This week, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) listed (pdf) 15 species on the island of Hawaii as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Among the species protected are the anchialine pool shrimp (Vetericaris chaceorum), an extremely rare species of shrimp of which only five individuals have ever been observed, and the picture-wing fly (Drosophila digressa). In addition, the Service listed 13 species of plants, including sunflowers, asters, shrubs, and other small trees. Specifically, the haha (Cyanea marksii), aku (Cyanea tritomantha), and kookoolau (Bidens hillebrandiana ssp. hillebrandiana and Bidens micrantha ssp. ctenophylia) were granted federal protection.
The Service cited predation by non-native and invasive species, habitat destruction and modification, including conversion by agriculture and urbanization, and environmental changes resulting from climate change as primary threats to these species.
The Service is expected to publish a rule designating critical habitat for these species in the near future.
This week’s listing is the latest in a series of decisions resulting from a 2011 settlement agreement between the Service and the Center for Biological Diversity to expedite review of 757 species on the candidate waiting list. For more details regarding how these types of settlement agreements have recently come under scrutiny, please see our posts dated June 4, 2013 and March 29, 2013.