Rediscovery and Uncertain Future of High-Elevation Haleakala Carabid Beetles (Coleoptera)

Recent biotic surveys in subalpine shrubland on Haleakalā Volcano, Maui, Hawai'i, have resulted in rediscovery of several species of carabid beetles previously known only from their nineteenth-century type specimens. Blackburnia lenta (Sharp), described from specimens collected just below Haleakalā summit in 1894, was found at lower elevational sites ranging from 2,400 to 2,750 m. Mecyclothorax rusticus Sharp, last seen in 1896, and M. nubicola (Blackburn), collected only in 1878, were also rediscovered in that vicinity. Recent collections of B. lenta contradict the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's previous classification of this species as one likely to be extinct. Nevertheless, B. lenta's known distribution comprises only 145 ha within an elevational zone that is bounded above and below by unicolonial populations of the invasive alien Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr). The known recent collections of M. rusticus and M. nubicola also occurred outside the distributional range of the Argentine ant. Mature eggs held in the lateral oviducts of B. lenta females averaged 1.4x the volume of the largest eggs previously reported among 13 species of Blackburnia. We hypothesize that the giant eggs of B. lenta result from selective forces favoring large, well-nourished developing and hatched first-instar larvae, consistent with a patchy distribution of suitable microhabitat and prey in the subalpine Haleakalā landscape. The specialized life history of B. lenta, and coincidence of distributional limits of the three rediscovered carabid species with range limits of the Argentine ant populations suggest that all would be jeopardized by future distributional expansion of Argentine ant. These intersecting phenomena compel us to conclude that B. lenta, M. nubicola, and M. nubicola are appropriate candidates for I.U.C.N. threatened species designation, pending further studies of their geographic ranges and historical trends in abundance.