IUCN SSC Atlantic Island Invertebrates Specialist Group

Securing the future for St Helena’s endemic invertebrates


Summary

St Helena, a small island in the South Atlantic Ocean, is a major biodiversity hotspot with about 470 species of endemic terrestrial invertebrates. Invertebrates on St Helena are under threat from invasive plants and animals, loss and fragmentation of habitat, and infrastructure development. Efforts to conserve important habitats have been underway for decades; however, due to the lack of knowledge about invertebrates, these efforts have mainly focused on plant and vertebrate species and their habitats. The St Helena National Trust is the leading conservation organisation on St Helena and has embarked on an ambitious three-year project to attempt to conserve and protect the island's invertebrates.  

The project will record key areas of native habitat to create baseline maps for future conservationists to be able to assess changes over time.

A wide-ranging invertebrate survey will be conducted using malaise traps at 24 sites accross the island. Every major habitat type will be surveyed over the period of a year, making it one of the most comprehensive invertebrate surveys ever attempted on St Helena.

Research quetsions that the project will attempt to answer are:

  1. What is the impact of invasive predatory species on native invertebrates and habitats?
  2. What is the effect of seasonality on invertebrates?
  3. Does conservation action for habitats also have benefits for invertebrates?
  4. What is the difference between invertebrate diversity and abundance between natural, restored and non-native habitats?
  5. What is the population size and range of the Prosperous Bay Mole Spider?

A complete set of resources including taxonomic keys, photos, wet and dry collections, and microscopes and laboratory tools will be assembled which will be housed permanently at the Museum of St Helena so that terrestrial invertebrate identification and research can be undertaken on-island after the life of the project. A field guide to St Helena's invertebrates will be written. And endemic species will be Red Listed.

For more information contact the St Helena National Trust +290 22224 or email  Mike Jervois the Project Manager mike.jervois@trust.org.sh

Funding Institution

The Darwin Initiative in the United Kingdom has kindly provided a grant over three years to support the project. Further funding has been given as in-kind support from project partners. 

Partners

Natural History Museum (London, UK)

Museum für Naturkunde und Vorgeschichte (Dessau, Germany)

Buglife - The Invertebrate Conservation Trust (UK)

St Helena Government

Photos Gallery