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PeerJ. 2015 Feb 5;3:e749. doi: 10.7717/peerj.749. eCollection 2015.

The effects of island forest restoration on open habitat specialists: the endangered weevil Hadramphus spinipennis Broun and its host-plant Aciphylla dieffenbachii Kirk.

Author information

1
Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison , Madison, WI , USA ; Department of Ecology, Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Lincoln University , Lincoln, Christchurch , New Zealand.
2
Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen , Copenhagen , Denmark ; Department of Ecology, Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Lincoln University , Lincoln, Christchurch , New Zealand.
3
Department of Ecology, Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Lincoln University , Lincoln, Christchurch , New Zealand.

Abstract

Human alteration of islands has made restoration a key part of conservation management. As islands are restored to their original state, species interactions change and some populations may be impacted. In this study we examine the coxella weevil, (Hadramphus spinipennis Broun) and its host-plant Dieffenbach's speargrass (Aciphylla dieffenbachii Kirk), which are both open habitat specialists with populations on Mangere and Rangatira Islands, Chathams, New Zealand. Both of these islands were heavily impacted by the introduction of livestock; the majority of the forest was removed and the weevil populations declined due to the palatability of their host-plant to livestock. An intensive reforestation program was established on both islands over 50 years ago but the potential impacts of this restoration project on the already endangered H. spinipennis are poorly understood. We combined genetic and population data from 1995 and 2010-2011 to determine the health and status of these species on both islands. There was some genetic variation between the weevil populations on each island but little variation within the species as a whole. The interactions between the weevil and its host-plant populations appear to remain intact on Mangere, despite forest regeneration. A decline in weevils and host-plant on Rangatira does not appear to be caused by canopy regrowth. We recommend that (1) these populations be monitored for ongoing effects of long-term reforestation, (2) the cause of the decline on Rangatira be investigated, and (3) the two populations of weevils be conserved as separate evolutionarily significant units.

KEYWORDS:

Chatham Islands; Endemic; Genetic variability; Population dynamics; Survey

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