Hawaiian Damsels in Distress

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to list two species of Hawaiian damselflies, the flying earwig Hawaiian damselfly and the Pacific Hawaiian damselfly, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
     The agency’s listing recommendation is based on a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, which noted a tremendous reduction in available habitat for the insects, over time. The early Hawaiians diverted water from streams to farm taro, a staple crop. Then sugar cane farmers converted streams to irrigation to the point that stream beds often are dry, and finally, native forests were degraded throughout the 20th century.
     The petition states that an estimated 30 percent of all coastal plain wetlands in Hawaii already have been lost to agriculture and urban development, and that lowland freshwater habitat in Hawaii already approaches 80 to 90 percent.

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