Tree snail population in sharp decline; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will help to remove invasive species
University of Hawaii researchers report that native Hawaiian tree snails on Molokai have dropped in population by 85 percent since 1995. Rats appear to be the culprits.
Zoologists from UH have been studying species in four ohia trees in a Kamakou Preserve meadow near the mountain summit since 1982. Between 1983 and 1995 the population in this area increased from 19 to 195 snails.
The Nature Conservancy started a rat-poisoning program after the precipitous drop in snail populations in 1995, but snails continued to disappear. The recent forest fire that burned portions of Kamakou Preserve could have devastated the endemic Molokai tree snail population but it didn’t appear to reach the 4,000-foot meadow.
Federal money will help to remove invasive species
To help save native plants from invasive species, U.S. Senators Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye announced yesterday three coastal programs in Hawaii will receive $220,000 from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Funding will be provided to the Molokai Land Trust to restore 20 acres of coastal plant habitat on the island’s north shore at Anapuka in the Mokio parcel. Workers will be hired to remove invasive kiawe in coastal dunes between ‘Ilio Point and Mo‘omomi. North Molokai has some of the best remaining native coastal habitat in the state and removal of invasive kiawe will allow native plant communities to expand back into these areas. This technique has been used successfully at The Nature Conservancy’s Mo‘omomi Preserve to increase native plant cover.