Native Plants Society pitching in for cave spider

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is poised to get help from residents to help preserve habitats for two federally protected cave invertebrates in Po’ipu.

The Kaua’i wolf spider and the Kaua’i cave amphipod are endangered species for which federal protective zones are being proposed in South Kaua’i. Fish and Wildlife are proposing critical habitat designations for about 4,000 acres in Koloa and Po’ipu for the two blind cave species.

On Saturday, March 15, the Kauai Native Plants Society has planned an outing to help restore habitats for the cave spider on the grounds at the Kiahuna Golf Club.

The work project starts at 9 a.m. and will include a briefing and some weeding around native plants in the area. Participants are asked to bring water, gloves and a hat. Lunch will be available for purchase at Joe’s On the Green restaurant.

The Kiahuna Golf Course is reputed to be home to the second largest population of Kaua’i cave amphipods known to exist.

The amphipod, which is said to live in caves under the golf course, is a tiny crustacean that feeds on old and decaying wood. The amphipod is the primary prey for the cave wolf spider.

The golf course club has taken the lead in preserving the endangered creatures through its participation in the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, according to Ellen Coulombe, a supporter of the cave spider project.

Representatives for the club have begun the first phase of restoring habitats for the cave organisms by planting native plants above the cave openings, Coulombe said. The roots of the plants will provide food for the cave organisms.

Endangered plants are among the native plants that have been planted. They include the nanu and the alula.

The plants will help raise awareness among residents and visitors on the whereabouts of the cave organisms, Coulombe said.

To foster the repopulation of the two species, Fish and Wildlife provided funds to close the cave with a rock wall and a stainless steel gate.

The improvements are intended to prevent unauthorized entry and to create an inviting humid environment for the cave organisms, helping to foster their repopulation.

Plans call for signs to be put up in front of tee 11 on the golf course. For more information on the Kaua’i Native Plants Society project, call Ellen Coulombe at 332-0145 or mailto:coulombe@hawaiian.net.

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