Megalorrhipida leucodactyla (Fabricius)

White-footed Feather Moth (Megalorrhipida leucodactyla)

The White-footed Feather Moth has a pantropical distribution, that means it occurs in the tropics worldwide, thus it probably occurs naturally in some parts of Polynesia as well.

The caterpillars are not specialized to any host plant species and feed on a wide range of plants, including the widespread species Boerhavia albiflora Fosberg, Boerhavia repens L. and Boerhavia tetrandra G. Forst..

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References:

[1] Koji Yano: Notes on South Pacific Pterophoridae (Lepidoptera). Pacific Insects 5(4): 849-871. 1963
[2] Karin S. Kami; Scott E. Miller: Samoan Insects and related Arthropods: Checklist and Bibliography.Bishop Museum Technical Report 13. 1998

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megalorrhipida-leucodactyla-dh

Photo: Donald Hobern

(under creative commons license (2.0))
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

Pandanus tectorius Parkinson ex Du Roi

Screw Pine (Pandanus tectorius)

Distribution:

Austral Islands: Maria, Raivavae, Rapa, Rimatara, Rurutu, Tubuai
Cook Islands: Aitutaki, ‘Atiu, Mangaia, Manihiki, Manuae, Ma’uke, Miti’aro, Nassau, Palmerston, Pukapuka, Rakahanga, Rarotonga, Suwarrow, Takutea, Tongareva
Fiji: Aiwa, Dravuni, Fulaga, Gau, Kadavu, Koro, Lakeba, Laucala, Mabualau, Makaluva, Matamanoa, Matuku, Moala, Monuriki, Nagigia, Namenalala, Namuka, Nananu, Nasoata, Naviti, Nayau, Nukulau, Nukulevu, Qamea, Rotuma, Solkope, Taveuni, Vanua Balavu, Vanua Levu, Vatoa, Vatulele, Viti Levu, Wayasewa, Yanucalailai, Yanucalevu
Gambier Islands: Agakauitai, Akamaru, Aukena, Kamaka, Makapu, Makaroa, Mangareva, Manui, Mekiro, Taravai
Hawai’i Islands: Kaua’i, Lana’i, Maui, Moloka’i, Ni’ihau, O’ahu
Kiribati: Flint Island, Karoraina, Nikumaroro, Orona, Palmyra Atoll, Tabuaeran, Teraina
Marquesas: Eiao, Fatu Hiva, Mohotani, Nuku Hiva, Tahuata, Ua Huka, Ua Pou
Niue
Pitcairn Islands: Henderson Island, Oeno, Pitcairn Island
Samoa: Apolima, ‘Aunu’u, Fanuatapu, Manono, Namu’a, Nu’ulua, Nu’utele, Ofu, Olosega, Savai’i, Ta’u, Tutuila, ‘Upolu
Society Islands: Bora Bora, Mai’ao, Me’eti’a, Mo’orea, Motu Nono, Motu Puuru, Ra’iatea, Taha’a, Tahiti, Tetiaroa, Tupai
Tokelau: Atafu, Fakaofo, Nukunonu, Olohega
Tonga: Alakipeau, ‘Ata, ‘Eua, Fafa, Foa, Fukave, Kao, Makaha’a, Malinoa, Manima, Maninita, Monuafe, Motutapu, Mounu, Niuatoputapu, Nuku, Oneata, Onevai, Onevao, Pangaimotu, Polo’a, Tafahi, Tau, Tofua, Toketoke, Tongatapu, Tufaka, ‘Uiha, ‘Uta Vava’u, Velitoa Hahake, Velitoa Hihifo
Tuamotu Archipelago: Akiaki, Anaa, Aratika, Hao, Katiu, Makatea, Makemo, Manihi, Mataiva, Morane, Mururoa, Napuka, Niau, Nukutepipi, Rangiroa, Raroia, Tahanea, Taiaro, Takapoto, Takaroa, Takume, Tatakoto, Temoe, Tikehau, Tikei, Toau, Vahitahi
Tuvalu: Funafuti, Nanumanga, Nanumea, Niulakita, Niutao, Nui, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae, Vaitupu
Wallis & Futuna: Alofi, Faioa, Fenua Fo’ou, Futuna, Nukuatea, Nukuloa, Nukutapu, ‘Uvea

local names:

‘ara – Aitutaki / Cook Islands
‘ara pepe – ‘Atiu, Ma’uke / Cook Islands
‘ara-ta’atai – Rarotonga / Cook Islands
‘ara-tai – ‘Atiu, Mangaia, Ma’uke, Miti’aro / Cook Islands
balawa – Fiji
draudreka – Fiji
fa – Niue; Tonga
fa’a mei – Marquesas
fa feutu – Niue
fa fi – Niue
fa ivi – Niue
fala – Samoa
falavao – Olohega / Tokelau
fala vao – Tokelau
fara – Manihiki, Palmerston, Rakahanga / Cook Islands; Tupai / Society Islands; Raroia / Tuamotu Archipelago
fara moa – Tahiti / Society Islands
fara moua – Tahiti / Society Islands
fara uteute – Tahiti / Society Islands
fasa – Samoa
hala – Hawai’i Islands
hala kilipaki – Hawai’i Islands (spineless clone)
hara – Tongareva / Cook Islands
hat – Rotuma / Fiji
hata – Rotuma / Fiji
hosoa – Rotuma / Fiji
kiakia – Rotuma / Fiji
kie – Tonga (spineless clone)
lau fala – Samoa (spineless clone)
pandana – Palmerston / Cook Islands
pu hala – Hawai’I Islands
sa’aga – Rotuma / Fiji
te kaina – Kiribati
teou – Nui / Tuvalu
teto – Nui / Tuvalu
tima – Raroia / Tuamotu Archipelago
uea – Tupai / Society Islands
vadra – Fiji
varawa – Fiji
voivoi – Fiji
wala – Nassau, Pukapuka / Cook Islands

~~~

The Screw Pine is a geographically widespread and exceptionally morphologically variable species (or maybe a species complex). In the Polynesian region this plant is found almost everywhere, except for climatically inappropriate areas like New Zealand or Rapa Nui.

The Screw Pine was once one of the most important plants for the Polynesians, and Screw Pine saplings, together with saplings of Breadfruit Trees, Coconut Palms, Taro and several others, were transported by the Polynesian settlers on their boats during inter-island migration – to be planted out at their new island homes.

The Polynesians, over time, reared numerous cultivars, among them such whose leaves are lacking spines on their margins, and which therefore are very well-suited for weaving.

The exceptional variability of the wild and cultivated forms lead to the description of countless species, subspecies and varieties. So, Harold St. John alone described in his “Revision of the Genus Pandanus” various female plants as distinct species – in many cases from geographically very localized populations. In a biological sense, all of these ‘species’ are part of the same population, and furthermore, it is impossible to designate male plants to such ‘species’.

Some of the morphologically distinct forms that are seemingly restricted to the higher elevations of larger islands, like Pandanus papenooensis H. St. John on Tahiti or Pandanus temehaniensis J. W. Moore on Ra’iatea, are often still referred to as distinct species.

(I personally, however, see all of these forms as Pandanus tectorius.)

Nevertheless, the genus is in urgent need of a proper revision!

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As already mentioned, in virtually all parts of Polynesia the leaves were and are used for weaving, among other things, for elaborate mats, especially in Tonga, or boat sails (in former times on the Hawai’i Islands), right up to roofs and walls of houses (!). The stilt roots were used, for example, on the Cook Islands, for house building (as abutment walls) too.

The fruits are fruit heads comprising an aggregate of many tightly bunched phalanges or drupes that are edible. In some cultivars, these drupes reach the size of an apple. They are eaten especially in parts of Kiribati, Tokelau, and in Tuvalu.

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References:

[1] Sven Buerki; Martin W. Callmander; Dion S. Devey; Lauren Chappell; Timothy Gallaher; Jérôme Munzinger; Thomas Haevermans Félix Forest: Straightening out the screw-pines: A first step in understanding phylogenetic relationships within Pandanaceae. Taxon 61(5): 1010-1020. 2012
[2] Timothy Gallaher; Martin W. Gallmander; Sven Buerki; Sterling C. Keeley: A long distance dispersal hypothesis for the Pandanaceae and the origins of the Pandanus tectorius complex. Molecular Phylogenetis and Evolution 83: 20-32.2015

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pandanus-tectorius-fks

Photo: Kim Starr & Forest Starr; by courtesy of Kim Starr & Forest Starr

http://www.starrenvironmental.com

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edited: 13.02.2017

Acrocephalus aequinoctialis (Latham)

Kiribati Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus aequinoctialis)

The 16 cm long Kiribati Reed-Warbler is the only (recent) resident passerine bird in Kiribati, all other passerines possibly seen there are winter visitors.

The species can be split into two subspecies (in fact they may even represent three – but this need further investigation), both show a grey and white plumage and differ only slightly from each other.

The Kiribati Reed-Warbler was first described in 1790 from the giant atoll of Kiritimati, where its total population today is estimated at only 300 to 400 birds.

Another form was discovered in 1881 on the small atoll of Tabuaeran, 224 km northwest of Kiritimati, it was described as a distinct subspecies (Acrocephalus aequinoctialis ssp. pistor Tristram) in 1883, but was last seen in the year 1924, and is now considered extinct.

Again, another form was discovered in 1921 on the island of Teraina, 120 km northwest of Tabuaeran, and this was subsequently assigned to the ssp. pistor (but may indeed by a distinct third subspecies).

In Kiribati this bird is called bokikokiko resp. kokikokiko.

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acrocephalus-a-pistor-ibis

Tabuaeran Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus aequinoctialis ssp. pistor)

Depiction from: ‘H. B. Tristram: On the Position of the Acrocephaline Genus Tatare, with the Descriptions of two new species of the Genus Acrocephalus. The Ibis 5(1): 38-46. 1883′

http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org

Nesofregetta fuliginosa (Gmelin)

Polynesian Storm-Petrel (Nesofregetta fuliginosa)

This species is endemic to the tropical Pacific, where it breeds from parts of Melanesia (Vanuatu) well into East Polynesia, for example on the Gambier Islands in the Tuamotu Archipelago.

From the Cook Islands and on Rapa Nui, however, it is known only from subfossil remains.

The Polynesian Storm-Petrel is an about 25 cm large seabird, of which several color morphs are known to exist, which were formerly considered to represent distinct species. A remarkably dark morph (the Samoan Storm-Petrel) seems to be restricted to Samoa.

The bird is known in Polynesia by several different names, including kitai on the Marquesas, korue on Tahanea in the Tuamotu Archipelago, taio in Samoa, and te bwebwe ni marawa on the Phoenix Islands of Kiribati.

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nesofregetta-fuliginosa-akk

Photo: Angela K. Keppler; by courtesy of Angela K. Keppler

http://www.pbif.org

Utetheisa pulchelloides Hampson

Heliotrope Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides)

This species occurs with several subspecies in many parts of the ‘Old World’ and has also colonized many island groups within the Indian – and the Pacific Ocean.

The subspecies occurring in Polynesia is Utetheisa pulchelloides ssp. marshallorum Rothschild (see photograph), it is found on the Fijian Islands, in Samoa and Tonga, in all parts of ‘French’ Polynesia up to the Pitcairn Islands.

The caterpillars of this species feed on the leaves of the beach heliotrope (Heliotropium foertherianum Diane & Hilger).

~~~

Another subspecies, Utetheisa pulchelloides ssp. vaga Jordan, regularly immigrates from Australia to New Zealand, where it has also already established temporary breeding colonies.

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References:

[1] R. H. Van Zwaluwenburg: The Insects of Canton Island. Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society 11(3): 300-312. 1943
[2] Alden D. Hinckley: Ecology of Terrestrial Arthropods on the Tokelau Atolls. Atoll Research Bulletin 124: 1-18. 1969
[3] Gaden S. Robinson: The Genus Utetheisa Hübner in Fiji with a description of a new species (Lepidoptera, Arctiidae). Entomologist’s Record and Journal of Variation 83: 123-130. 1971
[4] G. W. Gibbs: A temporary breeding colony of Utetheisa pulchelloides vaga in New Zealand. New Zealand Entomologist 5(2): 162-163. 1973

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utetheisa-p-marshallorum-dhg

Photo: Donald H. Gudehus; by courtesy of Donald H. Gudehus

http://www.parfaitimage.com

Emoia cyanura (Lesson)

Blue-tailed Skink (Emoia cyanura)

This ‘species’ in fact isn’t a species in the common sense, it is most probably not monophyletic, that means the species’ name covers more than one species.

The Polynesian populations extend from Fiji into central Polynesia (Cook Islands, Society Islands) and east Polynesia (Tuamotu Archipelago). The western populations may be native, the central and eastern, however, were most probably imported by early Polynesian settlers.

There is still a lot to discover ….

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References:

[1] Walter C. Brown: Lizards of the genus Emoia (Scincidae) with observations on their evolution and biogeography. California Academy of Sciences, 1991
[2] Emilio M. Bruna; Robert N. Fisher; Ted J. Case: Morphological and genetic evolution appear decoupled in Pacific skinks (Squamata: Scincidae: Emoia). Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 263: 681-688. 1996
[3] Robert Fisher; Moeumu Uili; Czarina Iese; Fialelei Enoka: Reptiles of the Aleipata Islands: Surveys 2009–2010. In: Alan Tye, David J. Butler: Restoration of Nu’utele and Nu’ulua Islands (Aleipata Group), Samoa, through the management of introduced rats and ants. Conservation International Pacific Islands Program 2013

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emoia-cyanura-dpr

Photo: Dr. Paddy Ryan; by courtesy of Dr. Paddy Ryan

http://www.ryanphotographic.com

Egretta sacra (Gmelin)

Pacific Reef-Egret (Egretta sacra ssp. sacra)

The Pacific Reef-Egret is an about 60 cm large, rather short-legged egret, that lives predominantly in coastal areas.

The birds occur in mangrove-filled estuaries or along rocky shores, where they feed on small fish, mollusks and crustaceans.

The nominate race of this species occurs from South and Southeast Asia to Australia and into almost the whole pacific region (with the exception of New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, where the ssp. albolineata (G. R. Gray) occurs).

In some regions of Polynesia the Pacific Reef-Egret is nowadays the only surviving of the native bird species.

There are three color morphs, dark slate grey colored birds, pure white birds as well as an intermediate phase that is mottled white with dark slate grey. It is a somewhat strange fact, that in some areas, for example New Zealand and Samoa, only birds of one of these morphs (in both cases the dark morph) are breeding, while in other places all three morphs live together.

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egretta-s-sacra-ps

Photo: Phil Swanson; by courtesy of Ross Silcock

http://www.rosssilcock.com

Rhyncogonus vagus Van Dyke

Fanning Rhyncogonus Weevil (Rhyncogonus vagus)

The Fanning Rhyncogonus Weevil is a middle-sized species, the males are about 0,8 cm, the females 1 cm long.

The species is blackish in colour, and its antennae and legs are more or less rufous. It is densely clothed above with gray pile, which give the beetle an somewhat pruinose appearance, the under surface is more finely and sparsely pilose.

When this species was discovered on Tabuaeran atoll (formerly known as Fanning Island), it was intenionally thought to represent an recent introduction from one of the Hawaiian Islands. It later turned out to be quite distinct from all Hawaiian species, and was therefore described as a new species, endemic to Tabuaeran (Another endemic species from the genus was later found on another of Kiribati’s islands, Kiritimati.). [1][2]

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References:

[1] Edwin C. Van Dyke: Rhyncogonus of the Mangarevan Expedition. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 13(11): 89-129. 1937
[2] G. A. Samuelson: Review of Rhyncogonus of the Hawaiian Islands (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Bishop Museum in Entomology 11: 1-107. 2003

Bidens kiribatiensis Sayre & Ganders

Bidens kiribatiensis

Distribution:

Kiribati: Starbuck Island

local names: –

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References:

[1] Cynthia Sayre: A new species of Bidens (Asteraceae: Heliantheae) from Starbuck Island provides evidence for a second colonization of Pacific islands by the genus. The University of British Columbia 2001

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bidens-kiribatiensis-akk

Photo: Angela K. Keppler; by courtesy of Angela K. Keppler

http://www.pbif.org

Lepturus repens (J. R. Forst.) R. Br.

Lepturus repens

Distribution:

Austral Islands: Maria, Raivavae, Rimatara, Rurutu, Tubuai
Cook Islands: ‘Atiu, Mangaia, Manihiki, Manuae, Ma’uke, Miti’aro, Nassau, Palmerston, Pukapuka, Rakahanga, Rarotonga, Suwarrow, Takutea, Tongareva
Fiji: Aiwa, Batiki, Fulaga, Gau, Kabara, Kadavu, Kanacea, Koro, Mago, Matuku, Nasoata, Nayau, Nukulau, Ovalau, Rotuma, Taveuni, Toberua, Totoya, Vanua Balavu, Vanua Levu, Vatulele, Viti Levu
Gambier Islands: Agakauitai, Aukena, Akamaru, Kamaka, Mangareva, Taravai
Hawai’i Islands: French Frigate Shoals, Kure, Laysan, Lehua, Lisianski, Midway, Pearl and Hermes Reef
Kiribati: Abariringa, Baker Island, Enderbury Island, Flint Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Karoraina, Kiritimati, Manra, McKean Island, Nikumaroro, Orona, Palmyra Atoll, Starbuck Island, Tabuaeran, Teraina
New Zealand: North Chanter Island (Kermadec Islands)
Norfolk Islands: Norfolk Island
Pitcairn Islands: Henderson Island, Oeno, Pitcairn Island
Samoa: ‘Aunu’u, Fanuatapu, Namu’a, Nu’ulua, Nu’utele, Ofu, Olosega, Savai’i, Ta’u, Tutuila
Society Islands: Bora Bora, Huahine, Mai’ao, Manuae, Maupiti, Me’eti’a, Mo’orea, Mopelia, Ra’iatea, Taha’a, Tahiti, Tetiaroa, Tupai
Tokelau: Atafu, Fakaofo, Nukunonu, Olohega
Tonga: ‘Ata, ‘Eua, Makaha’a, Manima, Maninita, Monuafe, Oneata, Polo’a, Tongatapu, Velitoa Hihifo
Tuamotu Archipelago: Anaa, Makatea, Matureivavao, Niau, Nukutepipi, Rangiroa, Raroia, Takapoto, Takume, Tenararo, Tenarunga, Tepoto Nord, Tikehau, Toau, Vahanga, Vanavana
Tuvalu: Funafuti, Niutao, Nui, Vaitupu
Wallis & Futuna: Alofi, Futuna, ‘Uvea

local names: –