Tinostoma smaragditis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Lepidoptera Sphingidae

Scientific Name: Tinostoma smaragditis (Meyrick, 1899)
Common Name(s):
English Fabulous Green Sphinx Moth, Fabulous Green Sphinx Of Kauai

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Heddle, M.L.
Reviewer(s): Hilton-Taylor, C. & Pollock, C.M. (Red List Programme Office)
In 1996, Tinostoma smaragditis was assessed as Extinct. However, in 1997, Dr. Adam Asquith (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and Mandy Heddle (University of Hawai'i), initiated surveys in the mesic forests to the west of Kokee State Park. In February 1998, Dr. Asquith succeeded in attracting a male Tinostoma to a light trap. Another male was caught in another part of the island in October 1998, photographed, marked and released. Two females were found in eastern Kauai by Jan Nakamura. Both were released. In view of the recent rediscoveries, the status was changed to Data Deficient in 2003, pending a full reassessment of the species.

T. smaragditis occurs only in a few areas of native forest on Kauai. The total area of Kauai is only 1,624 km². The area of Kauai where most specimens were collected has been hit by hurricanes and there is evidence to suggest that the hurricanes caused an increase in invasive plant species. This area also contains the highest diversity of threatened plants in the Hawaiian Islands.

Given the restricted range of this species, the few known localities and ongoing threats to habitat, it is now reassessed as Endangered.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Kauai, Hawaii.
Countries occurrence:
United States (Hawaiian Is.)
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Tinostoma smaragditis has been recorded a total of 15 times from Western Kauai, Hawaii over a period of 110 years. Ten of these individuals were collected at lights at a military tracking station situated above diverse mesic forest — a lowland forest type with no dominant species (Wagner et al. 1990). The other five specimens were collected at lower elevations within or near to the diverse mesic forest habitat. Two male moths were collected in the diverse mesic forest in 1998 representing the first time that the moth has been intentionally searched for and found. Almost all other searching took place in the Kokee Region of Kauai in the vicinity of the tracking station, which is dominated by wet forest, and is considered high elevation forest as opposed to the low elevation of the diverse mesic forest (Wagner et al. 1990). The island of Kauai has a total land area of 1,624 km². Diverse mesic forest habitat covers considerably less than the entire island, however, it is not thought to be less than 800 km².

There have been at least 80 separate collecting events in search for Lepidoptera on Kauai over the past hundred years, predominantly in the Kokee region (Heddle unpubl. data). In addition, in the 1920s a mainland collector sent the entomologist, Kusche, to Hawaii specifically to search for the green sphinx with no luck (Zimmerman 1958) and throughout the 1980s, a local lepidopterist, Father Riotte, collected regularly in the Kokee region. Riotte’s collection work has provided a wealth of data on the Lepidoptera in the Kokee region, yet it is notable that he never encountered the Green Sphinx (Heddle unpubl. data). In spite of this collecting effort, only fifteen moths have ever been collected. Yet both times the moth was intentionally searched for and found, it flew directly to the light and was easily captured. This suggests that either the moth is restricted to a very small range and that in 1998 we collected in exactly the right region, and/or that the moth is extremely rare.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Historically, collecting efforts were concentrated in wet forest habitats and these efforts were mostly unsuccessful. Given the relative success of collecting efforts in diverse mesic forest areas, it is reasonable to assume that the moth's habitat is lowland mesic forest.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Kauai has the largest number of endemic plants of all the Hawaiian islands and lowland mesic forest contains the greatest number of endemic plant taxa and the greatest number of endemic plant taxa at risk (Sakai 2002). Plant taxa with single-island distributions are generally more threatened than those with multiple island distributions (Sakai et al. 2002). As the host-plant for Tinostoma is still unknown, it is possible that plants necessary for its survival are either restricted in distribution or are themselves at risk. Therefore, in addition to the species’ overall range being limited, it's microhabitat requirements may also be restricted.

The native vegetation of Hawaii is known to have undergone extreme alteration because of past and present land management practices including ranching, deliberate introduction of alien plants and animals and agricultural development. Some of the primary threats facing this species' habitat are ongoing and future modification and destruction of mesic forest habitat by feral animals (goats and axis deer) and alien invasive plants. It is not known if these threats impact the species directly or indirectly. But it is possible that the host food plants for this moth (currently unknown) may be highly threatened, by the above factors.

In September 1992 the eye of Hurricane Iniki passed over Northwest Kauai, causing much damage to the forests as large areas of forest were opened up allowing for the movement of non-native invasive plants into the region.

The mesic forest on Kauai is managed by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). In addition to hurrican distrubance, this land is subject to disruption by feral mammals such as pigs, rats, and goats. Pigs and goats are especially destructive in this area, and their presence is permitted as DLNR lands are available for hunting. Pigs tear up tree ferns and other vegetation, and goats will decimate an area's native vegetation. A number of goats, and goat damage, has been observed in the Mahanaloa region where the green sphinx was first collected by Asquith and Heddle (M. Heddle, pers. comm.).

Rare butterflies and moths are highly prized by collectors and there is an international market for such species. There is no known trade in this species, although Sphinx moths in general are sought by collectors and there has been a standing reward for specimens of Tinostoma smaragditis (Zimmerman 1958).

The introduction of alien invasive invertebartes (e.g., the Argentine Ant (Iridomyrex humlis) and parasitic wasps) is known to have an impact on the native arthropods, so that may be another threat to this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There is currently no protection for this species. A recent attempt (it was listed as a Candidate species) to have it listed on the U.S. Endangered Species Act has failed because of insufficient information concerning species-specific threats and lack of information on the status of this species.

Citation: Heddle, M.L. 2004. Tinostoma smaragditis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004: e.T21913A9339981. . Downloaded on 20 September 2018.
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