TCS 2010 Grants

Cycas micronesica on the Island of Yap

Thomas Marler
University of Guam

27 May 2010


The Cycad Society

Research, Conservation and Grants Committee


Subject: Informal request for funds


I am writing to request funds to work within Cycas micronesica habitats on the island of Yap. We are at an interesting stage in the developing threats to this species. The fact that we have learned so much in the past few years also allows us to identify critical gaps in knowledge. Current range for C. micronesica includes the islands that comprise the state of Palau and the islands of Yap, Guam, and Rota. Cycad aulacaspis scale (Aulacaspis yasumatsui) and the predator Rhyzobius lophanthae are now established on Guam, Rota, and several of the Palau islands. This predator is responsible for saving the individuals that are still alive, but it is not fully protecting the plants from mortality for several reasons. We are in the process of rearing a parasitoid on Oahu, and already have the permits to introduce it to Guam. If it establishes and picks up the slack where the predator is not effective, the two biological control agents working in tandem may thwart further mortality.


We have just completed a USDA project in which we studied the genetic relations of the plants among the islands. The results indicate at least two populations within the Palau islands do not belong to Cycas micronesica. One of these populations lumps with C. rumphii plants in the closest Indonesian islands. The other Palau islandís plants do not conform to any described species. This genomics work has shown that the Yap population is the oldest population and the most pristine genetically. Yap is also the only island that has not been invaded by Aulacaspis yasumatsui. Therefore, this is an ideal time to focus on Yap.


I am asking for $2,500 to support three trips over the next year. The trips will be six months apart, and the primary purpose is to scout the Cycas micronesica populations to ensure an invasion of Aulacaspis yasumatsui has not occurred, then to ensure that we are ready to introduce biological control rapidly if one of the trips reveals a recent invasion. The secondary purpose of the initial trip is to conduct a thorough census and collect demography data. These data will provide the information needed to describe the general health of the Yap population as defined by its structure, then provide pre-invasion data for comparison if an invasion does occur at some point in the future. With daily flights from Guam to Yap, an invasion remains highly likely.


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This page was updated on Sunday, 13 June 2010.