Fera provides training on invasive ants and plant pest species for conservation staff in St. Helena

Fera

Fera provides training on invasive ants and plant pest species for conservation staff in St. Helena

Martina Peters (Head of Conservation) and Liza Fowler (Cloud Forest Invertebrate Specialist) of St. Helena’s National Trust visited Fera on 4th to 5th August 2022 to learn how to identify invasive ants and plant pest species that pose a high risk to the biosecurity of the island in which Fera has been supporting through UKOT Projects under DEFRA funding.

St. Helena is a volcanic island with a subtropical climate in the South Atlantic Ocean. The island has an astonishing array of biodiversity which is threatened due to the introduction of non-native species that may cause a significant negative impact on the ecosystem. The ancient cloud forest in the centre of the island is of global importance as is holds approximately 250 species that are found nowhere else on Earth.

Among the groups of concern that the visitors were taught to identify were ants by Noel Tawatao, spiders and flies by Rob Deady, leaf-mining flies by Charlie Griffiths and eriophyid mite damage by James Thorpe.

Ants are of particular concern as they can have a devastating impact on island ecosystems, for example, the invasive yellow crazy ant on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, threatens the endemic land crab fauna, alters rain forest structure and composition, and disrupts ecosystem processes.

Developing the diagnostic capacity of the conservation staff in St Helena will help them identify potentially invasive species so that appropriate action can be taken to mitigate the impact and protect the unique environment and biodiversity of the territory.

 

Noel showing the visitors from St Helena how to recognise invasive ants

 

Rob showing the visitors from St Helena how to recognise invasive spiders

 

Charlie showing the visitors from St Helena how to recognise invasive leaf-mining flies

 

James with Martina Peters (Head of Conservation) and Liza Fowler (Cloud Forest Invertebrate Specialist) from St Helena

 

Saint Helena, cloud forest on Diana’s Peak © C. Malumphy

 

Saint Helena, examples of endemic invertebrates: spiky yellow woodlouse; blue leafhopper; and the blushing snail © C. Malumphy

 

 

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