The Center is working to protect the colorful coral species that are key components of Caribbean reef ecosystems. Formerly the dominant reef-building corals in the Caribbean, over the past 30 years these corals have suffered a more than 8-percent decline throughout their range due to bleaching from abnormally warm water, disease, overfishing, and other threats. Each of these threats has been exacerbated and accelerated by global climate change. The Center petitioned for Endangered Species Act listing for three Caribbean coral species in March 2004, and in 2006 the elkhorn and staghorn corals became the first species listed under the Endangered Species Act due to threats from global warming. A Center lawsuit resulted in a 2007 agreement that the Fish and Wildlife Service will propose critical habitat for the two coral species in 2008.


The Center has been working to secure Endangered Species Act protection for some of the world's rarest bird species, including the St. Lucia forest thrush. Ornithologists first petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the thrush in 1980. The elfin wood warbler, now reduced to only four scattered populations in Puerto Rico, was first placed on the candidate list in 1982. After more than two decades of unreasonable delay, the Center filed lawsuits to force the Service to provide Endangered Species Act protections. Learn more about our International Birds Initiative.


The Center has fought for Endangered Species Act protections for endemic Puerto Rican species, including two coquí frogs, 21 plant species, and one invertebrate, the groundwater shrimp. The coquí guajón, also known as the Puerto Rico rock frog, is a rare frog occurring only in southeastern Puerto Rico in caves and rock grottos. The coquí guajón was listed as threatened in 1997, and the Center filed a lawsuit that resulted in the 2007 designation of 260 acres of critical habitat for the species and preparation of a recovery plan.


Adiantum vivesii
Agave eggersiana
Aristida chaseae
Calliandra locoensis
Calyptranthes estremerae
Calyptranthes thomasiana
Catesbaea melanocarpa
Cordia bellonis
Elaphoglossum serpens
Elfin-woods warbler
Elkhorn coral
Eugenia haematocarpa
Gesneria pauciflora
Island brittleleaf
Jamaican kite
Lyonia truncata proctorii
Mitracarpus spp.
Myrcia paganii
Pleodendron macranthum
Polystichum calderonense
Puerto Rico manjack
Puerto rico rock frog (coquí guajón)
Solanum conocarpum
St. Lucia forest thrush
Staghorn coral
Tectaria estremerana
Thelypteris spp.
Troglobitic groundwater shrimp
Vernonia proctorii
West Indian walnut

Contact: Jacki Lopez

Photo courtesy Flickr Commons/Peter Nijenhuis