Fimbristylis cymosa R. Br.

Hurricane-Grass (Fimbristylis cymosa)

Distribution:

Austral Islands: Rimatara, Rurutu, Tubuai
Cook Islands: ‘Atiu, Mangaia, Manihiki, Manuae, Ma’uke, Miti’aro, Nassau, Palmerston, Pukapuka, Rakahanga, Rarotonga, Suwarrow, Tongareva
Fiji: Rotuma, Viti Levu
Gambier Islands: Mangareva, Taravai, Totegegie
Hawai’i Islands: French Frigate Shoals, Hawai’i, Kaua’i, Kure, Lana’i, Laysan, Lehua, Maui, Midway, Moloka’i, Ni’ihau, O’ahu
Kiribati: Abariringa, Baker Island, Enderbury Island, Jarvis Island, Kiritimati, Manra, Nikumaroro, Orona, Palmyra-Atoll, Tabuaeran, Teraina
Marquesas: Eiao, Ua Huka
Niue
Pitcairn Islands: Henderson Island
Samoa: ‘Aunu’u, Fanuatapu, Nu’ulua, Nu’utele, Ofu, Olosega, Savai’i, Ta’u, Tutuila
Society Islands: Bora Bora, Huahine, Maiao, Me’eti’a, Mo’orea, Ra’iatea, Taha’a, Tahiti, Tetiaroa, Tupai
Tokelau: Atafu, Fakaofo, Nukunonu, Olohega
Tonga: ‘Eua, Fafa, Fukave, Malinoa, Manima
Tuamotu Archipelago: Apataki, Hao, Makatea, Manihi, Niau, Rangiroa, Takapoto, Tenarunga, Tikehau, Toau
Tuvalu: Nui
Wallis & Futuna: Futuna, ‘Uvea

local name:

mati upoo – Tuamotu Archipelago
mauku – ‘Atiu, Manihiki, Rakahanga, Tongareva / Cook Islands
mau’u’aki’aki – Hawai’i Islands
mouku – Tuamotu Archipelago
kukuti – Tuamotu Archipelago
pako pako – Tahiti / Society Islands
papa ‘enua – Ma’uke / Cook Islands
pupu – Rotuma / Fiji
te uteute ni mane – Kiribati
tuise – Tokelau
tumu ‘enua – Palmerston / Cook Islands
uti’uti hu’a – Society Islands
vayavaya – Nassau, Pukapuka / Cook Islands

~~~

Two of three accepted subspecies of this species are known to occur within the Polynesian region, Fimbristylis cymosa ssp. cymosa R. Br. and Fimbristylis cymosa ssp. umbellatocapitata (Hillebr.) T. Koyama.

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References:

[1] Albert C. Smith: Flora Vitiensis Nova: A new flora of Fiji (Spermatophytes only). Vol. 1. Lawai, Kauai, Hawaii 1979

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Ocypode pallidula Jacquinot in Hombron & Jacquinot

Common Ghost-Crab (Ocypode pallidula)

The Common Ghost-Crab is indigenous in the Indo-Pacific region, where it can be found running about the beaches in search for food, and digging burrows in the sand.

It is a rather small species, reaching a carapace size of about 2,5 cm in diameter.

On the Cook Islands, where the species seems to be very common, it is known by several names, including ‘atike, kalami, kohiti, kohitihiti, ko’iti, tike, tiketike and titorotai.

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Photo: J. Poupin; by courtesy of J. Poupin

http://decpoda.ecole-navale.fr/index.php
http://decapoda.free.fr

Hippotion velox (Fabricius)

Swift Hawk Moth (Hippotion velox)

In January 2002 the small island of Maninita in the Tongan Vava’u group was hit by the cyclone Waka, one of the most destructive tropical cyclones ever to affect the Tongan islands. The island’s forest, dominated by three tree species, puopua (Guettarda speciosa L.), fao (Ochrosia oppositifolia (Lam.) K. Schum) and puko (Pisonia grandis R. Br.), was indeed badly damaged, but the trees appeared not to have been defoliated by the cyclone itself but by an immense outbreak of caterpillars following the disaster.

These caterpillars were identified as belonging to the Fijian Bee Hawk Moth (Cephonodes armatus Rothschild & Jordan) and to the Swift Hawk Moth (Hippotion velox), whose occurrence on the Tongan islands was verified thereby for the first time.

~~~

The Swift Hawk Moth is a middle-sized species, reaching a wingspan of 5,5 to 7,5 cm.

The species has a wide distribution and occurs from Asia and Australia to Polynesia, where it is now known from the Cook Islands, the Fijian Islands, from Samoa and the Tokelauan atolls. The Swift Hawk Moth has only recently begun to colonize New Zealand as well.

The caterpillars are able to use a wide range of plant species as food, including members from the Aroid family (Araceae), the Morning Glory family (Convolvulaceae), the Four O’Clock family (Nyctaginaceae) and the Coffee family (Rubiaceae).

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References:

[1] Alden D. Hinckley: Ecology of Terrestrial Arthropods on the Tokelau Atolls. Atoll Research Bulletin 124: 1-18. 1969
[2] Karin S. Kami; Scott E. Miller: Samoan Insects and related Arthropods: Checklist and Bibliography. Bishop Museum Technical Report 13. 1998
[3] D. M. Houston: Eradicating rats from Maninita Island, Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga August 2002. New Zealand Agency for International Development, Tonga Visitors Bureau, Ministry of Land, Survey and Natural Resources, Department of Environment, Kingdom of Tonga

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Photo: John A. Clayton; by courtesy of John A. Clayton

http://www.usp.ac.fj/fijimoths

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edited: 29.06.2017

Coenobita perlatus H. Milne Edwards

Strawberry Hermit Land Crab (Coenobita perlatus)

This species is distributed throughout the whole tropical Indopacific region, from the coasts of Africa up to East Polynesia, where it can be found in large numbers especially on the atolls of the Tuamotu Archipelago.

The animals mostly stay close to the beaches, where they feed on all applicable things they can get, including seeds washed up to the beach or fallen coconuts, but also washed up fish and dead seabirds.

Strawberry Hermit Land Crabs prefer the shells of sea snails of the genus Turbo.

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References:

[1] Alden D. Hinckley: Ecology of Terrestrial Arthropods on the Tokelau Atolls. Atoll Research Bulletin 124: 1-18. 1969
[2] J. C. Yaldwyn; Kasimierz Wodzicki: Systematics and ecology of the land crabs (Decapoda: Coenobitidae, Grapsidae and Gecarcinidae) of the Tokelau Islands, Central Pacific. Atoll Research Bulletin 235: 1-59. 1979
[3] S. A. Hathaway; K. McEachern; R. N. Fisher: Terrestrial Forest Management Plan for Palmyra Atoll: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1007, 78 p. 2011

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Photo: J. Poupin; by courtesy of J. Poupin

http://decapoda.ecole-navale.fr/index.php
http://decapoda.free.fr

Ocypode ceratophthalma (Pallas)

Horn-eyed Ghost-Crab (Ocypode ceratophthalma)

The Horn-eyed Ghost-Crab is indigenous to the Indo-Pacific, where it occurs from the coasts of East Africa far into Polynesia, where the animals run about the beaches in search for edible things, including washed up dead fish, or dead sea birds, but also newly hatched sea turtles.

It is a quite large species with a carapace size of up to 8 cm in diameter. It can be distinguished from other related crabs by the eyestalks extending beyond the eyes into long points, those stalks are longer in males, and shorter or almost absent in females.

In Samoa, the species is called avi’ivi’i resp. pa’a.

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ocypode-ceratophthalma-jp

Photo: J. Poupin; by courtesy of J. Poupin

http://decpoda.ecole-navale.fr/index.php
http://decapoda.free.fr

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

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

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: –