Saving Easter Island’s Last Native Species

Invasive species and tourism have depleted most of Easter Island’s native wildlife. Ten microscopic insects are all that are left, and they are in urgent need of protection. 

Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, used to be swathed in scrub forest and dotted with palm trees. But following human settlement and the introduction of invasive species, the native vegetation suffered and ultimately gave out. The landscape changed from diverse plants and trees into homogeneous grassland.

Along with the habitat destruction, most of the island’s native wildlife disappeared, including birds, sea mammals, insects, and a giant palm tree. Now, the animals you can most easily find on the island are introduced sheep, horses, and goats.

Island Conservation Easter Island Landscape

Landscape and coastline of Easter Island. Credit: Catarina Rodrigues

The takeover by invasive species, however, has not wiped out every native species on the island. Ten microscopic insect species (that we know of) live in native moss and ferns in the island’s volcanic caves–and these insects are found nowhere else in the world. Seven of the ten species are Springtails, which can launch themselves incredible distances to escape predators.

Island Conservation two springtails

Two Springtails. Credit: Andy Murray

Though they haven’t been overcome yet, these remnants of the island’s native wildlife are very much threatened by invasive species. Cockroaches, millipedes, and other invasives crowd out and prey on the native insects.

To the rescue of the remaining insects is ecologist Jut Wynne, assistant research professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research at Northern Arizona University. Wynne has been discovering and monitoring the island’s remaining native species since 2008.

 These insects are in a constant struggle, in competition [with] and being predated upon by an overwhelmingly significant non-native arthropod or insect community…because of that we believe that most of the insects on the island are indeed in danger of extinction.

Island Conservation Rapa Nui

Jut Wynne at work on Easter Island. Credit: Rafael Rodriguez Brizuela

Wynne is hard at work pushing for conservation on the island to protect what is left of the native species. He has gained support from local people on Easter Island. Sebastián Yancovic Pakarati, an indigenous resident and expert on Rapa Nui’s natural heritage says,

The new generations want to pay more attention, not just to conserving and preserving the Moai and the cultural legacy of our ancestors, but we also want to place a major emphasis on nature’s heritage and biodiversity, both on land and in the sea…This is where we have real potential for growth, as well as the responsibility of taking charge of our own island.

Island Conservation Rapa Nui Cave

Cave on Easter Island. Credit: Dan Lundberg

Islands around the world are home to rare species, often found nowhere else in the world. Protecting these species from damage by invasives is critical, and time is of the essence.

Featured photo: Statues on Easter Island. Credit: Catarina Rodrigues
Read the original article at Discover

About Sara Kaiser

Sara received a BA in anthropology from UC Santa Cruz in 2014. As a freelance writer and editor, she seeks to produce and highlight stories that support ecological responsibility, body awareness, emotional intelligence, and creative action, and reveal the connections between them.

View All Posts

Follow Island Conservation on Social Media

[ism-social-followers list='fb,tw,li,youtube,instagram' template='ism_template_sf_1' list_align='horizontal' display_counts='false' display_full_name='true' box_align='center' ]

[ism-social-followers list='fb,tw,li,youtube,instagram' template='ism_template_sf_1' list_align='horizontal' display_counts='false' display_full_name='true' box_align='center' ]

Midway Atoll conservation




%d bloggers like this:
Send this to a friend

cbd oil neuropathy cbd oil 5 mg activ8 cbd does kaiser prescribe cbd oil oregon cbd oil cbd oil per liter cbd liver disease cbd select low thc high cbd oil nevada cbd oil hotels in new orleans cbd difference between marinol and cbd oil cbd diol with coconut oil cbd purification cbd tincture vs isolate cbd cloud 9 cbd oil for prostatitis cbd and driving cbd pen for sale cbd oil affiliate tram to melbourne zoo from cbd best rated medical cbd oil cbd joint raw how much is a drop of cbd oil cbd oil vs hemp oil reddit high from cbd oil using cbd oil and smoking weed cbd oil books cbd oil products near me hemp bombs cbd gummies buying guide cbd oil cbd oil erectile dysfunction

diabetes medicine for weight loss dr oz and keto diet pills otc weight loss pills that work do green tea extract pills make you lose weight what drug makes you lose weight fast best weight loss supplement at gnc keto ulta diet pills fastest weight loss atkins diet most effective diets for weight loss weight loss calorie diet for large frame female veg indian diet plans for weight loss what are natural weight loss pills diet beans weight loss weight loss diet plan free online what is the best chinese medicine for weight loss weight loss diet for women 60 plus most poplular weight loss pills best dieting tips to lose weight juicy diet weight loss recipes l a weight loss diet no food for a week weight loss diet gnc lose weight pills best healthy weight loss diet plan best weight loss pills 2020 walgreens smoothie and soup weight loss diet best weight loss supplements hca how much in weight loss is diet vs excercise yorkie diet to lose weight how to weight loss in 7 days diet free diet foods to lose weight fast quick weight loss fad diets yolanda adams weight loss pills

strong sx pills how to buy viagra pills what is the best male enhancer lovex m male enhancement tumblr male enhancement techniques anti viagra pills how to make your dick bigger no pills chinese erection pills in taiwan penis enlargement exercise photos saggs male enhancement pills how to make your penis bigger pills vmax blue sex pills diamond shaped white pill best supplements for sex drive i took two extenze plus pills alpha titan male enhancement pills super supplements stores extenze 1 pill gas station climatix male enhancement ultimate male enhancement mens action strips male enhancer samurai x sex pills review male package enhancer ball lifter no headache male enhancement grow penis without pills top 5 penis pills trial of penis enhancement pills the doctors best ed pills non prescription do liquor store male enhancement pills work male enhancement pills coffee male enhancement pills against amazon terms sex pills at gas stations that really work