The two major threats to this species in the wild are Xylosandrus compactus, the black twig/coffee borer and the ambrosia fungus that X. compactus introduces when it bores into the pith of young tree stems for its larva to feed on. When the pests move on the fungus stays and continues to travel down the stem causing more damage. Rose Beetles, Popillia japonica, also a threat to F. neowawraea because they can damage the remaining leaves on the tree inhibiting photosynthesis. Other threats to the plant and its habitat are other non-native plants and animals.
Number of Populations: 30 (USFWS 2001)
Number of Plants: 70 (Wood et al. 2002)
There is ongoing research that is surveying all wild living individuals of F. neowawraea that still remain on Kaua'i to determine their health and sex (NTBG and DOFAW). In addition, DNA extraction studies (University of Hawai'i) have shown that individuals from Kaua'i are more genetically variable from the other island populations (including O'ahu, Maui, and Hawai'i). During the research, it was also found that some wild trees have a greater resistance to the coffee twig borer than other (Wood et al. 2002).One plant of F. neowawraea has been fenced on the Navy's Laulualei Naval Reservation (O'ahu) to protect it from cattle and feral pigs. A program of invasive plant removal within the exclosure is ongoing. Seed pathogen abatement, ex situ seed longevity and regeneration interval studies are ongoing (Sloss and Wolkis, 2017).
The US Army Garrison Hawai'i, O'ahu Training Areas, Natural Resource Management Final Report had been completed by the Army Environmental Staff. This report consists of detailed management plans and descriptions of completed actions for each endangered species including F. neowawraea that occurs on Army land. The Army Environmental staff has also conducted intensive rat control around the Keawaula population in order to collect and propagate (USFWS 1999). The Lyon Arboretum has attempted micropropagation but has not yet been successful (USFWS 1999). In April, 2002, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that a designation of critical habitat was prudent for this species (USFWS 2002).
Recommendations for Future Actions (USFWS, 2013):
- Surveys / inventories - Survey known occurrences on Kaua'i and Hawai'i Island to determine current status and numbers of individuals
- Captive propagation for genetic storage and reintroduction - Continue to collect fruit from all wild and any reintroduced individuals that set seed to add to the genetic diversity of the ex situ material.
- Ecosystem-altering invasive plant species control - Control introduced invasive plant species around wild and outplanted individuals.
- Ungulate exclosures - Construct fences around all naturally occurring and reintroduced individuals to control feral ungulates.
- Reintroduction / translocation - Continue reintroducing individuals into protected suitable habitat within historical range.
- Alliance and partnership development - Initiate planning and contribute to implementation of ecosystem-level management and restoration to benefit this species.
- Population biology research
- Investigate techniques to improve natural recruitment, including development and implementation of methods to control black twig borer and other pests.
- Assess genetic variability within extant populations.
- Study populations with regard to population size and structure, geographical distribution, flowering cycles, pollination vectors, seed dispersal agents, longevity, specific environmental requirements, limiting factors, and threats.
The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) currently has ex situ holdings of over 3,000 seeds from nine accessions secured in their Seed Bank & Laboratory. In addition, there are 43 plants representing 12 accessions growing in NTBG McBryde and Limahuli Gardens.
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