Federal plan protects rare Kauai species
The priority is to restore habitat for the Kauai cave wolf spider and amphipod
Tiny, small in numbers and totally blind, the Kauai cave wolf spider and amphipod are both slated to be rescued from the edge of extinction with a new plan issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The service announced yesterday that the Final Recovery Plan for the Kauai Cave Arthropods is now available to the public.
"These unique and highly specialized species are often overshadowed by Hawaii's charismatic species, such as the green sea turtle, Hawaiian monk seal and others, but deserve just as much attention if not more," said Patrick Leonard, field supervisor for the Fish and Wildlife Service's Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office.
The new plan will ensure the recovery of the species and raise awareness about their existence, he said.
Both species are eyeless and were unknown until their discovery in 1971.
Little is still known about the quarter-size wolf spiders, which live in the lava tubes and cave-bearing rock in Kauai's Koloa Basin. Their population is estimated to possibly be fewer than 30. The spiders hunt by sensing chemical compounds.
Ranging in size up to nearly a half-inch, the Kauai cave amphipod is a land-hopper that resembles a shrimp. The amphipod feeds on plant materials and is believed to be a food source of the Kauai cave wolf spider. Surveys indicate the rare insect's numbers are anywhere between eight and 300.
The priority of the recovery plan is to protect and restore the species' cave habitats.
To protect the caves, the report recommends controlling access and preventing the destruction of plants above the cave systems. It also calls for halting the introduction of non-native species and contamination by pollutants.
The plan also recommends encouraging the growth of appropriate plants above the caves to increase the food source for the amphipods and the relative humidity of the caves. Cave-dwelling species appear to require high humidity, possibly as much as 100 percent.
Further research on the species and their habitats is also recommended to better understand their conservation needs, the plan said.