Snail Extinction Prevention Program

Snail Extinction Prevention Program

An image of a Partulina mighelsiana (kāhuli) on an `ōhi`a leaf on Moloka`i.

This ‘ōlelo no‘eau, ke kāhuli leo le‘a o ka nahele, is a saying in Hawai‘i used to compliment a sweet-voiced individual. The kāhuli, pupukanioe, or pololei have long been revered by Hawaiians, often appearing in mele, hula, mo‘olelo, oli, and in this case ‘ōlelo no‘eauTheir ornate shells once blanketed the trees of Hawai‘i with a presence so abundant some believe the kāhuli’s song was composed by the wind swirling through their shells. 

Their adaptive radiation of approximately 750 species across the Hawaiian islands is an ecological spectacle, elucidating theories of evolution and island biogeography. Unfortunately, scientists estimate up to 90% of this diversity has vanished as a result of introduced invasive predators, habitat loss, over collection and climate change.

Since 2012, the Hawaii Snail Extinction Prevention Program has been working diligently to reverse the extinction of this species and return healthy populations to Hawaii’s forests for future generations to enjoy. 

An image of an Achatinella lila linking to the "About SEPP" page.
An image of an Achatinella lila linking to the "Meet the Staff" page.
An image of an Achatinella sowerbyana linking to the "Our Work" page.

An image of a Partulina virgulata linking to the "Meet the Snails" page.

An image of a Jacksons chameleon linking to the "Threats to Snails" page.

An image of a Newcombia cumingi linking to the "Kāhuli in Hawaiian Culture" page.

An image of an Achatinella decipiens linking to the "Found a SEPP Species?" page
An image of an Achatinella livida linking to the "Help Save Our Snails" page.
An image of an Achatinella lila linking to the "Learn More" page.

About SEPP

The Hawai‘i Snail Extinction Prevention Program (SEPP) is a partnership between the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources-Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the University of Hawai‘i. Our program has ambitious goals of securing rare and endangered snail species through the integration of novel captive rearing methods, on the ground management of wild populations and coordination with partner groups to align rare snail conservation objectives and management techniques across islands and entities.  

We are guided by an advisory committee comprised of conservationists, academics, and personnel from partner organizations and agencies with experience working in Hawaiian ecosystems and especially with Hawaiian snails. Our advisory committee, the Hui Kāhuli, meets annually to guide conservation efforts.  

What We Do 

A graphic of various species of Achatinella in a petri dish linking to the "Captive Rearing" page. A graphic of Achatinella lila on an `ōhi`a seen through binoculars linking to the "Field Work" page.

A graphic of various species of tree snails crawling in a circle linking to the "Learn More" page.

 

Meet the Staff

Program Coordinator

An image of the SEPP program coordinator, Dr. David Sischo.

David Sischo – SEPP Coordinator

David is a wildlife biologist specializing in the conservation of rare and endangered terrestrial mollusks from the Hawaiian and Mariana Islands. After receiving his bachelors degree in ecology and evolution from the California State University of Fresno, David earned is masters and doctorate in Zoology from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. David has worked with endangered species for over 10 years and has coordinated the Snail Extinction Prevention Program since its founding in 2012.

Field Crew

Keahi Bustamente – Maui Nui Field Coordinator

Kūpaa Hee – Oahu Field Coordinator

An image of one of the SEPP field technicians, Sidney Stiefel.

Sidney Stiefel – Oahu Field Technician

Sidney’s contributions to SEPP are primarily field focused, her days are typically spent in the forest monitoring extant native snail populations, controlling for predators and maintaining predator proof exclosures. After receiving a bachelors degree from Boston University where she studied Biology with specializations in Ecology, Evolution, Conservation Biology and Marine Science, she returned home to Oʻahu to pursue a career in conservation and serve the land that nurtured her upbringing. Through Kupu’s Conservation Leadership Development Program, Sidney worked with the Division of Forestry and Wildlife Native Ecosystems Protection and Management admin team, where she was first exposed to SEPP and grew to love Hawaii’s endemic snails and their native habitats.

Captive Rearing Crew

An image of the SEPP captive rearing laboratory manager, Genevieve Blanchet.

Geneviève Blanchet – Captive Rearing Laboratory Manager

Geneviève is the SEPP captive rearing lab manager. Her and the SEPP team rear and breed close to 40 species of rare Hawaiian snails species. Days at the lab consist of cleaning snail vivariums, feeding snails and recording every population’s census. Geneviève also oversees the selection and release of snails into predator proof exclosures.  

Geneviève came to Hawai‘i in 2016 with a dual background in environmental and molecular sciences after completing her undergraduate degrees at McGill University and at the University of Montreal in Canada. She then focused her studies on rare species population management using molecular tools, and obtained her M.Sc. in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo studying the genomics of the ‘Alalā (Corvus hawaiiensis). Geneviève enjoys working with rare Hawaiian species and was thrilled to join the SEPP team in 2020, where she hopes to make a difference during this critical time in the conservation of Hawaii’s endemic snail species. 

AmeriCorps Kupu Conservation Leadership Development Member

Philip Kitamura

Mokihana Tachera

UH Mānoa Undergraduate Assistants

Chasity Bae

Justin Chan

An image of a UH Mānoa student hire, Riley Nakasone.

Riley Nakasone

Riley is an undergraduate student at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa working towards his B.S. in Animal Sciences. His work is primarily focused in SEPP’s captive rearing lab, where he is studying the relationship between the strength of our snails’ mucus seals and their biogeography. Riley also collaborated with the Honolulu Zoo to create an education station highlighting the conservation of our SEPP species and other native invertebrates.

Alumni

Visit our alumni page to learn about those who have lent helpful hands and contributed to SEPP’s efforts. We would not be where we are today without them!

Contact Us

For any media inquiries please contact:

Hawai`i DLNR Communications Office
[email protected]
808-587-0396

For more information regarding the SEP program please contact:

David Sischo, Snail Extinction Prevention Program Coordinator
DLNR – Division of Forestry and Wildlife
1151 Punchbowl Street, Rm. 325, Honolulu, HI 96813
Contact via email