East Hawaii News

15 Big Island Species Declared Endangered

October 29, 2013, 5:52 PM HST
* Updated October 30, 10:03 AM
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Fifteen species found on the Big Island have been granted protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The species include 13 plants, a picture-wing fly and the first anchialine pool shrimp ever to be granted endangered status.

The shrimp, Vetericaris chaceorum, is known to occur in only five anchialine pools along the coasts of South Kona and Ka`u, the US Fish and Wildlife Service said today.

“This species of shrimp is extremely rare, and until recently, the species had not been observed in the wild for more than 20 years,” said Loyal Mehrhoff, the agency’s field supervisor for the Pacific islands.

Anchialine pools are located near the shore but are connected to the ocean only by subterranean channels.

The other species are found in a variety of forests and shrublands, as well as both wet and dry cliff ecosystems.

Threats to these plants and animals include habitat destruction and modification caused by invasive non-native plants and animals, agricultural and urban development, the agency said.

They are also prey for feral pigs, sheep and goats, and other introduced species such as rats, non-native fish, and non-native invertebrates.

The dumping of trash and the introduction of non-native fish also pose threats to the anchialine pool shrimp.

The species’s native habitat is also threatened by the effects of climate change, which may intensify existing natural threats such as fire, hurricanes, landslides and flooding, the Fish and Wildlife Service said.

The agency has proposed designating critical habitat for one of the plant species, Bidens micrantha, subspecies ctenophylla, also known by its Hawaiian name Ko`oko`olau, and for two other plant species previously listed as endangered Mezoneuron kavaiense or uhiuhi, and Isodendrion pyrifolium or wahine noho kula.

The final rule on the listings was published today in the Federal Register.

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