Wēkiu Bug surveys show more than seven-fold population increasePosted on Dec 22, 2021
The Center for Maunakea Stewardship (CMS, formerly known as the Office of Maunakea Management) sets a variety of trap types at more than 100 sites every year to monitor the abundance, distribution, and demography of native arthropods, and to detect new invasive species threats that could potentially have negative impacts to the sub-alpine and alpine ecosystems on Maunakea. The goal of these surveys is to document insect activity and to have a measure of ecosystem health in order to inform conservation actions across the landscape. A focal species monitored during these surveys is the endemic wēkiu bug which were once a candidate for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act but further research and commitments by land stewards to protect and monitor the bug removed it from candidate status in 2011. In 2021, almost 3,000 wēkiu bugs were captured and released with all life stages and sexes observed, demonstrating that the bugs are growing and reproducing. This is a noticeable increase, from just 400 bugs counted in the previous two years, and may be attributed to favorable “wet” weather conditions with above average snow and rain events that provided moisture, a limiting resource to the alpine stone desert environment. To learn more about wēkiu bugs and view a video about the CMS survey, please visit UH News.