The status of the invertebrate fauna on the South Atlantic island of St Helena: problems, analysis, and recommendations

Abstract

We present an analysis of the invertebrates of St Helena using an invertebrate conservation evaluation framework, to review invertebrate data, highlight knowledge gaps and prioritise invertebrate conservation needs that perhaps could be applied to other regions of the world. St Helena’s invertebrate fauna has 891 genera and 1133 species. The fauna has a high level of endemism with 450 species (equal to 96% of all native species) but the total species richness now comprises many introduced species (664) with 93 species in 24 orders that are entirely novel to St Helena. The elevation ranges of native species appear to be narrow, most being confined to higher elevations above 500 m. St Helena has had a large number of probable extinction events; 30 insects, and 19 molluscs, and the threat of further extinctions remains high. The cumulative invertebrate extinctions on St Helena exceed the global background extinction rate on an island barely covering 122 km2. We present actions and timelines to focus invertebrate conservation on St Helena; taxonomy, ecology, long term monitoring and invasive species control are priority areas to reduce extinction risk.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank The Darwin Initiative for funding the data collation for this paper under the project Laying the foundations for invertebrate conservation on St Helena. We would also like to thank Alice Farr, Liza White and the people of St Helena.

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Correspondence to Alan Gray.

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Communicated by David Hawksworth.

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Gray, A., Wilkins, V., Pryce, D. et al. The status of the invertebrate fauna on the South Atlantic island of St Helena: problems, analysis, and recommendations. Biodivers Conserv 28, 275–296 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-018-1653-4

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Keywords

  • Extinction
  • Island biodiversity
  • Species richness
  • Endemism
  • Red List