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Twelve Species of Hawaiian Picture-wing Flies listed under Endangered Species Act 

SACRAMENTO, CA (05/10/06) -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has extended Federal protection to twelve species of Hawaiian picture-wing flies under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

The Service is listing 11 of the fly species as endangered and one as threatened. Each of the 12 Hawaiian picture-wing flies in this action is found only on a single island, and each breeds only on a single or a few related species of plants, some of which are also listed as threatened or endangered species. Six of the picture-wing flies are found on Oahu, three on the island of Hawaii, and one each on Kauai, Molokai, and Maui. One of the Big Island species was thought to be extinct until an extremely small population was rediscovered in 1993.

"More often than not large mammals such as bears, wolves, and manatees receive most of the public's attention while the importance of insects in our natural world is overlooked," said David B. Allen, Director of the Service's Pacific Region. "Studies of Hawaiian picture-wing flies have revealed an incredible evolutionary history that allows people to understand the dynamic adaptive changes that Hawaiian species have undergone."

There are approximately 106 species of Hawaiian picture-wing flies. Each species is specially adapted to a particular island and a specific habitat type, ranging from desert-like habitats to rain forests and swamplands. 

Hawaiian picture-wings have been called the "birds of paradise" of the insect world because of their spectacular displays during courtship and defense of their territories. The picture-wings are known for their elaborate markings on otherwise clear wings, and belong to the intensively studied Drosophilidae family. Future conservation efforts will focus on monitoring existing populations and controlling threats to enhance populations of listed species. 

The major threats to the 12 species of picture-wing flies are habitat degradation by feral animals such as pigs, loss of host plants, and impacts of non-native insect predators and parasites, including ants and wasps.  Furthermore, all of these picture-wing flies are now reduced to just a few populations within localized patches of their host plants, some of which are also listed under ESA. 

Those species being listed as endangered are: Drosophila aglaia, Drosophila hemipeza, Drosophila montgomeryi, Drosophila obatai, Drosophila substenoptera, and Drosophila tarphytrichia (all found on Oahu); Drosophila heteroneura and Drosophila ochrobasis (found on Hawaii); Drosophila musaphilia (found on Kauai); Drosophila differens (found on Molokai); and Drosophila neoclavisetae (found on Maui). The species listed as threatened is Drosophila mulli, which is found on the island of Hawaii.

Pursuant to a settlement agreement approved by the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii on August 31, 2005, the Service will propose critical habitat for these 12 species by September 15, 2006, and finalize critical habitat by April 17, 2007.

Copies of the final rule are available online, or by calling  the Fish and Wildlife Service office in Honolulu at (808) 792-9400.

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