abelii

STATUS: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

LISTED 16 OCTOBER 2017

The Sumatran orangutan is found only in Sumatra (an island in Indonesia). Sumatran orangutans are thinner and have longer, paler red hair, in comparison to other orangutan species. They mainly eat insects and fruits like figs and jackfruit. They have been observed using tree branches to dig for termites and other fruit. Sumatran orangutans are social, gathering in groups to feed on fruit. They are threatened by logging and deforestation for oil palm plantations. Some successful breeding programs have been established and efforts have been made to protect forest habitat.

Pongo pygmaeus

STATUS: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

LISTED 8 FEBRUARY 2016

The Bornean orangutan is native to the island of Borneo. They have grey skin, coarse read fur, and prehensile feet. They inhabit tropical forests, where they eat fruit, leaves, and insects. Bornean orangutans have been observed using tools to try and catch fish, swat at bees, and protect themselves from the rain. They are more common than Sumatran orangutans but are still threatened due to illegal logging and palm oil plantations. Climate change has reduced the availability of food. Conservation efforts include rainforest preservation and rehabilitation/release programs.

Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus)

Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)

Little Brown Bat (Myotis spp.)

Birds

Whooping Crane (Grus americana)

Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus)

Least Tern (Sterna antillarum)

Eskimo Curlew (Numenius borealis)

STATUS: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED (possibly extinct)

LISTED 01 OCTOBER 2016

The Eskimow curlew was one of the most numerous shorebirds in Arctic Canada and Alaska. It was 30 cm long and fed mostly on berries. It was extirpated in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Eskimo curlew was utilized for its feathers as decoration on women's hats, known as plumes. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 helped the bird recover in the 1930s, but a second decline was attributed to increased development, habitat loss and human activity near nesting sites. The Eskimo curlew has not been seen in over 30 years, and is considered possibly extinct.

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)

African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus)

Galapagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus)

Introduced and Invasive Species

Brown Tree Snake (Boiga irregularis)

Cane Toad (Bufo marinus)

Burmese Python (Python molurus)

Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus)

Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodiles)

Feral Pigs (Sus scrofa)

Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)

Lionfish (Pterois volitans)

Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus)

Common Grass Carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella)

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

Laws and Regulations

Endangered Species Act

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

Lacey Act

Links

Trial Event Rules

2015 National Tournament Trial Events

Division B: Science Bowl · Sumo Bots · Roller Coaster · GPS | Division C: Science Bowl · Game On · Endangered, Exotic, and Extinct · Hydrogeology