Akikiki. Photo by Eric VanderWerf
Two bird species endemic to Kauai, the `Akikiki or Kaua`i Creeper and the `Akeke`e or Kaua`i `Akepa were recently listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. To see a press release and the final listing rule, go to http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/kauai48species.html.
Eric petitioned the Service to list these species in October 2007, and he enlisted aid of the American Bird Conservancy to help promote the petition and the plight of these imperiled birds. A copy of the petition can be found on the Pacific Rim Conservation website, under Publications and Reports, number 53.
Akekee male. Photo by Eric VanderWerf
The `Akikiki and `Akeke`e were listed as part of a package that included 48 species on Kaua`i. The Service took a while to finalize the listing, longer than legally allowed, but it is good to finally see them get appropriate legal protection.
However, simply listing these species as endangered will not lead to their recovery. Conserving these species will require long-term commitments to protecting their habitat from invasive alien plants and animals, and further investigating the causes of their decline.
As part of the ongoing monitoring to measure what the effects will be of predator removal on the ecosystem at Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve, Pacific Rim Conservation in collaboration with the Hawaii Department of
Yellow faced bee on an Ohai flower. Photo by Pat Aldrich
Land and Natural Resources and the US Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, conducted an intensive three day long biological survey in March as part of the Kaena Point Ecosystem Restoration Project. Insects were collected and identified from points throughout the reserve to document whether the removal of rats will cause changes in proportions of native insects, such as yellow faced bees, and non-native insects, such as ants. Small soil samples were also collected to determine whether increases in seabird numbers will impact the nutrients in the soils and the marine intertidal habitat was surveyed to document whether rats are having an impact on marine invertebrates, such as opihi. Previous surveys have already been done on the plants and birds at Kaena to look at similar questions. Overall, the removal of non-native predators, such as rats, mongoose and cats are expected to have a large benefit to the native species found at Kaena Point.