[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 197 (Tuesday, October 13, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 61567-61607]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-25298]



[[Page 61567]]

Vol. 80

Tuesday,

No. 197

October 13, 2015

Part II





Department of the Interior





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Fish and Wildlife Service





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50 CFR Part 17





Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Endangered 
Status for Five Species From American Samoa; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 80 , No. 197 / Tuesday, October 13, 2015 / 
Proposed Rules

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2015-0128; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-AZ97


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed 
Endangered Status for Five Species From American Samoa

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to 
list as endangered species two endemic American Samoan land snails, the 
American Samoa distinct population segment of the friendly ground-dove, 
the Pacific sheath-tailed bat, (South Pacific subspecies), and the mao, 
under the Endangered Species Act (Act). If we finalize this rule as 
proposed, it would extend the Act's protections to these species. The 
effect of this regulation will be to add these species to the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before 
December 14, 2015. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES below) must be received by 11:59 p.m. 
Eastern Time on the closing date. We must receive requests for public 
hearings, in writing, at the address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT by November 27, 2015.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R1-ES-2015-0128, 
which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the Search 
panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, 
click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You may 
submit a comment by clicking on ``Comment Now!''
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R1-ES-2015-0128; Division of Policy, 
Performance, and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 
5275 Leesburg Pike, MS: BPHC; Falls Church, VA 22041.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This 
generally means that we will post any personal information you provide 
us (see Public Comments below for more information).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary Abrams, Field Supervisor, Pacific 
Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Honolulu, HI 
96850, by telephone 808-792-9400 or by facsimile 808-792-9581. Persons 
who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the 
Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Summary

    Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Act, if a species is 
determined to be an endangered or threatened species throughout all or 
a significant portion of its range, we are required to promptly publish 
a proposal in the Federal Register and make a determination on our 
proposal within 1 year. Critical habitat shall be designated, to the 
maximum extent prudent and determinable, for any species determined to 
be an endangered or threatened species under the Act. Listing a species 
as an endangered or threatened species and designations and revisions 
of critical habitat can only be completed by issuing a rule. We intend 
to publish a separate rule addressing designation of critical habitat 
for the five species in American Samoa.
    This rule proposes the listing of the two American Samoa land 
snails, Eua zebrina (no common name) and Ostodes strigatus (no common 
name), the American Samoa distinct population segment (DPS) of the 
friendly ground-dove (Gallicolumba stairi), and two species from 
American Samoa (extirpated), Western Polynesia, and Melanesia, the 
Pacific sheath-tailed bat (South Pacific subspecies) (Emballonura 
semicaudata semicaudata) and the mao (Gymnomyza samoensis) as 
endangered species. These five species are candidate species for which 
we have on file sufficient information on biological vulnerability and 
threats to support preparation of a listing proposal, but for which 
development of a listing regulation has been precluded by other higher 
priority listing activities. This rule reassesses all available 
information regarding status of and threats to these five species.
    The basis for our action. Under the Act, we can determine that a 
species is an endangered or threatened species based on any of five 
factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) Overutilization for 
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) 
Disease or predation; (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms; or (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its 
continued existence. One or more of the five candidate species face one 
or more of the following threats:
     Habitat loss and fragmentation or degradation due to 
agriculture and urban development, nonnative ungulates, and nonnative 
plants.
     Collection for commercial purposes (snails only).
     Predation by feral cats, rats, nonnative snails, and 
nonnative flatworms.
     Inadequate existing regulatory mechanisms.
     Small numbers of individuals and populations.

Environmental effects from climate change are likely to exacerbate 
these threats, and may become a threat to all five species in the 
future.

    We will seek peer review. We will seek comments from independent 
specialists to ensure that our designation is based on scientifically 
sound data, assumptions, and analyses in accordance with our joint 
policy on peer review published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 
(59 FR 34270). We will invite these peer reviewers to comment on our 
listing proposal. Because we will consider all comments and information 
received during the comment period, our final determinations may differ 
from this proposal.

Information Requested

Public Comments

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule 
will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and 
be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request 
comments or information from the public, other concerned governmental 
agencies, the American Samoa Government (ASG), the scientific 
community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning this 
proposed rule. For the Pacific sheath-tailed bat and the mao, we also 
request comments or information from the CITES (Convention on 
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) 
management and scientific authorities or authority competent to issue 
comparable documentation in the countries of Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, and 
Vanuatu. We particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) The species' biology, range, and population trends, including:

[[Page 61569]]

    (a) Biological or ecological requirements of the species, including 
habitat requirements for feeding, breeding, and sheltering;
    (b) Genetics and taxonomy;
    (c) Historical and current range including distribution patterns;
    (d) Historical and current population levels, and current and 
projected trends; and
    (e) Past and ongoing conservation measures for these species, their 
habitats, or both.
    (2) Factors that that may affect the continued existence of these 
species, which may include habitat modification or destruction, 
overutilization, disease, predation, the inadequacy of existing 
regulatory mechanisms, or other natural or manmade factors.
    (3) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threats (or lack thereof) to these species and existing regulations 
that may be addressing those threats.
    (4) Empirical data or other scientific information describing the 
specific impacts of climate change on the habitat, life history, and/or 
ecology of these species, for example, the species' biological 
response, or likely response, to changes in habitat resulting from 
climate-change related changes in ambient temperature, precipitation, 
drought, or storm severity.
    (5) Additional information concerning the historical and current 
status, ranges, distributions, and population sizes of these species, 
including the locations of any additional populations of these species.
    (6) Although we are not proposing to designate critical habitat at 
this time, we request information about the quality and extent of areas 
within U.S. jurisdiction (i.e., in American Samoa) that may qualify as 
critical habitat for the proposed species. Specifically, we are 
soliciting the identification of particular areas within the 
geographical area occupied by these species in American Samoa that 
include physical or biological features that are essential to the 
conservation of these species and that may require special management 
considerations or protection (16 U.S.C. 1532(5)(A)(i)). Essential 
features may include, but are not limited to, features specific to 
individual species' ranges, habitats, and life history characteristics 
within the following general categories of habitat features: (1) Space 
for individual growth and for normal behavior; (2) food, water, air, 
light, minerals, or other nutritional or physiological requirements; 
(3) cover or shelter; (4) sites for breeding, reproduction and 
development of offspring; and (5) habitats that are protected from 
disturbance or are representative of the historical, geographical, and 
ecological distributions of the species (50 CFR 424.12(b)). Areas 
outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of 
listing should also be identified, if such areas are essential for the 
conservation of the species (16 U.S.C. 1532(5)(A)(ii)). Unlike for 
occupied habitat, such areas are not required to contain physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the species. ESA 
implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(h) specify that critical 
habitat shall not be designated within foreign countries or in other 
areas outside of U.S. jurisdiction. Therefore, we request information 
only on potential areas of critical habitat within locations under U.S. 
jurisdiction.
    Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as 
scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to 
verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
    Please note that submissions merely stating support for or 
opposition to the action under consideration without providing 
supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in 
making a determination, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that 
determinations as to whether any species is a threatened or endangered 
species must be made ``solely on the basis of the best scientific and 
commercial data available.''
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We request 
that you send comments only by the methods described in the ADDRESSES 
section.
    If you submit information via http://www.regulations.gov, your 
entire submission--including any personal identifying information--will 
be posted on the Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy 
that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the 
top of your document that we withhold this information from public 
review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We 
will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov. 
Please include sufficient information with your comments to allow us to 
verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Public Hearing

    Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for one or more public hearings 
on this proposal, if requested. Requests must be received within 45 
days after the date of publication of this proposed rule in the Federal 
Register. Such requests must be sent to the address shown in FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. We will schedule public hearings on this 
proposal, if any are requested, and announce the dates, times, and 
places of those hearings, as well as how to obtain reasonable 
accommodations, in the Federal Register and local newspapers at least 
15 days before the hearing.

Previous Federal Action

    All five species proposed for listing are candidate species. 
Candidate species are those taxa for which the Service has sufficient 
information on their biological status and threats to propose them for 
listing under the Act, but for which the development of a listing 
regulation has been precluded to date by other higher priority listing 
activities. The species addressed in this proposed rule are the Pacific 
sheath-tailed bat, the mao, the American Samoa DPS of the friendly 
ground-dove, and two American Samoa land snails, Eua zebrina and 
Ostodes strigatus. The candidate status of all of these species was 
most recently assessed and reaffirmed in the December 4, 2014, Review 
of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or 
Threatened (CNOR) (79 FR 72450).
    On May 4, 2004, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the 
Secretary of the Interior to list 225 species of plants and animals, 
including four of the five candidate species listed above, as 
endangered or threatened under the provisions of the Act. Since then, 
we have published our annual findings on the May 4, 2004, petition 
(including our findings on the candidate species listed above) in the 
CNORs dated May 11, 2005 (70 FR 24870), September 12, 2006 (71 FR 
53756), December 6, 2007 (72 FR 69034), December 10, 2008 (73 FR 
75176), November 9, 2009 (74 FR 57804), November 10, 2010 (75 FR 
69222), October 26, 2011 (76 FR 66370), November 21, 2012 (77 FR 
69994), November 22, 2013 (78 FR 70104), and December 4, 2014 (79 FR 
72450). This proposed rule constitutes a further response to the 2004 
petition.
    In 2014, the Service evaluated the status and threats for the fifth 
candidate species, the mao. We determined that

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this species warranted listing as an endangered or threatened species 
under the Act and assigned a Listing Priority Number of 2 for this 
species (79 FR 72450, December 4, 2014).

Background

Species Addressed in This Proposed Rule

    The table below (Table 1) provides the common name, scientific 
name, listing priority, and range for the species that are the subjects 
of this proposed rule.

                                Table 1--Species Addressed in This Proposed Rule
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                                                                          Listing
 Common name  Samoan name or other local        Scientific name          priority         Range evaluated for
                  name                                                    number                listing
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                                                     MAMMALS
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Pacific sheath-tailed bat (South Pacific  Emballonura, semicaudata,                3  American Samoa, Fiji,
 subspecies), Beka beka, Peapea vai,       semicaudata.                                Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu.
 Tagiti.
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                                                      BIRDS
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Mao.....................................  Gymnomyza samoensis.......               2  American Samoa, Samoa.
Friendly (shy) ground-dove, Tuaimeo.....  Gallicolumba stairi.......               9  American Samoa DPS.
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                                                     SNAILS
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No common name..........................  Eua zebrina...............               2  American Samoa.
No common name..........................  Ostodes strigatus.........               2  American Samoa.
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The Samoan Archipelago

    The Samoan Archipelago consists of a remote chain of 13 islands and 
2 atolls in the Pacific Ocean south of the equator. These islands 
extend more than 298 miles (mi) (480 kilometers (km)) in an east-west 
orientation between 13 and 15 degrees south latitude, and 168 to 172 
degrees west longitude (Goldin 2002, p. 4). The islands date to the 
early Pleistocene and were formed as hot-spot shield volcanoes, with 
the older islands located on the western end of the chain (Thornberry-
Ehrlich 2008, pp. 16, 28). The archipelago is divided into two 
political entities, American Samoa, an unincorporated territory of the 
United States, and the independent nation of Samoa (Craig 2009, p. 5). 
American Samoa consists of five high islands and two atolls: Tutuila 
(the largest island; 54 square (sq) mi (140 sq km)); Aunuu (1 sq mi (2 
sq km)) off the southeast end of Tutuila; Ofu and Olosega (3.5 sq mi (9 
sq km)) separated by a narrow channel now spanned by a bridge; Tau (15 
sq mi (39 sq km)); Rose Atoll (1.5 sq mi (4 sq km)), a National 
Wildlife Refuge) with two uninhabited islands, Rose and Sand; and 
Swains Island (0.6 sq mi (1.5 sq km)), which is politically part of 
American Samoa, but geologically and biologically part of the Tokelau 
archipelago (Goldin 2002, pp. 5-6). These islands and atolls range in 
elevation from the high peak of Mt. Lata on Tau at 3,170 ft (966 meters 
(m)) to 4 to 6 ft (1 to 2 m) above sea level (asl) at Rose Atoll.
    American Samoa lies within the tropics, where it is hot, humid, and 
rainy year-round. The wet season is from October to May, with a 
slightly cooler and drier season from June through September. 
Temperatures average about 81.5 degrees Fahrenheit (F) (27 degrees 
Celsius (C)). Rainfall averages 125 inches (in) (318 centimeters (cm)) 
annually at lower elevations, but can vary greatly depending upon 
topography, reaching 300 in (750 cm) or greater annually in the 
mountain areas. Hurricanes are a common natural disturbance in the 
Samoan Archipelago, and occur at intervals of 1 to 13 years (Goldin 
2002, p. 7).
    In 2010, the population of American Samoa totaled 55,519 
individuals (U.S. Census 2011, in litt.). Because of the steep 
topography, most areas of the northern coastline of Tutuila are 
uninhabited, and most people live on the narrow coastal plain on the 
southern shore, within several hundred yards of the shoreline. The 
islanders practice extensive small-scale agriculture on plots inland of 
villages and in lowland rainforest on slopes that sometimes exceed 45 
degrees (Atkinson and Medeiros 2006, p. 4). Before the arrival of 
Polynesians approximately 3,000 years ago, the whole archipelago, 
except for recent lava flows or poorly drained areas, was likely 
covered by rain forest or cloud forest (Mueller-Dombois and Fosberg 
1998, p. 360).

Samoa

    The independent nation of Samoa (Samoa) is located less than 100 mi 
(160 km) west of Tutuila Island, American Samoa, and consists of two 
large inhabited islands, Upolu (424 sq mi (1,100 sq km)) and Savaii 
(703 sq mi (1,820 sq km)), and 8 small offshore islets, several of 
which are inhabited. Samoa lies between 13 to 14 degrees south latitude 
and 170 to 173 degrees west longitude and has a total land area of 
approximately 1,133 sq mi (2,934 sq km)) (Watling 2001, p. 26). The 
highest point in Samoa is Mt. Silisili on Savaii at 6,093 ft (1,857 m) 
asl. As discussed above, the Samoan archipelago is volcanic in origin 
with the islands sequentially formed in a generally eastern direction 
by a series of ``hot spot'' eruptions, starting with Savaii 
approximately at 2 million years of age (Keating 1992, p. 131).

Kingdom of Tonga

    The Kingdom of Tonga (Tonga) is located in the western South 
Pacific Ocean, approximately 560 mi (900 km) southwest of the Tutuila 
Island, American Samoa. The archipelago is spread over 500 mi (800 km) 
in a north-south direction between 15 to 23.5 degrees south latitude 
and 173 to 177 west degrees longitude (Australian Bureau of Meteorology 
(BOM) and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization 
(CSIRO) Australian BOM and CSIRO 2011, Vol. 2, p. 217). Tonga consists 
of four groups of islands: Tongatapu and Eua in the south, Haapai in 
the middle, Vavau in the north, and Niaufoou and Niua Toputapu in the 
far north. The 172 named islands have an area of 289 sq mi (748 sq km). 
The islands include high volcanic islands (maximum elevation 3,389 ft 
(1,033 m) asl), elevated limestone islands and low-lying

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coralline islands (Australian BOM and CSIRO 2011, Vol. 2, p. 217).

Republic of Fiji

    The Republic of Fiji (Fiji) is located in the western South Pacific 
Ocean approximately 777 mi (1250 km) west of Tutuila Island, American 
Samoa, between 16 to 20 degrees south latitude and 177 degrees east to 
178 degrees west longitude. Fiji consists of 322 islands (105 
inhabited) and a total land area of 7,078 sq mi (18,333 sq km) (Watling 
2001, p. 22). The two largest islands, Viti Levu (4,026 sq mi (10,429 
sq km)) and Vanua Levu (2,145 sq mi (5,556 sq km)), account for 87 
percent of the total land area and are mountainous and of volcanic 
origin with peaks up to 4,265 ft (1,300 m) asl (Australian BOM and 
CSIRO 2011, Vol. 2, p. 77). The other islands consist of small volcanic 
islands, low-lying atolls, and elevated reefs in the Northern and 
Southern Lau groups in the east, the centrally located Lomaiviti group, 
and the Yasawa group in the northwest (Watling 2001, p. 23).

Republic of Vanuatu

    The Republic of Vanuatu (Vanuatu) is an archipelago located in the 
western South Pacific Ocean, approximately 1,500 mi (2,400 km) west of 
Tutuila Island, American Samoa. Vanuatu lies between 13 to 21 south 
degrees latitude and 166 to 171 degrees east longitude and includes 
over 80 islands (about 65 of which are inhabited) with a total land 
area of 4,707 sq mi (12,190 sq km) (Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) 
2013). Larger islands in general are characterized by rugged volcanic 
peaks and tropical rainforests. The largest island is Espiritu Santo 
(1,527 sq mi (3,955 sq km)), which also contains the highest peak, 
Mount Tabwemasana (6,158 ft (1,877 m) asl) (Australia BOM and CSIRO 
2011, Vol. 2, p. 245).

Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands

    The Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands (Wallis and Futuna) 
is an overseas territory of France located approximately 496 mi (799 
km) west of Tutuila Island, American Samoa. Wallis and Futuna consists 
of three main islands (Wallis or Uvea, Futuna, and Alofi) and more than 
20 smaller islands, which lie between 13 to 14 south degrees latitude 
and 176 to 178 west degrees longitude (Watling 2001, pp. 36-37). The 
land area totals approximately 98 sq mi (255 sq km). Uvea is a low 
volcanic island with gentle relief, while Futuna and Alofi 
(uninhabited) are rugged mountainous islands with uplifted coral tiers 
(Dupon and Beaudou 1986, p. 1; Watling 2001, p. 36). The islands have 
experienced extensive deforestation due to the continued use of wood as 
the main fuel source (CIA 2009).

Pacific Sheath-Tailed Bat (South Pacific Subspecies), Emballonura 
semicaudata ssp. semicaudata, Peapea Vai (American Samoa), Tagiti 
(Samoa), Beka Beka (Fiji)

    The Pacific sheath-tailed bat is a member of the Emballonuridae, an 
Old World bat family that has an extensive distribution primarily in 
the tropics (Nowak 1994, pp. 90-91). A Samoan specimen was first 
described by Peale in 1848 as Vespertilio semicaudatus (Lyon and Osgood 
1909, p. 259). The species was later included in the genus Emballonura 
(Temminck 1838; cited in the Integrated Taxonomic Information System 
(ITIS) 2014) and is now known as Emballonura semicaudata (Smithsonian 
Institution 1909; Tate and Archbold 1939, p. 8). This species is a 
small bat. Males have a forearm length of about 1.8 in (45 millimeters 
(mm)), and weigh approximately 0.2 ounces (oz) (5.5 grams (g)), and 
females are slightly larger in size and weight (Lemke 1986, p. 744; 
Nowak 1994, p. 91; Flannery 1995, p. 326; Uyehara and Wiles 2009, p. 
5). The Pacific sheath-tailed bat was once common and widespread in 
Polynesia, eastern Melanesia, and Micronesia and is the only 
insectivorous bat recorded from a large part of this area (Hutson et 
al. 2001, p. 138). Sheath-tailed bats are rich brown to dark brown 
above and paler below (Walker and Paradiso 1983, p. 211). The common 
name ``sheath-tailed bat'' refers to the nature of the tail attachment: 
The tail pierces the tail membrane, and its tip appears completely free 
on the upper surface of the membrane (Walker and Paradiso 1983, p. 
209). The Pacific sheath-tailed bat (all subspecies) is listed as 
Endangered in the 2015 IUCN (International Union for Conservation of 
Nature) Red List (Bonaccorso and Allison 2008). Endangered is IUCN's 
second most severe category of extinction assessment, which equates to 
a very high risk of extinction in the wild. IUCN criteria include the 
rate of decline, population size, area of geographic distribution, and 
degree of population and distribution fragmentation; however, IUCN 
rankings do not confer any actual protection or management.
    Four subspecies of Pacific sheath-tailed bats are currently 
recognized: E. s. rotensis, endemic to the Mariana Islands (Guam and 
the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; proposed for listing 
as endangered in 2014 (79 FR 59363, October 1, 2014)), and referred to 
here as the Mariana subspecies); E. s. sulcata in Chuuk and Pohnpei; E. 
s. palauensis in Palau; and E. s. semicaudata in American Samoa, Samoa, 
Tonga, Fiji, and Vanuatu (Koopman 1997, pp. 358-360; Oyler-McCance et 
al. 2013, pp. 1,030-1,036), referred to here as the South Pacific 
subspecies. Recent analysis found notable genetic differences between 
E. s. rotensis, E. s. palauensis, and E. s. semicaudata, indeed greater 
differences than typically reported between mammalian subspecies 
(Oyler-McCance et al. 2013, p. 1,030). Hereafter, ``bat'' or ``Pacific 
sheath-tailed bat'' refers to the South Pacific subspecies unless 
otherwise noted.
    All subspecies of the Pacific sheath-tailed bat appear to be cave-
dependent, roosting during the day in a wide range of cave types, 
including overhanging cliffs, crevices, lava tubes, and limestone caves 
(Grant 1993, p. 51; Grant et al. 1994, pp. 134-135; Hutson et al. 2001, 
p. 139; Palmeirim et al. 2005, p. 28). Large roosting colonies appear 
fairly common in the Palau subspecies, but smaller aggregations may be 
more typical of at least the Mariana subspecies and perhaps other 
species of Emballonura (Wiles et al. 1997, pp. 221-222; Wiles and 
Worthington 2002, pp. 15, 17). The Mariana subspecies, which persists 
only on the island of Aguiguan (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana 
Islands (CNMI)), appears to prefer relatively large caves (Wiles et al. 
2009, p. 15 in O'Shea and Valdez 2009). The limestone cave ecosystem of 
the Mariana subspecies on Aguiguan is characterized by constant 
temperature, high relative humidity, and no major air movement (O'Shea 
and Valdez 2009, pp. 77-78). Such basic habitat data are lacking for 
the South Pacific subspecies of Pacific sheath-tailed bat, but may be 
important because the alteration of climate conditions has been 
implicated in the abandonment of roost caves by other bat species 
(Hutson et al. 2001, p. 101). All subspecies of the Pacific sheath-
tailed bat are nocturnal and typically emerge around dusk to forage on 
flying insects (Hutson et al. 2001, p. 138; Craig et al. 1993, p. 51). 
The Mariana Islands subspecies forages almost entirely in forests 
(native and nonnative) near their roosting caves (Esselstyn et al. 
2004, p. 307). Other subspecies in Micronesia have been observed 
foraging beneath the canopy of dense native forest (on Pohnpei) and 
over town streets (Palau and Chuuk) (Bruner and Pratt 1979, p. 3). Bats 
and swiftlets (Aerodramus spp.) are

[[Page 61572]]

commonly found sharing caves (Lemke 1986, p. 744; Hutson et al. 2001, 
p. 139; Tarburton 2002, p. 106; Wiles and Worthington 2002, p. 7, 
Palmeirim et al. 2005, p. 28).
    In American Samoa, Amerson et al. (1982, p. 74) estimated a total 
population of approximately 11,000 Pacific sheath-tailed bats in 1975 
and 1976. A precipitous decline of the bat on the island of Tutuila has 
been documented since 1990 (Grant et al. 1994, p. 134; Koopman and 
Steadman 1995, pp. 9-10; Helgen and Flannery 2002, pp. 4-5). Knowles 
(1988, p. 65) recorded about 200 in 1988, and in 1993, observers caught 
one bat and saw only three more (Grant et al. 1994, p. 134). A single 
bat was also observed on two occasions in a small cave north of Alao 
(Grant et al. 1994, pp. 134-135). Additional small caves and lava tubes 
have been checked for bats and swiftlets, however, Tutuila is entirely 
volcanic and does not have the extensive limestone cave systems that 
provide bat roosting habitat in the Mariana Islands and other Pacific 
island groups (Grant et al. 1994, p. 135). Two individuals were last 
observed in the cave at Anapeapea Cove on the north shore of Tutuila in 
1998 (Hutson et al. 2001, p. 138). Surveys conducted by the DMWR in 
2006 failed to detect the presence of this species (DMWR 2006, p. 53). 
In an attempt to ascertain whether the species is still extant, DMWR 
conducted surveys consisting of acoustic sweeps and cave checks on all 
main islands in 2008 and 2012, and no bats were detected (Fraser et al. 
2009, p. 9; U.R. Tulafono 2011, in litt.; DMWR 2013, in litt.). Based 
on its decline and the lack of detections since it was last seen in 
1998, this species is thought to be nearly extirpated (if not already 
extirpated) in American Samoa (DMWR 2006, p. 54; Uyehara and Wiles 
2009, p. 5). DMWR continues to conduct acoustic surveys in search of 
the Pacific sheath-tailed bat in American Samoa (Miles 2015a, in 
litt.).
    In Samoa, the Pacific sheath-tailed bat is known from the two main 
islands of Upolu and Savaii, but the species has experienced a severe 
decline over the last several decades, and has been observed only 
rarely since Cyclones Ofa (1990) and Val (1991) (Lovegrove et al. 1992, 
p. 30; Park et al. 1992, p. 47; Tarburton 2002, pp. 105-108). This 
species was previously abundant on Upolu with an individual cave 
estimated to support several thousand individuals (Ollier et al. 1979, 
pp. 22, 39). A survey of 41 lava tube caves and other locations on 
Upolu and Savaii conducted from 1994 to 1997 detected a total of 5 
individuals at two sites, which had declined to 2 individuals total by 
the end of the survey (Hutson 2001, p. 139; Tarburton 2002, pp. 105-
108, Tarburton 2011, p. 38). In Samoa, the Pacific sheath-tailed bat 
occupies sea caves and lava tubes located from the coast up to 
elevations of 2,500 ft (762 m) that range from 49 ft (15 m) to over 
2,130 ft (650 m) in length; vary in height and width, number of 
openings, and degree of branching; and may be subject to rockfalls and 
flooding during high rain events (Tarburton 2011, pp. 40-49).
    In Tonga, the distribution of the Pacific sheath-tailed bat is not 
well known. It has been recorded on the island of Eua and Niaufoou 
(Rinke 1991, p. 134; Koopman and Steadman 1995, p. 7), and is probably 
absent from Ata and Late (Rinke 1991, pp. 132-133). In 2007, ten nights 
of acoustic surveys on Tongatapu and Eua failed to record any 
detections of this species (M. Pennay pers. comm. in Scanlon et al. 
2013, p. 456). Pennay describes Eua as the place most likely to support 
the Pacific sheath-tailed bat because of the island's large tracts of 
primary forest and many rocky outcrops and caves, but he considers the 
bat to be extremely rare or extirpated from both islands (M. Pennay 
pers. comm. in Scanlon et al. 2013, p. 456).
    In Fiji, the Pacific sheath-tailed bat is distributed throughout 
the archipelago, on large islands such as Vanua Levu and Taveuni, 
medium-sized islands in the Lau group (Lakeba, Nayau, Cicia, Vanua 
Balavu), and small islets such as Yaqeta in the Yasawa group and Vatu 
Vara and Aiwa in the Lau group (Palmeirim et al. 2005, pp. 31-32). 
Pacific sheath-tailed bats in Fiji roost in lava tubes and limestone 
caves of varying length and width, beneath rock outcrops, and in cave-
like areas formed by irregularly-shaped boulders located in areas along 
the coast and up to 6.2 mi (10 km) inland (Palmierim et al. 2007, pp. 
1-13). Running water or pools of water are a common occurrence in 
inland caves with streams running through or coastal caves that are 
tidally influenced (Palmierim et al. 2007, pp. 1-13). Habitat 
surrounding roost sites includes undisturbed forest, secondary forest, 
cultivated areas, and forested cliffs (Palmierim et al. 2007, pp. 1-
13). The species was reported as common some decades ago on the small, 
volcanic island of Rotuma, a Fijian dependency, approximately 372 mi 
(600 km) from the Fiji archipelago (Clunie 1985, pp. 154-155). Although 
widely distributed, the species clearly has suffered a serious decline 
since the 1950s as evidenced by a contraction of its range and a 
decline in density and abundance on the islands where it still occurs 
(Flannery 1995, p. 327; Palmeirim et al. 2005, p. 31). In 2000 to 2001 
bats were absent or present in diminished numbers in many of the caves 
known previously to be occupied on 30 Fijian islands, and villagers 
reported that small bats, presumably Pacific sheath-tailed bats, were 
no longer commonly seen (Palmeirim et al. 2005, p. 31).
    The species is predicted to be extirpated or nearly so on Kadavu, 
Vanua Levu, and Fiji's largest island, Viti Levu, where it was known to 
be widespread until the 1970s (Palmeirim et al. 2005, p. 31; Scanlon et 
al. 2013, p. 453). Field observations during the 2000 to 2001 surveys 
documented a single large colony of several hundred individuals on 
Yaqeta Island in the Yasawa group and a large colony on Vatu Vara 
Island in the Lau group, but otherwise only a few to dozens of 
individuals scattered among caves on small and remote islands in the 
Lau group (Palmeirim et al. 2005, pp. 55-62). Scanlon et al. 2013 (p. 
453) revisited the large cave colony on Yaqeta between 2007 and 2011 
and described it as without any evidence of any recent use by bats 
(e.g., odor, fresh guano) and probably abandoned. The loss of the 
Yaqeta colony and the species' overall declining trend across the 
archipelago led Scanlon et al. 2013 (p. 456) to infer a reduction in 
population size of greater than 80 percent over the last 10 years. The 
most important remaining sites for the protection of this species are 
likely those on small and mid-sized islands in Lau where bats still 
occur (Palmeirim et al. 2007, p. 512).
    In Vanuatu, the Pacific sheath-tailed bat is known from two museum 
specimens, one collected in 1929 and one collected before 1878, both on 
the main island of Espiritu Santo (Helgen and Flannery 2002, pp. 210-
211). No subsequent expeditions have recorded sheath-tailed bats, 
suggesting that this species was either extirpated or perhaps never 
actually occurred in Vanuatu (Medway and Marshall 1975, pp. 32-33; Hill 
1983, pp. 140-142; Flannery 1995, p. 326; Helgen and Flannery 2002, pp. 
210-211; Palmeirim et al. 2007, p. 517). For example, Medway and 
Marshall (1975, p. 453) detected seven other small, insectivorous bats 
(family Microchiroptera) in Vanuatu, but failed to observe the Pacific 
sheath-tailed bat, possibly as a result of survey sites and methods. 
However, the Vanuatu provenance of the two specimens is not in question 
(Helgen and Flannery 2002, p. 211). The current disjunct distribution 
of the Pacific sheath-tailed bat (all subspecies) is suggestive of

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extinctions (Flannery 1995, p. 45), and the possible extirpation of the 
South Pacific subspecies from Vanuatu could be an example of this 
(Helgen and Flannery 2002, p. 211). The bat's status in Vanuatu is 
unknown, and a basic inventory of Vanuatu's bat fauna is lacking 
(Helgen and Flannery 2002, p. 211).
    In summary, the Pacific sheath-tailed bat, once widely distributed 
across the southwest Pacific islands of American Samoa, Samoa, Tonga, 
and Fiji, has undergone a significant decline in numbers and 
contraction of its range. Reports of possible extirpation or extremely 
low numbers in American Samoa and Samoa, steep population declines in 
Fiji, and the lack of detections in Tonga and Vanuatu, suggest that the 
Pacific sheath-tailed bat is vulnerable to extinction throughout its 
range. The remaining populations of the Pacific sheath-tailed bat 
continue to experience habitat loss from deforestation and development, 
predation by introduced mammals, and human disturbance of roosting 
caves, all of which are likely to be exacerbated in the future by the 
effects of climate change (see Summary of Factors Affecting the Species 
discussion below). In addition, low population numbers and the 
breakdown of the metapopulation equilibrium across its range render the 
remaining populations of Pacific sheath-tailed bat more vulnerable to 
chance occurrences such as hurricanes.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Pacific Sheath-Tailed Bat

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

Habitat Destruction and Modification by Deforestation
    Deforestation can cause the destruction and modification of 
foraging habitat of the Pacific sheath-tailed bat as a result of the 
loss of cover and reduction of available insect prey. The loss of 
native plant diversity associated with the conversion of native forests 
to agriculture and other uses can result in a corresponding reduction 
in the diversity and number of flying insects (Hespenheide 1975, pp. 
84, 96; Waugh and Hails 1983, p. 212; Tarburton 2002, p. 107). 
Deforestation results from logging, agriculture, and development 
(Government of Samoa 2001, p. 59; Wiles and Worthington 2002, p. 18) 
and from hurricanes. Based on the preference of the Mariana subspecies 
for foraging in forested habitats near their roost caves, Wiles et al. 
(2011, p. 307) predict that past deforestation in the Mariana 
archipelago may be a principal factor in limiting their current 
population to the island of Aguiguan, which has healthy native forest. 
Similarly, in Fiji, most sheath-tailed bat colonies are found roosting 
in caves in or near good forest (e.g., closed canopy, native forest) 
(Palmeirim et al. 2005, pp. 36, 44); however, much of it has been lost 
on the large Fijian islands (Palmeirim et al. 2007, p. 515).
    Deforestation has been extensive and is ongoing across the range of 
the Pacific sheath-tailed bat. On the island of Tutuila, American 
Samoa, agriculture and development cover approximately 24 percent of 
the island and are concentrated in the coastal plain and low-elevation 
areas where loss of forest is likely to have modified foraging habitat 
for sheath-tailed bats (American Samoa Community College (ASCC) 2010, 
p. 13). In Samoa, the amount of forested area declined from 74 to 46 
percent of total land area between 1954 and 1990 (Food and Agricultural 
Organization (FAO) 2005 in litt.). Between 1978 and 1990, 20 percent of 
all forest losses in Samoa were attributable to logging, with 97 
percent of the logging having occurred on Savaii (Government of Samoa 
1998 in Whistler 2002, p. 132). Forested land area in Samoa continued 
to decline at a rate of roughly 2.1 percent or 7,400 ac (3,000 ha) 
annually from 1990 to 2000 (FAO 2005 in litt.). As a result, there is 
very little undisturbed, mature forest left in Samoa (Watling 2001, p. 
175; FAO 2005 in litt.). Today, only 360 ac (146 ha) of native lowland 
rainforests (below 2,000 ft or 600 m) remain on Savaii and Upolu as a 
result of logging, agricultural clearing, residential clearing 
(including relocation due to tsunami), and natural causes such as 
rising sea level and hurricanes (Ministry of Natural Resources and 
Environment (MNRE) 2013, p. 47). On Upolu, direct or indirect human 
influence has caused extensive damage to native forest habitat (above 
2,000 ft or 600 m) (MNRE 2013, p. 13). Although forested, almost all 
upland forests on Upolu are largely dominated by introduced species 
today. Savaii still has extensive upland forests, which are for the 
most part undisturbed and composed of native species (MNRE 2013, p. 
40). Although the large Fijian islands still have some areas of native 
forest, much of it has been lost (e.g., 17 percent between 1990 and 
2000; FAO 2005 in litt.), and commercial logging continues (Palmeirim 
et al. 2007, p. 515). The best available information does not provide 
the current status of native forests and rates of forest loss in Tonga 
or Vanuatu. Native forests are preferred foraging habitat of the 
Pacific sheath-tailed bat, and deforestation is occurring in Fiji 
(where the last relatively large population occurs), and in Samoa, and 
has occurred in American Samoa. Therefore we conclude that habitat 
destruction and modification by deforestation is a current threat to 
the species in at least Fiji and Samoa, which comprise roughly 62 
percent of the land area, and occupy the center, of the bat's range.
Habitat Destruction and Modification by the Effects of Climate Change
    Climate change may have impacts to the habitat of the Pacific 
sheath-tailed bat. Discussion of these impacts is included in our 
complete discussion of climate change in the section ``E. Other Natural 
or Manmade Factors Affecting Their Continued Existence,'' below.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Habitat Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Range
American Samoa
    The National Park of American Samoa (NPSA) was established to 
preserve and protect the tropical forest and archaeological and 
cultural resources, to maintain the habitat of flying foxes, to 
preserve the ecological balance of the Samoan tropical forest, and, 
consistent with the preservation of these resources, to provide for the 
enjoyment of the unique resources of the Samoan tropical forest by 
visitors from around the world (Pub. L. 100-571, Pub. L. 100-336). 
Under a 50-year lease agreement between local villages, the American 
Samoa Government, and the Federal Government, approximately 8,000 ac 
(3,240 ha) of forested habitat on the islands of Tutuila, Tau, and Ofu 
are protected and managed, including suitable foraging habitat for the 
Pacific sheath-tailed bat (NPSA Lease Agreement 1993).
Samoa
    As of 2014, a total of approximately 58,176 ac (23,543 ha), roughly 
8 percent of the total land area of Samoa (285,000 ha) was enlisted in 
terrestrial protected areas, with the majority located in five national 
parks covering a total of 50,629 ac (20,489 ha), overlapping several 
sites known to be previously occupied by the bat (Tarburton 2002, pp. 
105-107; Tarburton 2011, pp. 43-46).
Fiji
    Fiji currently has 23 terrestrial protected areas covering 188 sq 
mi (488 sq km) or 2.7 percent of the nation's land area (Fiji 
Department of Environment 2014, pp. 20-21). Most notably, on Taveuni 
Island, the Bouma

[[Page 61574]]

National Heritage Park (3,500 ac (1,417 ha)), Taveuni Forest Reserve 
(27,577 ac (11,160 ha)), and Ravilevu Reserve (9.934 ac (4,020 ha)) may 
contain caves and could provide important foraging habitat for the 
Pacific sheath-tailed bat (Fiji Department of Environment 2011; 
Naikatini 2015, in litt.; Scanlon 2015a, in litt.). Additional areas of 
remnant forest and important bat habitat are also managed informally 
under traditional custodial management systems (Scanlon 2015a, in 
litt.).
Summary of Factor A
    Based on our review of the best available scientific and commercial 
information, habitat destruction and degradation by deforestation, as a 
result of logging and land-clearing for agriculture and other land-
uses, is occurring throughout the range of the Pacific sheath-tailed 
bat. Habitat destruction and modification and range curtailment are 
current threats to the Pacific sheath-tailed bat that are likely to 
persist in the future.

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    The best available information does not indicate that the Pacific 
sheath-tailed bat is used for any commercial, recreational, scientific, 
or educational purpose. As a result, we do not find overutilization for 
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes to be a 
threat to the Pacific sheath-tailed bat.

C. Disease or Predation

Predation by Nonnative Mammals
    Predation by nonnative mammals (mammals that occur as a result of 
introduction by humans) is a factor in the decline of the Pacific 
sheath-tailed bat throughout its range. Terrestrial predators may be 
able to take the bat directly from its roosts, which are often in 
exposed sites such as shallow caves, rock overhangs or cave entrances. 
Domestic and feral cats (Felis catus) can capture low-flying bats; cats 
have been documented to wait for bats as they emerge from caves and 
capture them in flight (Tuttle 1977 in Palmeirim et al. 2005, p. 33; 
Ransome 1990 in Palmeirim et al. 2005, p. 33; Woods et al. 2003, pp. 
178, 188). Consequently, even a few cats can have a major impact on a 
population of cave-dwelling bats (Palmeirim et al. 2005, p. 34).
    Of the predators introduced to Fiji, cats are the most likely to 
prey on bats (Palmeirim et al. 2005, pp. 33-34). On Cicia Island in the 
Lau group in Fiji, Palmeirim et al. (2005, p. 34) observed a cat next 
to the entrance of a cave where Pacific sheath-tailed bats roosted, far 
from any human settlement. On Lakeba (Lau), a cave that once harbored a 
large colony of Pacific sheath-tailed bats is now empty and called Qara 
ni Pusi (cave of the cat; (Palmeirim et al. 2005, p. 34)). Feral cats 
are also present on Tutuila and on the Manua Islands in American Samoa, 
(Freifeld 2007, pers. comm.; Arcilla 2015, in litt.). Feral cats have 
also been documented in Samoa, Tonga, and are likely present in Vanuatu 
(Atkinson and Atkinson 2000, p. 32; Freifeld 2007, pers. comm.; Arcilla 
2015, in litt.).
    Rats may also prey on the Pacific sheath-tailed bat. Rats are 
omnivores and opportunistic feeders and have a widely varied diet 
consisting of nuts, seeds, grains, vegetables, fruits, insects, worms, 
snails, eggs, frogs, fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals (Fellers 2000, 
p. 525; Global Invasive Species Database (GISD) 2011). Rats are known 
to prey on non-volant (young that have not developed the ability to 
fly) bats at roosting sites and can be a major threat to bat colonies 
(Wiles et al. 2011, p. 306). Of several nonnative rats (Rattus spp.) 
found on islands in the Pacific, black rats (R. rattus) likely pose the 
greatest threat to Pacific sheath-tailed bats because of their 
excellent climbing abilities (Palmeirim 2015, in litt.). Although we 
lack direct evidence of black rats preying on Pacific sheath-tailed 
bats, this rat species has had documented, adverse impacts to other 
colonial species of small bats, such as Townsend's big-eared bat 
(Corynorhinus townsendii) in California (Fellers 2000, pp. 524-525), 
and several species (Mystacina spp.) in New Zealand (Daniel and 
Williams 1984, p. 20). Based on observations of swiftlets, cave-nesting 
birds that often share bats' roosting caves, smooth rock overhangs in 
tall caverns can provide nesting surfaces safe from rats, cats, and 
other predators (Tarburton 2011, p. 38). However, bats roosting in 
caves with low ledges or those that are filled with debris as a result 
of rockfalls or severe weather events are likely to either abandon such 
caves or become more accessible to predators such as rats. Rats have 
been postulated as a problem for the Mariana subspecies of the Pacific 
sheath-tailed bat (Wiles et al. 2011, p. 306); their remaining roost 
sites on Aguiguan appear to be those that are inaccessible to rodents 
(Wiles and Worthington 2002, p. 18; Berger et al. 2005, p. 144). 
Nonnative rats are present throughout the range of Pacific sheath-
tailed bats (Atkinson and Atkinson 2000, p. 32), and although we lack 
information about the impact of rats on this species, based on 
information from other bat species, we consider rats to be predators of 
this species.
    In summary, nonnative mammalian predators such as rats and feral 
cats are present throughout the range of the Pacific sheath-tailed bat. 
Predation of related subspecies and other cave-roosting bats by rats 
and feral cats strongly suggests a high probability of predation of the 
Pacific sheath-tailed bat. Based on the above information, we conclude 
that predation by rats and feral cats is a current and future threat to 
the Pacific sheath-tailed bat throughout its range.
Disease
    Disease may contribute to the decline of the Pacific sheath-tailed 
bat, especially because of the bat's communal roosting habit (Wiles and 
Worthington 2002, p. 13). Microchiropterans have been severely affected 
by certain diseases, such as white nose syndrome in North America; 
therefore, the possibility exists that an undetected disease has led or 
contributed to the extirpation of this species on several islands 
(Malotaux 2012a in litt.). However, disease has not been observed 
either in the Mariana or South Pacific subspecies of Pacific sheath-
tailed bat (Palmeirim et al. 2007, p. 517; Wiles et al. 2011, p. 306). 
The best available information does not indicate that disease is a 
threat to this species; therefore, we conclude that disease is not a 
current threat the Pacific sheath-tailed bat or likely to become a 
threat in the future.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Disease or Predation
    We are unaware of any conservation actions planned or implemented 
at this time to abate the threats of predation by feral cats or rats to 
the Pacific sheath-tailed bat.
Summary of Factor C
    In summary, based on the best available scientific and commercial 
information, we consider predation by nonnative mammals to be an 
ongoing threat to the Pacific sheath-tailed bat that will continue into 
the future. We do not find that disease is a threat to the Pacific 
sheath-tailed bat, or that it is likely to become one in the future.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The Act requires that the Secretary assess available regulatory 
mechanisms in order to determine whether existing regulatory mechanisms 
may be inadequate as designed to address

[[Page 61575]]

threats to the species being evaluated (Factor D). Under this factor, 
we examine whether existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to 
address the potential threats to the Pacific sheath-tailed bat 
discussed under other factors. In determining whether the inadequacy of 
regulatory mechanisms constitutes a threat to the Pacific sheath-tailed 
bat, we analyzed the existing Federal, Territorial, and international 
laws and regulations that may address the threats to this species or 
contain relevant protective measures. Regulatory mechanisms, if they 
exist, may preclude the need for listing if we determine that such 
mechanisms adequately address the threats to the species such that 
listing is not warranted.
American Samoa
    In American Samoa no existing Federal laws, treaties, or 
regulations specify protection of the Pacific sheath-tailed bat's 
foraging habitat from the threats of agriculture and development, 
protect its known roosting caves from disturbance, or address the 
threat of predation by nonnative mammals such as rats and feral cats. 
However, some existing Territorial laws and regulations have the 
potential to afford the species some protection but their 
implementation does not achieve that result. The DMWR is given 
statutory authority to ``manage, protect, preserve, and perpetuate 
marine and wildlife resources'' and to promulgate rules and regulations 
to this end (American Samoa Code Annotated (ASCA), title 24, chapter 
3). This agency conducts monitoring surveys, conservation activities, 
and community outreach and education about conservation concerns. 
However, to our knowledge, DMWR has not used this authority to 
undertake conservation efforts for the Pacific sheath-tailed bat such 
as habitat protection and control of nonnative predators (DMWR 2006, 
pp. 79-80).
    The Territorial Endangered Species Act provides for appointment of 
a Commission with the authority to nominate species as either 
endangered or threatened (ASCA, title 24, chapter 7). Regulations 
adopted under the Coastal Management Act (ASCA Sec.  24.0501 et seq.) 
also prohibit the taking of threatened or endangered species listed as 
threatened or endangered by the American Samoa Government (ASG) 
(American Samoa Administrative Code (ASAC) Sec.  26.0220.I.c). However, 
the ASG has not listed the bat as threatened or endangered so these 
regulatory mechanisms do not provide protection for this species.
    Commercial hunting and exportation of the Pacific sheath-tailed bat 
is prohibited under ASCA, title 24, chapter 23, ``Conservation of 
Flying Foxes),'' which also authorizes and directs the ASG DMWR to 
monitor flying fox populations, protect roosting areas from 
disturbance, and conduct other activities to manage and protect the 
species. This law identifies the Pacific sheath-tailed bat as a 
``flying fox species'' (ASCA Sec.  24.2302), but it has not led to 
measures implemented to protect the Pacific sheath-tailed bat or its 
habitat from known threats. The sale and purchase of all native bats is 
prohibited, and the take, attempt to take, and hunting of all native 
bats are prohibited unless explicitly allowed during an officially 
proclaimed hunting season (ASAC Sec.  24.1106); take is defined as 
harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or 
collect or to attempt to engage in such conduct (ASAC Sec.  24.1101 
(f)). However, we do not consider hunting or other forms of utilization 
to be a threat to the Pacific sheath-tailed bat.
    Under a 50-year lease agreement between local villages, the 
American Samoa Government, and the Federal Government, approximately 
8,000 ac (3,240 ha) of forested habitat on the islands of Tutuila, Tau, 
and Ofu are protected and managed in the National Park of American 
Samoa (NPSA Lease Agreement 1993). There is the potential for 
development surrounding park in-holdings, but such forest clearing 
would be isolated and small in scale compared to the large tracts of 
forested areas protected.
    Under ASCA, title 24, chapter 08 (Noxious Weeds), the Territorial 
DOA has the authority to ban, confiscate, and destroy species of plants 
harmful to the agricultural economy. This authority was expanded by 
executive regulation so that the governor can ban the use or 
importation of any plant (ASCA Sec.  24.0801). A permit from the 
director of the DOA is likewise required before plants may be imported 
to American Samoa (ASAC Sec.  24.0328). These regulations are 
promulgated without consultation with the DMWR (DMWR 2006, p. 80). 
Although these regulations provide some protection against the 
introduction of nonnative plant species, some imports permitted by the 
DOA, or that escape detection, could prove harmful to native species 
and their habitats in American Samoa. These regulations do not require 
any measures to control invasive nonnative plants that already are 
established and proving harmful to native species and their habitats.
    Similarly, under ASCA, title 24, chapter 06 (Quarantine), the 
director of DOA has the authority to promulgate agriculture quarantine 
restrictions concerning animals. Using this authority, the DOA has 
restricted the importation of insects, farm animals, and ``domestic 
pets,'' including exotic animals, to entry by permit only (See ASAC 
Sec.  24.0305 et. seq.). Yet these restrictions do not expressly extend 
to all non-domesticated animals, nor does the DMWR have any 
consultative role in restricting entry of animals (or plants) harmful 
to wildlife or native flora. Accordingly, existing statutes and 
regulations leave a great deal of discretion to the DOA, which may not 
block the entry of animals harmful to native species or their habitats 
(DMWR 2006, p. 80). These regulations do not require any measures to 
control nonnative animals, such as mammalian predators, that already 
are established and proving harmful to native species and their 
habitats.
    The Territorial Coastal Management Act establishes a land use 
permit (LUP) system for development projects and a Project Notification 
Review System (PNRS) for multi-agency review and approval of LUP 
applications (ASAC Sec.  26.0206). The standards and criteria for 
review of LUP applications includes requirements to protect Special 
Management Areas (SMA), Unique Areas, and ``critical habitats'' where 
``sustaining the natural characteristics is important or essential to 
the productivity of plant and animal species, especially those that are 
threatened or endangered'' on all lands and in coastal waters in the 
territory not under federal management authority (ASCA Sec.  24.0501 
et. seq.). To date, three SMAs have been designated (Pago Pago Harbor, 
Leone Pala, and Nuuuli Pala; ASAC Sec.  26.0221), and all are in 
coastal and mangrove habitats on the south shore of Tutuila that likely 
provide little foraging habitat and no roosting habitat for the Pacific 
sheath-tailed bat. The only Unique Area designated to date is the 
Ottoville Rainforest (American Samoa Coastal Management Program 2011, 
p. 52), also on Tutuila's south shore, which hypothetically may provide 
some foraging habitat for Pacific sheath-tailed bats, but it is a 
relatively small island of native forest in the middle of the heavily 
developed Tafuna Plain (Trail 1993, p. 4), far from the last known 
roost sites of this species. To the best of our knowledge, no critical 
habitats, as defined in the ASCA, have been designated. Nonetheless, 
these laws and regulations are designed to ensure that ``environmental 
concerns

[[Page 61576]]

are given appropriate consideration,'' and include provisions and 
requirements that could address to some degree threats to native 
forests and other habitats important to the Pacific sheath-tailed bat, 
even though individual species are not named (ASAC Sec.  26.0202 et 
seq.). Because the implementation of these regulations has been 
minimal, and because review of permits is not rigorous and does not 
reliably include the members of the PNRS Board responsible for 
management of wildlife and natural resources (ASCA Sec.  26.026.C), 
issuance of permits may not provide the habitat protection necessary 
for the conservation of the species and instead may result in loss of 
native habitat important to the Pacific sheath-tailed bat and other 
species as a result of land clearing for agriculture and development 
(DMWR 2006, p. 71). We conclude that the implementation of the Coastal 
Management Act and its PNRS is inadequate to address the threat of 
habitat destruction and degradation to the Pacific sheath-tailed bat.
    In summary, some existing Territorial laws and regulatory 
mechanisms have the potential to offer some level of protection for the 
Pacific sheath-tailed bat and its habitat but are not currently 
implemented in a manner that would do so. The DMWR has not has not 
exercised its statutory authority to address threats to the bat such 
has nonnative species. The bat is not listed pursuant to the 
Territorial Endangered Species Act. The Coastal Management Act and its 
implementing regulations have the potential to address this threat more 
substantively, but are inadequately implemented. Therefore, we conclude 
that regulatory mechanisms in American Samoa do not address threats to 
the Pacific sheath-tailed bat.
Samoa
    In Samoa, the Animals Ordinance 1960 and the Protection of Wildlife 
Regulations 2004 regulate the protection, conservation, and utilization 
of terrestrial or land-dwelling species (MNRE and the Secretariat of 
the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) 2012, p. 5). These 
laws and regulations prohibit, and establish penalties for committing, 
the following activities: (1) The take, keep, or kill of protected and 
partially protected animal species; (2) harm of flying species endemic 
to Samoa; and (3) the export of any bird from Samoa (MNRE and SPREP 
2012, pp. 5-6). As described above, the Pacific sheath-tailed bat is 
neither endemic to the Samoan archipelago, nor is it listed as a 
``flying species endemic to Samoa'' under the Protection of Wildlife 
Regulations 2004. Therefore, it is not protected by the current 
regulations.
    The Planning and Urban Management Act 2004 (PUMA) and PUMA 
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulation (2007) were enacted to 
ensure all development initiatives are properly evaluated for adverse 
environmental impacts (MNRE 2013, p. 93). The information required 
under PUMA for Sustainable Management Plans (Para. 18, Consultation) 
and Environmental Impact Assessments (Para. 46, Matters the Agency 
shall consider) does not include specific consideration for species or 
their habitat (PUMA 2004, as amended). Other similar approval 
frameworks mandated under other legislation address specific stressors 
and activities. These include the permit system under the Lands Surveys 
and Environment Act 1989 for sand mining and coastal reclamation, and 
ground water exploration and abstraction permits under the Water 
Resources Act 2008 (MNRE 2013, p. 93). The PUMA process has been 
gaining in acceptance and use; however, information is lacking on its 
effectiveness in preventing adverse impacts to species or their 
habitats (MNRE 2013, p. 93).
    The Forestry Management Act 2011 aims to provide for the effective 
and sustainable management and utilization of forest resources. This 
law creates the requirement for a permit or license for commercial 
logging or harvesting of native, agro-forestry, or plantation forest 
resources (MNRE and SPREP 2012, p. 18). Permitted and licensed 
activities must follow approved Codes of Practice, forestry harvesting 
plans, and other requirements set by the Ministry of Natural Resources 
and Environment. Certain restrictions apply to actions on protected 
lands such as national parks and reserves. Permits or licenses may 
designate certain areas for the protection of the biodiversity, 
endangered species, implementation of international conventions, water 
resources, or area determined to be of significance on which no 
forestry activities may be undertaken (Forestry Management Act 2011, 
Para. 57). Although this law includes these general considerations for 
managing forest resources, it does not specifically provide protection 
to habitat for the Pacific sheath-tailed bat.
Fiji
    In Fiji, the Endangered and Protected Species Act (2002) regulates 
the international trade, domestic trade, possession, and transportation 
of species protected under CITES and other species identified as 
threatened or endangered under this act. Under the law, the Pacific 
sheath-tailed bat is recognized as an ``indigenous species not listed 
under CITES.'' Its recognition under the law can garner public 
recognition of the importance of conserving the bat and its habitat 
(Tuiwawa 2015, in litt.); however, because the focus of the legislation 
is the regulation of foreign and domestic trade, and the bat is not a 
species in trade, this law is not intended to provide protection for 
the bat or its habitat within Fiji. The best available information does 
not identify any laws or regulations protecting the habitat of the 
Pacific sheath-tailed bat in Fiji.
Tonga
    In Tonga, the Birds and Fish Preservation (Amendment) Act 1989, is 
a law to ``make provision for the preservation of wild birds and 
fish.'' The law protects birds and fish, and provides for the 
establishment of protected areas, but it does not specifically protect 
the Pacific sheath-tailed bat or its habitat (Kingdom of Tonga 1988, 
1989).
Vanuatu
    In Vanuatu, the Environment Management and Conservation Act (2002) 
provides for conservation, sustainable development, and management of 
the environment of Vanuatu. Areas of the law that may apply to species 
protection are the Environmental Impact Assessment process, which 
includes an assessment of protected, rare, threatened, or endangered 
species or their habitats in project areas, laws on bioprospecting, and 
the creation of Community Conservation Areas for the management of 
unique genetic, cultural, geological, or biological resources 
(Environmental Management and Conservation Act, Part 3, Environmental 
Impact Assessment). The Wild Bird Protection law (Republic of Vanuatu 
2006) is limited to birds and does not offer protection to the Pacific 
sheath-tailed bat or its habitat.
Summary of Factor D
    Based on the best available information, some existing regulatory 
mechanisms have the potential to offer protection, but their 
implementation does not reduce or remove threats to the Pacific sheath-
tailed bat. In American Samoa the DMWR has not exercised its statutory 
authority to address threats to the bat such as predation by nonnative 
species, the bat is not listed pursuant to the Territorial Endangered 
Species Act, and the Coastal Management Act's land use permitting 
process is implemented inadequately to reduce or remove the threat of 
habitat destruction or

[[Page 61577]]

modification to the Pacific sheath-tailed bat. Therefore, we conclude 
that existing regulatory mechanisms do not address the threats to the 
Pacific sheath-tailed bat.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

Roost Disturbance
    Disturbance of roosting caves has contributed to the decline of the 
Pacific sheath-tailed bat throughout its range. Disturbance of roost 
caves by humans is likely to have occurred as a result of recreation, 
harvesting of co-occurring bat species, and, more commonly, guano 
mining (Grant et al. 1994, p. 135; Tarburton 2002, p. 106; Wiles and 
Worthington 2002, p. 17; Palmeirim et al. 2005, pp. 63, 66; Malotaux 
2012a in litt.; Malotaux 2012b in litt.). Roost disturbance is a well-
known problem for many cave-dwelling species (Palmeirim et al. 2005, p. 
3). Roosts are important sites for bats for mating, rearing young, and 
hibernating (in mid- and high-latitude species). Roosts often 
facilitate complex social interactions, offer protection from inclement 
weather, help bats conserve energy, and minimize some predation risk 
(Kunz and Lumsden 2003, p. 3); therefore, disturbance at caves and 
being repeatedly flushed from their roosts may cause bats to incur 
elevated energetic costs and other physiological stress and potentially 
increased risk of predation while in flight. Roost disturbance thus 
would negatively affect the survival and reproduction of the Pacific 
sheath-tailed bat.
    In American Samoa, human disturbance at the two caves known to be 
historical roost sites for the bat is likely to be minimal. Guano 
mining occurred in the Anapeapea caves in the 1960s (Amerson et al. 
1982, p. 74), but ceased due to the high salt content as a result of 
flooding with seawater during cyclones (Grant et al. 1994, p. 135). On 
Taveuni, Fiji, a cave known to be used as a roosting cave for the 
Pacific sheath-tailed bat is under more immediate threat by humans, as 
the cave is situated close to farmland, and is often used by locals 
(Malotaux 2012a, p. 3). On Upolu, Samoa, caves previously known to 
support bats are well-known and often visited by tourists; one within O 
le Pupu Pue National Park and others on village land (Tarburton 2011, 
pp. 40, 44). Swiftlets (Aerodramus spp.) are still observed in 
significant numbers in these caves (Tarburton 2011, p. 40), but these 
birds may be more tolerant than bats of human disturbance. We do not 
have information on human disturbance of roosts in Tonga or Vanuatu.
    Goats are certain to enter caves for shelter from the sun and 
consequently can disturb roosting bats, although the extent of this 
disturbance is unknown (Scanlon 2015b, in litt.). Feral goats have been 
observed entering caves on Aguiguan Island for shelter, which disrupts 
colonies of the endangered swiftlet and is believed to disturb the 
Mariana subspecies of the Pacific sheath-tailed bat (Wiles and 
Worthington 2002, p. 17; Cruz et al. 2008, p. 243; Scanlon 2015b, in 
litt.). Researchers found that if caves that were otherwise suitable 
for bats were occupied by goats, there were no bats present in the 
caves (Guam Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources 1995, p. 95). On 
Yaqeta Island, Fiji, a cave once known to support several hundred 
Pacific sheath-tailed bats but now abandoned, is located within a small 
forest fragment frequented by goats (Scanlon et al. 2013, p. 453).
    Populations of the Pacific sheath-tailed bat are concentrated in 
the caves where they roost, and chronic disturbance of these sites can 
result in the loss of populations, as described above. Because so few 
populations of this bat remain, loss of additional populations to roost 
disturbance further erodes its diminished abundance and distribution. 
Based on the above information, roost disturbance at caves accessible 
to humans and animals such as feral goats is a current threat and will 
likely continue to be a threat into the future.
Pesticides
    The use of pesticides may negatively affect the Pacific sheath-
tailed bat as a result of direct toxicity and a reduction in the 
availability of insect prey. Pesticides are known to adversely affect 
bat populations, either by secondary poisoning when bats consume 
contaminated insects or by reducing the availability of insect prey 
(Hutson et al., 2001, p. 138; Mickleburgh et al. 2002, p. 19). 
Pesticides may have contributed to declines and loss of the Mariana 
subspecies of Pacific sheath-tailed bat on islands where pesticides 
were once applied in great quantities (Guam, Saipan, and Tinian) (Wiles 
and Worthington 2002, p. 17).
    In American Samoa and Samoa, current levels of pesticide use are 
likely lower than several decades ago when their use, particularly 
during the years in which taro was grown on large scales for export 
(1975-1985), coincided with the decline of bats in both places and has 
been implicated as the cause (Tarburton 2002, p. 107). However, Grant 
et al. (1994, pp. 135-136) dismissed the role of insecticides in the 
decline of the bat in American Samoa based on the absence of a similar 
population crash in the insectivorous white-rumped swiftlet (Aerodramus 
spodiopygius) and the limited use of agricultural and mosquito-control 
pesticides. On the island of Taveuni in Fiji, where bat populations 
have persisted at low levels over the last 10 years (Palmeirim et al. 
2005, p. 62, Malotaux 2012, in litt.), several locals reported that 
pesticide use was quite widespread, and their use may be similar on 
other Fijian islands (Malotaux 2012, in litt.). We do not have 
information about pesticide use in Tonga or Vanuatu. The best available 
information does not lead us to conclude that the use of pesticides is 
a current threat to the Pacific sheath-tailed bat or that it is likely 
to become one in the future.
Hurricanes
    Although severe storms are a natural disturbance with which the 
Pacific sheath-tailed bat has coexisted for millennia, such storms 
exacerbate other threats to the species by adversely affecting habitat 
and food resources and pose a particular threat to its small and 
isolated remaining populations. American Samoa, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, and 
Vanuatu are irregularly affected by hurricanes (Australian BOM and 
CSIRO 2011 Vol. 1, p. 41). Located in the Southern Hemisphere, these 
countries experience most hurricanes during the November to April wet 
season, with the maximum occurrence between January and March 
(Australian BOM and CSIRO 2011 Vol. 1, p. 47). In the 41-year period 
ending in 2010, more than 280 hurricanes passed within 250 mi (400 km) 
of Samoa (52 storms), Tonga (71), Fiji (70), and Vanuatu (94) 
(Australian BOM and CSIRO 2011, pp. 76, 186, 216, 244). In recent 
decades, several major (named) storms have hit American Samoa and Samoa 
(Tusi in 1987, Ofa in 1990, Val in 1991, Heta in 2004, and Olaf in 2005 
(MNRE 2013, pp. 31-32; Federal Emergency Management Agency 2015, in 
litt.)); Tonga (Waka in 2001 and Ian in 2014 (Tonga Meteorological 
Service 2006, in litt.; World Bank 2014, in litt.)); Fiji (Tomas in 
2010 (Digital Journal 2010, in litt.)); and, most recently, Vanuatu 
(Pam in 2015 (BBC 2015, in litt.)).
    The high winds, waves, strong storm surges, high rainfall, and 
flooding associated with hurricanes, particularly severe hurricanes 
(with sustained winds of at least 150 mi per hour or 65 m per second) 
cause direct mortality of the Pacific sheath-tailed bat. Cyclones Ofa 
(1990) and Val (1991) removed the dense vegetation that had obscured 
the

[[Page 61578]]

entrance to the larger cave at Anapeapea Cove, inundated the cave with 
water, filled it with coral and fallen trees, and washed the cave walls 
clean (Craig et al. 1993, p. 52; Grant et al. 1994, p. 135). The 
majority of sheath-tailed bats in the cave likely were killed when the 
hurricane hit (Grant et al. 1994, p. 135).
    Hurricanes also cause direct mortality of the Pacific sheath-tailed 
bat as a result of the bats' inability to forage during extended 
periods of high wind or rain, during which they may starve. Cyclone Val 
(December 1991) remained stationary over the Samoan archipelago for 
four days, and Pacific sheath-tailed bats likely were unable to feed 
during this time (Grant et al. 1994, p. 135). Despite the ability of 
Pacific sheath-tailed bats to enter torpor to survive episodes of 
inclement weather, the high ambient temperatures in Samoa may preclude 
the energy savings necessary to sustain a small (4-7-g) torpid bat for 
an extended period (Grant et al. 1994, p. 135).
    Hurricanes may also cause modification of the roosting habitat of 
the Pacific sheath-tailed bat by modifying vegetation in and around 
cave entrances and altering climate conditions within roosting caves as 
a result. Microchiropterans, such as the Pacific sheath-tailed bat, can 
spend over half their lives in their roosts; consequently, the 
microclimate of these habitats can exert a strong influence over their 
heat-energy balance (Campbell et al. 2011, p. 174). The presence of 
nearby forest cover and a well-developed tree canopy at cave entrances 
is likely to be important in maintaining temperature and relative 
humidity, and minimizing air movement in bat roosts, while allowing for 
passage. O'Shea and Valdez (2009, pp. 77-78) characterized the 
limestone cave ecosystem of the Mariana subspecies on Aguiguan as 
having constant temperature, high relative humidity, and no major air 
movement. Although such data are lacking for the Pacific sheath-tailed 
bat, alteration of climate conditions has been implicated in the 
abandonment of roost caves by other bat species (Hutson et al. 2001, p. 
101).
    Loss of forest cover and associated insect prey for bats as a 
result of hurricanes can reduce foraging opportunities. Following 
Cyclones Ofa (1990) and Val (1991), about 90 percent of the forests on 
Upolu and Savaii were blown over or defoliated (Park et al. 1992, p. 4; 
Elmqvist et al. 2002, pp. 385, 388). Tarburton (2002, p. 107) noted 
that the abundance of flying insects remained low for weeks after 
cyclones had defoliated trees. Although the Pacific sheath-tailed bat 
has the capacity to forage in a variety of habitats, a study of habitat 
use by the Mariana subspecies showed a clear preference for forested 
habitats (Esselstyn et al. 2004, p. 307). Finally, the Pacific sheath-
tailed bat's severely diminished abundance and distribution increase 
the likelihood that mortality events will cause population-level 
impacts and increase the vulnerability of populations and of the 
species to environmental catastrophes. Based on the information 
described above, we consider hurricanes to be a factor that exacerbates 
other threats to the Pacific sheath-tailed bat.
Low Numbers of Individuals and Populations
    The low numbers of individuals and populations of this subspecies 
place the Pacific sheath-tailed bat at great risk of extinction from 
inbreeding and stochastic events such as storms. The threat is 
significant for cave-dwelling species whose populations are often 
highly localized with few numbers of animals that can easily be lost in 
a severe storm, disease outbreak, or disturbance to the roost caves 
(Wiles and Worthington 2002, p. 20).
    Species that undergo significant habitat loss and degradation and 
face other threats resulting in decline in numbers and range reduction 
are inherently highly vulnerable to extinction resulting from localized 
catastrophes such as severe storms or disease outbreaks, climate change 
effects, and demographic stochasticity (Shaffer 1981, p. 131; Gilpin 
and Soul[eacute] 1986, pp. 24-34; Pimm et al. 1988, p. 757; Mangel and 
Tier 1994, p. 607). Conditions leading to this level of vulnerability 
are easily reached by island species that face numerous threats such as 
those described above. Small populations persisting in fragmented 
habitat face increased risk from environmental catastrophes, such as 
hurricanes, which could immediately extinguish some or all of the 
remaining populations; demographic stochasticity that could leave the 
species without sufficient males or females to be viable; or inbreeding 
depression or loss of adaptive potential that can be associated with 
loss of genetic diversity and result in eventual extinction (Shaffer 
1981, p. 131; Lacy 2000, pp. 40, 44-46). The problems associated with 
small population size and vulnerability to natural catastrophes or 
random demographic or genetic fluctuations are further magnified by 
synergistic interactions with ongoing threats such as those discussed 
above under Factors A and C (Lacy 2000, pp. 45-47).
Breakdown of the Metapopulation Equilibrium
    The Pacific sheath-tailed bat is thought to have a metapopulation 
structure (Palmeirim et al. 2005, p. 29), and will only persist in an 
archipelago if the island colonization rate is sufficiently high to 
compensate for the rate of extirpation caused by stochastic factors on 
individual islands (Palmeirim et al. 2005, p. 36). However, the 
colonization rate is obviously proportional to the availability of 
source populations; immigration of bats to recolonize sites or islands 
where the species was extirpated is dependent on sufficient numbers of 
animals existing in multiple other sites or islands within dispersal 
distance (Hanski and Gilpin 1991, pp. 4-14). Consequently, the 
extirpation of the Pacific sheath-tailed bat from some islands, 
particularly from the largest islands, may in the long term result in 
the permanent regional extinction of the species, even if suitable 
environmental conditions persist on some islands (Palmeirim et al. 
2005, p. 36). For example, the continued decline of the only 
significant source population of Pacific sheath-tailed bat in the 
Fijian archipelago greatly diminishes the probability of recolonization 
and persistence throughout the remainder of its range in Fiji, where it 
is currently considered to be extirpated or nearly extirpated. The loss 
of a functioning metapopulation is a current threat and will continue 
to be a threat in the future.
Climate Change
    Our analyses under the Act include consideration of ongoing and 
projected changes in climate. The terms ``climate'' and ``climate 
change'' are defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 
(IPCC). ``Climate'' refers to the mean and variability of different 
types of weather conditions over time, with 30 years being a typical 
period for such measurements, although shorter or longer periods also 
may be used (IPCC 2013, p. 1,450). The term ``climate change'' thus 
refers to a change in the mean or variability of one or more measures 
of climate (e.g., temperature or precipitation) that persists for an 
extended period, typically decades or longer, whether the change is due 
to natural variability, human activity, or both (IPCC 2013, p. 1,450). 
Various types of changes in climate can have direct or indirect effects 
on species. These effects may be positive, neutral, or negative and 
they may change over time, depending on the species and other relevant 
considerations, such as the effects of interactions of climate

[[Page 61579]]

with other variables (e.g., habitat fragmentation) (IPCC 2007, pp. 8-
14, 18). Climate change will be a particular challenge for the 
conservation of biodiversity because the introduction and interaction 
of additional stressors may push species beyond their ability to 
survive (Lovejoy 2005, pp. 325-326). The synergistic effects of climate 
change and habitat fragmentation are the most menacing facet of climate 
change for biodiversity (Hannah et al. 2005, p. 4). Currently, there 
are no climate change studies that address impacts to the specific 
habitat of the Pacific sheath-tailed bat. There are, however, climate 
change studies that address potential changes in the tropical Pacific 
on a broader scale.
    In our analyses, we reference the scientific assessment and climate 
change predictions for the western Pacific region prepared by the 
Pacific Climate Change Science Program (PCCSP), a collaborative 
research partnership between the Australian Government and 14 Pacific 
Island countries, including Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, and Vanuatu (Australian 
BOM and CSIRO 2011 Vol. 1, p. 15). The assessment builds on the Fourth 
Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 
(IPCC), and presents regional predictions for the area roughly between 
25[deg] S. to 20[deg] N. and 120[deg] E. to 150[deg] W. (excluding the 
Australian region south of 10[deg] S. and west of 155[deg] E.) 
(Australian BOM and CSIRO 2011 Vol. 1, pp. 14, 20). The findings for 
Samoa (13[deg] S. and 171[deg] E.) may be used as a proxy for American 
Samoa (14[deg] S. and 170[deg] W.).
    The annual average air temperatures and sea surface temperatures 
are projected to increase in American Samoa, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, and 
Vanuatu, as well as throughout the western Pacific region (Australian 
BOM and CSIRO 2011 Vol. 2, pp. 91, 198, 228, 258). The projected 
regional warming is around 0.5-1.0 [deg]C by 2030, regardless of the 
emissions scenario. By 2055, the warming is generally 1.0-1.5 [deg]C 
with regional differences depending on the emissions scenario. 
Projected changes associated with increases in temperature include, but 
are not limited to, changes in mean precipitation with unpredictable 
effects on local environments (including ecosystem processes such as 
nutrient cycling), increased occurrence of drought cycles, increases in 
the intensity and number of severe storms, sea-level rise, a shift in 
vegetation zones upslope, and shifts in in the ranges and lifecycles of 
individual species (Loope and Giambelluca 1998, pp. 514-515; Pounds et 
al. 1999, pp. 611-612; IPCC AR4 2007, p. 48; Emanuel et al. 2008, p. 
365; U.S. Global Change Research Program (US-GCRP) 2009, pp. 145-149, 
153; Keener et al. 2010, pp. 25-28; Sturrock et al. 2011, p. 144; 
Townsend et al. 2011, pp. 14-15; Warren 2011, pp. 221-226; Finucane et 
al. 2012, pp. 23-26; Keener et al. 2012, pp. 47-51).
    In the western Pacific region, increased ambient temperatures is 
projected to lead to increases in annual mean rainfall, the number of 
heavy rain days (20-50 mm), and extreme rainfall events in American 
Samoa, Samoa Fiji, Tonga, and Vanuatu (Australian BOM and CSIRO 2011 
Vol. 1, p. 178; Australian BOM and CSIRO 2011 Vol. 2, pp. 87-88, 194-
195, 224-225, 254-255). Impacts of increased precipitation on the 
Pacific sheath-tailed bat are unknown.
    Hurricanes are projected to decrease in frequency in this part of 
the Pacific but increase in severity as a result of global warming 
(Australian BOM and CSIRO 2011 Vol. 2, pp. 88, 195, 225, 255). The high 
winds, waves, strong storm surges, high rainfall, and flooding 
associated with hurricanes, particularly severe hurricanes (with 
sustained winds of 150 mi (240 km) per hour), have periodically caused 
great damage to roosting habitat of Pacific sheath-tailed bats and to 
native forests that provide their foraging habitat (Craig et al. 1993, 
p. 52; Grant et al. 1994, p. 135; Tarburton 2002, pp. 105-108; 
Palmeirim et al. 2005, p. 35), as described in the ``Hurricanes'' 
section, above.
    In the western Pacific region, sea level is projected to rise 1.18 
to 6.3 in (30 to 160 mm) by 2030, 2.6 to 12.2 in (70 to 310 mm) by 
2055, and 8.3 in to 2 ft (210 to 620 mm) by 2090 under the high-
emissions scenario (Australian BOM and CSIRO 2011 Vol. 2, pp. 91, 198, 
228, 258). The Pacific sheath-tailed bat is known to roost in areas 
close to the coast and forage in the adjacent forested areas at or near 
sea-level, as well as inland and at elevations up to 2,500 ft (762 m). 
The impacts of projected sea-level rise on low-elevation and coastal 
roosting and foraging habitat are likely to reduce and fragment the 
bat's habitat on individual high islands.
    In summary, although we lack information about the specific effects 
of projected climate change on the Pacific sheath-tailed bat, we 
anticipate that increased ambient temperature, precipitation, hurricane 
intensity, and sea-level rise and inundation would create additional 
stresses on the bat and on its roosting and foraging habitat because it 
is vulnerable to these disturbances. The risk of extinction as a result 
of the effects of climate change increases when a species' range and 
habitat requirements are restricted, its habitat decreases, and its 
numbers and number of populations decline (IPCC 2007, pp. 8-11). In 
addition, the fragmented range, diminished number of populations, and 
low total number of individuals have caused the Pacific sheath-tailed 
bat to lose redundancy and resilience rangewide. Therefore, we would 
expect the Pacific sheath-tailed bat to be particularly vulnerable to 
the habitat impacts of projected environmental effects of climate 
change (Loope and Giambelluca 1998, pp. 504-505; Pounds et al. 1999, 
pp. 611-612; Still et al. 1999, p. 610; Benning et al. 2002, pp. 
14,246-14,248; Giambelluca and Luke 2007, pp. 13-15). Based on the 
above information, we conclude that habitat impacts resulting from the 
effects of climate change are not a current threat but are likely to 
become a threat to the Pacific sheath-tailed bat in the future.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Other Natural or Manmade Factors 
Affecting Its Continued Existence
    We are unaware of any conservation actions planned or implemented 
at this time to abate the threats of roost disturbance, low numbers, 
hurricanes, or breakdown of the metapopulation equilibrium that 
negatively impact the Pacific sheath-tailed bat.
Summary of Factor E
    In summary, based on the best scientific and commercial information 
available, we consider other natural and manmade factors to be current 
and ongoing threats to the Pacific sheath-tailed bat. Roost 
disturbance, small population size, and breakdown of the metapopulation 
dynamic are threats to the Pacific sheath-tailed bat and are likely to 
continue in the future. The bat's small and isolated remaining 
populations are vulnerable to natural environmental catastrophes such 
as hurricanes, and the threats of small population size and hurricanes 
are likely to continue into the future. Due to reduced levels of 
pesticide use and the uncertainty regarding impacts to this species, we 
do not consider the use of pesticides to be a threat to the Pacific 
sheath-tailed bat. Although we do not consider climate change to be a 
current threat to the Pacific sheath-tailed bat, we anticipate that 
climate change is likely to exacerbate other threats to the species and 
to become a threat in the future.

Synergistic Effects

    In our analysis of the five factors, we found that the Pacific 
sheath-tailed bat is likely to be affected by loss of forest

[[Page 61580]]

habitat, predation by nonnative mammals, roost disturbance, and small 
population size. We also identify several potential sources of risk to 
the species (e.g., disease, pesticides, climate change) that we do not 
currently consider to be significantly affecting the Pacific sheath-
tailed bat because of their low occurrence today or apparently minimal 
overall impact on the species. Multiple stressors acting in combination 
have greater potential to affect the Pacific sheath-tailed bat than 
each factor alone. The combined effects of environmental, demographic, 
and catastrophic-event stressors, especially on a small population can 
lead to a decline that is unrecoverable and results in extinction 
(Brook et al. 2008, pp. 457-458). The impacts of the stressors 
described above, which might be sustained by a larger, more resilient 
population, have the potential in combination to rapidly affect the 
size, growth rate, and genetic integrity of a species that persists as 
small, disjunct populations. Thus, factors that, by themselves, may not 
have a significant effect on the Pacific sheath-tailed bat, may affect 
the subspecies when considered in combination.

Proposed Determination for the Pacific Sheath-Tailed Bat

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and its implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR part 424, set forth the procedures for adding 
species to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and 
Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, we may list a species based 
on (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) Overutilization for 
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) 
Disease or predation; (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms; or (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its 
continued existence. Listing actions may be warranted based on any of 
the above threat factors, singly or in combination.
    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to the Pacific sheath-tailed bat. We find that the Pacific sheath-
tailed bat is presently in danger of extinction throughout its entire 
range based on the severity and immediacy of the ongoing and projected 
threats described above. Habitat loss and degradation due to 
deforestation, predation by nonnative mammals, human disturbance of 
roost caves, and stochastic events such as hurricanes, floods, or 
disease outbreaks, which all pose a particular threat to the small and 
isolated remaining populations and probable low total abundance 
throughout its range, render the Pacific sheath-tailed bat in its 
entirety highly susceptible to extinction as a consequence of these 
imminent threats. The vulnerability of the species and its cave habitat 
to the impacts of predation and human disturbance is exacerbated by 
hurricanes and likely to be further exacerbated in the future by the 
effects of climate change, such as sea level rise, extreme rain events, 
and increased storm severity. The breakdown of the Pacific sheath-
tailed bat's metapopulation structure is expected to reduce 
opportunities for repopulation following local extirpations of 
dwindling populations due to stochastic events. In addition, the 
continued decline of the last relatively large population of this 
species in Fiji further diminishes the probability of persistence 
throughout the remainder of its range where it is currently considered 
to be extirpated or nearly extirpated. In addition, the continued 
decline of the last relatively large population of this species in Fiji 
further diminishes the probability of persistence throughout the 
remainder of its range where it is currently considered to be 
extirpated or nearly extirpated.
    In summary, habitat destruction and modification from deforestation 
is a threat to the Pacific sheath-tailed bat that is occurring 
throughout its range (Factor A). The threat of predation by nonnative 
predators such as rats and feral cats is ongoing (Factor C). Existing 
regulatory mechanisms do not address the threats to the Pacific sheath-
tailed bat (Factor D). Human disturbance of roost caves, low numbers of 
individuals and populations and their concomitant vulnerability to 
catastrophic events such as hurricanes, and the breakdown of the 
metapopulation structure all are current threats to the bat as well 
(Factor E). All of these factors pose threats to the Pacific sheath-
tailed bat, whether we consider their effects individually or 
cumulatively, and all of these threats will continue in the future.
    The Act defines an endangered species as any species that is ``in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range'' and a threatened species as any species ``that is likely to 
become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range 
within the foreseeable future.'' We find that the Pacific sheath-tailed 
bat is presently in danger of extinction throughout its entire range 
based on the severity and immediacy of threats currently impacting the 
species. Therefore, On the basis of the best available scientific and 
commercial information, we propose listing Pacific sheath-tailed bat as 
endangered in accordance with sections 3(6) and 4(a)(1) of the Act.
    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may 
warrant listing if it is in danger of extinction or likely to become so 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Because we have 
determined that the Pacific sheath-tailed bat is endangered throughout 
all of its range, no portion of its range can be ``significant'' for 
purposes of the definitions of ``endangered species'' and ``threatened 
species.'' See the Final Policy on Interpretation of the Phrase 
``Significant Portion of Its Range'' in the Endangered Species Act's 
Definitions of ``Endangered Species'' and ``Threatened Species'' (79 FR 
37577, July 1, 2014).

Mao, Gymnomyza samoensis

    The genus Gymnomyza refers to birds in the honeyeater family 
Meliphagidae, which are restricted to a few islands in the southwestern 
Pacific Ocean. The mao (Gymnomyza samoensis), also called maomao, is 
one of three honeyeater species in the genus (Mayr 1945, p. 100). We 
have carefully reviewed the available taxonomic information (Watling 
2001, p. 174; BirdLife International 2013; Gill and Donsker 2015; ITIS 
2015a) and have concluded the species is a valid taxon.
    The mao is a large (approximately 11 in (28 cm)), ``very dark-
looking honeyeater . . . uniformly olive-black with a brown suffusion, 
except for an olive stripe beneath the eye. The ``slender, down-curved 
bill and feet are black'' (Watling 2001, p. 174). Butler and Stirnemann 
(2013, p. 25) report that male mao have blue eyes and are larger, while 
females are smaller with brown eyes. Juveniles have a shorter bill than 
adults, and eye color changes 2 months post-fledging (Butler and 
Stirnemann 2013, p. 25). The mao is a very vocal species and makes a 
variety of loud distinctive calls with bouts of calling lasting up to a 
minute (Watling 2001, p. 174). Calls differ between sexes (Butler and 
Stirnemann 2013, p. 25).
    The mao is endemic to the Samoan archipelago. The species was 
thought to be primarily restricted to mature, well-developed, moist, 
mossy forests at upper elevations (Watling 2001, p. 175; Engbring and 
Ramsey 1989, p. 68), but has recently been observed at elevations 
ranging from 932 to 5,075 ft (284 to 1,547 m) and in ecosystems 
including lowland rainforest, disturbed secondary forest, and montane 
rainforest (MNRE 2006, pp. 9-10). The birds use the mid- to upper-
canopy levels of the forest and

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will also forage along forest edges and brushy forest openings 
(Engbring and Ramsey 1989, p. 68). The mao has also been recorded 
visiting coconut trees near the coast (Watling 2001, p. 175).
    Butler and Stirnemann (2013, p. 30) provide the following 
information about the mao's habitat use. The birds only occur in 
forested areas with a canopy layer, including modified habitat such as 
plantations where large trees also are present. They do not occur in 
logged areas with no large trees or canopy. Mao are primarily found in 
the high canopy layer, but also spend considerable time foraging on the 
trunks of trees and feeding on nectar sources near the ground (such as 
ginger (family Zingiberaceae)) and in low bushes (such as Heliconia 
spp.). The mao selects territories with high tree species diversity and 
with appropriate nectar sources and a large tree from which the male 
sings. Trees near a commonly used singing tree are selected for 
nesting. No particular tree species is used for nesting, but all nests 
are built more than 5 meters above the ground.
    Butler and Stirnemann (2013, pp. 19-32) provide the following 
information about mao life history and breeding behavior. Based on a 
study of 15 nests, the mao nests once a year, between June and October, 
and produces one egg per clutch (Butler and Stirnemann 2013, pp. 19-
32). The nest consists of young branches of various trees and contains 
little lining (Butler and Stirnemann 2013, p. 25). Incubation lasts 19 
days, and chicks fledge 21-22 days after hatching. Juveniles are 
dependent on adults for approximately 8 to 10 weeks post-fledging. The 
female is almost exclusively responsible for incubation and feeding the 
chick, and both adults defend the nest. The mao will re-nest if the 
first nest fails, but not if the first nesting attempt produces a 
chick. Pairs are highly territorial with high site fidelity.
    The mao's diet consists primarily of nectar, and also includes some 
invertebrates and fruit (MNRE 2006, p. 11). Nectar is an especially 
important food source during the breeding season, and the mao will 
defend nectar patches (Butler and Stirnemann 2013, p. 30). The mao eats 
invertebrates by probing dead material and moss, and by gleaning from 
emerging leaves (Butler and Stirnemann 2013, p. 30). Females forage for 
invertebrates under dead leaves on the forest floor to feed their 
fledglings (Butler and Stirnemann 2013, p. 30). Fledglings solicit food 
from the female by begging continually from the forest floor (Butler 
and Stirnemann 2013, p. 28).
    The mao was once found throughout Savaii and Upolu (Samoa) likely 
in forests ranging from the coast to mountain tops (MNRE 2006, p. 2). 
It is endemic to the islands of Savaii and Upolu, Samoa, and Tutuila 
Island, American Samoa (Engbring and Ramsey 1989, p. 68; Watling 2001, 
p. 174). The mao was observed during an 1839 expedition on Tutuila 
(Amerson et al. 1982, p. 72), two male specimens were collected there 
in 1924, and an unconfirmed observation of the mao on Tutuila was 
reported in 1977 (Engbring and Ramsey 1989, p. 68; Watling 2001, p. 
174).
    The mao is currently found only on the islands of Savaii and Upolu 
in Samoa (Amerson et al. 1982, p. 72; Engbring and Ramsey 1989, p. 68; 
Watling 2001, p. 74; MNRE 2006, p. 2). In 1984, the mao was reported as 
common in undisturbed upland forests (foothill, montane, and cloud 
forests above 1,970 ft (600 m)) of Upolu and Savaii (Bellingham and 
Davis 1988, p. 124). A decline in distribution was observed in the 
1990s following a period in which several powerful hurricanes hit 
Samoa: Tusi (1987), Ofa (1990), and Val (1991) (Lovegrove 1992, p. 26; 
MNRE 2006, pp. 2, 4). Otherwise, no detailed surveys of the mao were 
conducted before 2005, and little information exists regarding changes 
in abundance and distribution (MNRE 2006, p. 2). Surveys conducted in 
2005-2006 found mao at seven sites on Upolu and Savaii in upland 
forested habitat, yielded a rough estimate of 500 individuals and 
indicated that numbers are declining (MNRE 2006, p. 4; Tipamaa 2007, in 
litt., cited in Birdlife International 2012). The Rapid Biodiversity 
Assessment of Upland Savaii, Samoa conducted in 2012 detected small 
numbers of the mao at two sites on the island (Atherton and Jefferies 
2012, p. 14), and it is possible that the species has particular 
habitat requirements that have become limited in Samoa (MNRE 2013, p. 
12). Neither the 2012 surveys nor a study of the species' biology and 
movements (Butler and Stirnemann 2013) yielded an updated population 
estimate. However, researchers observed that the species is rarer than 
previously thought and recommended that comprehensive surveys be 
conducted to generate a new population estimate (Stirnemann 2015, in 
litt).
    The mao is likely extirpated from Tutuila Island in American Samoa 
(Freifeld 1999, p. 1,208). Surveys conducted on Tutuila Island in 1982 
and 1986 and from 1992 to 1996 did not detect the mao (Amerson et al. 
1982, p. 72; Engbring and Ramsey 1989; p. 68; Freifeld 2015 in litt.). 
Given that the species is noisy and conspicuous, it is unlikely that a 
population on Tutuila was missed during the surveys (Engbring and 
Ramsey 1989; p. 68). More recent surveys conducted by DMWR in forested 
habitats likely to support mao failed to detect their presence, further 
indicating the likelihood that the species no longer occurs on Tutuila 
(MacDonald 2015 in litt.).
    The mao is listed as Endangered in the 2014 IUCN Red List (Birdlife 
International 2012). Endangered is IUCN's second most severe category 
of extinction assessment, which equates to a very high risk of 
extinction in the wild. IUCN criteria include the rate of decline, 
population size, area of geographic distribution, and degree of 
population and distribution fragmentation; however, IUCN rankings do 
not confer any actual protection or management.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Mao

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

Habitat Destruction and Modification by Deforestation
    Several thousand years of subsistence agriculture and more recent 
commercial agriculture has resulted in the alteration and great 
reduction in area of forests at lower elevations in the Samoan 
archipelago (Whistler 1994, p. 40; Mueller-Dombois and Fosberg 1998, p. 
361; Whistler 2002, pp. 130-131). In American Samoa, forest clearing 
for agriculture has contributed to habitat loss and degradation of 
forests in the lowland areas on Tutuila, and has the potential to 
spread into higher elevations and previously undisturbed forest; 
however, owing to limits on the feasibility of land-clearing imposed by 
the island's extreme topography, large areas of mature native 
rainforest have persisted. Deforestation, therefore, is unlikely to 
have been a cause of the mao's extirpation on this island in American 
Samoa.
    The loss of forested habitat in Samoa is a primary threat to the 
mao (MNRE 2006, p. 5). Between 1954 and 1990, the amount of forested 
area declined from 74 to 46 percent of total land area in Samoa (Food 
and Agricultural Organization (FAO) 2005 in litt.). Between 1978 and 
1990, 20 percent of all forest losses in Samoa were attributable to 
logging, with 97 percent of the logging having occurred on Savaii 
(Government of Samoa 1998 in Whistler 2002, p. 132). Forested land area 
in Samoa continued to decline at a rate of

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roughly 2.1 percent or 7,400 ac (3,000 ha) annually from 1990 to 2000 
(FAO 2005 in litt.). As a result, there is very little undisturbed, 
mature forest left in Samoa (Watling 2001, p. 175; FAO 2005 in litt.).
    The clearing of land for commercial agriculture has been the 
leading cause of deforestation in Samoa--more so than plantations or 
logging (Whistler 2002, p. 131). The transition from subsistence 
agriculture to developing cash crops for export (e.g., taro, bananas, 
cacao) coupled with rapid population growth and new technologies, led 
to increased forest clearing in Samoa (Paulson 1994, pp. 326-332; 
Whistler 2002, pp. 130-131). Today, only 360 ac (146 ha) of native 
lowland rainforests (below 2,000 ft or 600 m) remain on Savaii and 
Upolu as a result of logging, agricultural clearing, residential 
clearing (including relocation due to tsunami), and natural causes such 
as rising sea level and hurricanes (MNRE 2013, p. 47). On Upolu, direct 
or indirect human influence has caused extensive damage to native 
forest habitat above 2,000 ft (600 m) (MNRE 2013, p. 13). Although 
forested, almost all upland forests on Upolu are largely dominated by 
introduced species today (MNRE 2013, p. 12). Savaii still has extensive 
upland forests which are for the most part undisturbed and composed of 
native species (MNRE 2013, p. 40). However, forest clearance remains an 
ongoing threat to the mao (MNRE 2006, p. 5). Logging is slowing down 
because the most accessible forest has largely been removed, but is an 
ongoing problem on Savaii despite years of effort to phase it out (MNRE 
2006, p. 5; Atherton and Jeffries 2012, p. 17). Shifting or slash-and-
burn cultivation is an increasing concern in upland forest that 
provides important refuges for the mao because farmers use forestry 
roads from heavily logged lowland forests to gain access to formerly 
inaccessible land (MNRE 2006, p. 5). For example, there is much concern 
about potential forest loss because of road that has been bulldozed 
into the cloud forest (above 3,280 ft (1,000 m)) on Savaii, apparently 
illegally (Atherton and Jeffries 2012, p. 16). Such roads provide 
vectors for invasive nonnative plant and animal species as well, thus 
exacerbating those threats to the mao and its habitat (Atherton and 
Jeffries 2012, p. 108).
    Habitat quality has also degraded with the loss of closed forest 
space (MNRE 2006, p. 5; Butler and Stirnemann 2013, p. 22). An analysis 
in 1999 identified 32 percent of the total forest cover as ``open'' 
forest (less than 40 percent tree cover) and less than 0.05 percent as 
``closed'' forest, largely as a result of damage from Cyclones Ofa and 
Val (Butler and Stirnemann 2013, p. 22). An additional 24 percent of 
the forest cover is classified as secondary re-growth forest. As a 
result, the montane forest in Samoa is now extremely open and patchy 
with fewer food resources for birds, including the mao (Butler and 
Stirnemann 2013, p. 22). The montane forests are also increasingly 
vulnerable to invasion by nonnative trees and other plants (Butler and 
Stirnemann 2013, p. 22), which adversely affect native forests through 
competition for light, nutrients, and water; chemical inhibition; and 
prevention of reproduction. Loss of forest is likely to affect the mao 
by reducing breeding, nesting, and foraging habitat, increasing forest 
fragmentation, and increasing the abundance and diversity of invasive 
species (Butler and Stirnemann 2013, p. 22).
    On the island of Tutuila, American Samoa, agriculture and urban 
development covers approximately 24 percent of the island, and up to 60 
percent of the island contains slopes of less than 30 percent where 
additional land clearing is feasible (ASCC 2010, p. 13; DWMR 2006, p. 
25). Farmers are increasingly encroaching into some of the steep 
forested areas as a result of suitable flat lands already being 
occupied with urban development and agriculture (ASCC 2010, p. 13). 
Consequently, agricultural plots have spread from low elevations up to 
middle and some high elevations on Tutuila.
    In summary, deforestation by land-clearing for agriculture has been 
the major contributing factor in the loss and degradation of forested 
habitat for the mao throughout its range in Samoa and American Samoa, 
and logging has been an additional major factor in loss and degradation 
of forest habitat in Samoa. The majority of the lowland forests have 
either been lost or fragmented by land-clearing for agriculture. Upland 
areas in Samoa have suffered extensive deforestation from logging and 
are increasingly at risk as agriculture and development expand into 
these areas. Based on the above information, we conclude that the 
threat of habitat destruction and modification by agriculture and 
development is a current threat to the mao and will continue into the 
future.
Habitat Destruction and Modification by Nonnative Plants
    Nonnative plant species can degrade the habitat of native species 
and their impacts to native forest often are facilitated or exacerbated 
by the impacts of other threats such as hurricanes, agriculture and 
development, and feral ungulates.
    The native flora of the Samoan archipelago (plant species that were 
present before humans arrived) consisted of approximately 550 taxa, 30 
percent of which were endemic (species that occur only in the American 
Samoa and Samoa) (Whistler 2002, p. 8). An additional 250 plant species 
have been intentionally or accidentally introduced and have become 
naturalized with 20 or more of these considered invasive or potentially 
invasive in American Samoa (Whistler 2002, p. 8; Space and Flynn 2000, 
pp. 23-24). Of these approximately 20 or more nonnative pest plant 
species, at least 10 have altered or have the potential to alter the 
habitat of the mao and the other four species proposed for listing 
(Atkinson and Medeiros 2006, p. 18; Craig 2009, pp. 94, 97-98; ASCC 
2010, p. 15).
    Nonnative plants can degrade native habitat in Pacific island 
environments by: (1) Modifying the availability of light through 
alterations of the canopy structure; (2) altering soil-water regimes; 
(3) modifying nutrient cycling; (4) ultimately converting native-
dominated plant communities to nonnative plant communities; and (5) 
increasing the frequency of landslides and erosion (Smith 1985, pp. 
217-218; Cuddihy and Stone, 1990, p. 74; Matson 1990, p. 245; D'Antonio 
and Vitousek 1992, p. 73; Vitousek et al. 1997, pp. 6-9; Atkinson and 
Medeiros 2006, p. 16). Nonnative plant species often exploit the 
disturbance caused by other factors such as hurricanes, agriculture and 
development, and feral ungulates, and thus, in combination reinforce or 
exacerbate their negative impacts to native habitats. Although the 
areas within the National Park of American Samoa (NPSA, on the islands 
of Tutuila, Ofu, and Tau) contain many areas that are relatively free 
of human disturbance and alien invasion and largely represent pre-
contact vegetation, the threat of invasion and further spread by 
nonnative plant species poses immense cause for concern (Atkinson and 
Medeiros 2006, p. 17; ASCC 2010, p. 22).
    The invasive vines Merremia peltata and Mikania micrantha have 
serious impacts in forested areas and prevent reforestation of former 
agriculture areas in Samoa and American Samoa; they are prolific 
invaders of forest gaps and disturbed sites, and can have a smothering 
effect on growing trees, blocking sunlight to sub-canopy and 
undergrowth vegetation (MNRE 2013, p. 29). Similarly, several invasive 
trees also negatively affect native forests in Samoa by outcompeting 
native species

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in forest gaps, getting established and moving further into old 
secondary regrowth and primary forests. A significant portion of 
Samoa's forest are now classified as secondary re-growth dominated by 
invasive tree species such as Falcataria moluccana (albizia, tamaligi), 
Castilla elastica (Mexican rubber tree, pulu mamoe), Spathodea 
campanulata (African tulip, faapasi), and Funtumia elastica (African 
rubber tree, pulu vao) (MNRE 2013, p. 29). In addition, the invasive 
shrub Clidemia hirta is found in remote areas of upland forests in 
Savaii (Atherton and Jeffries 2012, p. 103). Although the mao forage 
and occasionally nest in modified habitat such as plantation areas 
where nonnative trees that provide nectar and nesting habitat (e.g., 
Falcataria moluccana) may occur, these habitats lack the high tree-
species diversity preferred by the mao and also place the species at a 
greater risk of predation by nonnative predators (see Factor C below) 
(Butler and Stirnemann 2013, p. 30). In summary, while the best 
available information does not provide the exact distribution of 
nonnative plant species, the habitat-modifying impacts of nonnative 
species are expected to continue and are not likely to be reduced in 
the future. Based on the above information, we conclude that the threat 
of habitat destruction and modification by nonnative plant species is a 
current threat to the mao and will continue into the future.
    The following list provides a brief description of the nonnative 
plants that have the greatest negative impacts to the native forest 
habitat for the mao in American Samoa (Space and Flynn 2000, pp. 23-24; 
Craig 2009, pp. 94, 96-98; ASCC 2010, p. 15):
    Adenanthera pavonina (red bean tree, coral bean tree, lopa), native 
to India and Malaysia, is a medium-sized tree up to 50 ft (15 m) high 
that invades intact forests as well as disturbed sites, and can quickly 
form large stands (GISD 2006). In American Samoa, it is invasive in 
secondary forests, but also has the ability to become more widely 
established on Tutuila and the Manua Islands (Space and Flynn 2000, p. 
4). It is considered to have negative impacts on the native forests in 
American Samoa because the trees produce large quantities of seed, grow 
on a variety of soils, and can overtop many native trees and eventually 
form monotypic stands (Space and Flynn 2002, p. 5).
    Castilla elastica (Mexican rubber tree, pulu mamoe), native to 
tropical America, is a medium-sized tree 15 to 30 ft (5 to 10 m) high 
that can invade intact forest where it reproduces prolifically and can 
crowd out native species (NPSA 2012, in litt.). It has displaced 
significant areas of lowland forest in Samoa, and is now considered to 
be an important threat to native forests in American Samoa (Atkinson 
and Medeiros 2006, p. 18).
    Cinnamomum verum (cinnamon, tinamoni), native to south Asia, is a 
fast-growing, medium-sized tree up to 30 ft (9 m) high with aromatic 
bark and leaves. It forms dense root mats that inhibit establishment of 
other plants, and can shade out other tree species and thus create 
monotypic stands. On Tutuila, it is actively spreading in the ridge 
forests of Mt. Matafao, Matuu, and Maloata (Space and Flynn 2000, p. 4; 
NPSA 2012, in litt.).
    The shrub Clidemia hirta (Koster's curse), native to the New World 
from Mexico to Argentina, grows to be 6.6 ft (2 m) in height, forms a 
dense understory, shades out native plants, and prevents their 
regeneration (Wagner et al. 1985, p. 41; Smith 1989, p. 64). On Tau, it 
has become a serious problem in the unique summit scrub community 
(Whistler 1992, p. 22).
    Falcataria moluccana (albizia, tamaligi), native to Moluccas, New 
Guinea, New Britain, and the Solomon Islands, is a tree that can reach 
131 ft (40 m) in height and has a wide-spreading canopy. It grows 
rapidly and outcompetes slow-growing native trees by reducing light 
availability, and its abundant, high-nutrient litter alters soil 
chemistry (GISD 2008). Its shallow root system may lead to soil 
instability and landslides (Atkinson and Medeiros 2006, p. 17).
    Funtumia elastica (African rubber tree, pulu vao), is a medium-
sized tree up to 100 ft (30 m) tall native to tropical Africa (U.S. 
Department of Agriculture--Agricultural Research Service (USDA) 2006). 
This tree is invasive because of its ``parachute seeds'' that can 
disperse long distances and germinate in sunny or shady conditions 
(Whistler 2002, p. 122). Funtumia has become a dominant subcanopy and 
understory tree in the western half of Upolu where it can form 
monotypic forests (Pearsall and Whistler 1991, p. 30). It is also 
established and becoming dominant on eastern Savaii (Whistler 2002, p. 
122). This species has the potential to become a major problem in 
American Samoa due to its proximity and the volume of traffic with 
Samoa (Space and Flynn 2000, p. 12).
    Leucaena leucocephala (wild tamarind, lusina, fua pepe), a shrub 
native to the neotropics, is a nitrogen-fixer and an aggressive 
competitor that often forms the dominant element of the vegetation 
(Geesink et al. 1999, pp. 679-680). It crowds out native species and 
resprouts vigorously after cutting, and seeds can remain viable for 10 
to 20 years (Craig 2009, p. 98).
    Merremia peltata (Merremia, fue lautetele), is an indigenous, 
sprawling, or high-climbing vine that can invade areas following 
disturbances such as land-clearing and hurricanes. This fast-growing 
vine can smother plantation and forest trees (Craig 2009, p. 98).
    Mikania micrantha (mile-a-minute vine, fue saina), native to 
tropical America, is a scrambling or climbing herbaceous vine, that 
retards forest regeneration with its smothering growth (Whistler 1994, 
p. 42). This sun-loving, shade-intolerant vine is a major pest of 
plantations and forests on all major American Samoa islands (Space and 
Flynn 2000, p. 5; Craig 2009, p. 94).
    Psidium cattleianum (strawberry guava, kuava) is a tall shrub or 
small tree that forms dense stands in which few other plants can grow, 
displacing native vegetation through competition. The fruit is eaten by 
feral pigs and birds that disperse the seeds throughout the forest 
(Smith 1985, p. 200; Wagner et al. 1985, p. 24). It is thought to have 
been cultivated in American Samoa for more than 40 years and has become 
naturalized in lowland rainforest on western Tutuila.
    Spathodea campanulata (African tulip, faapasi), native to tropical 
Africa, is a large tree up to 80 ft (24 m) or more in height with showy 
red-orange tulip-like flowers and pods containing hundreds of wind-
dispersed seeds (Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) 2013). It is 
particularly invasive in low- to mid-elevation forests, and can spread 
in open agricultural land, waste areas, and intact native forest, 
forming dense stands that shade out other vegetation (GISD 2010).
Habitat Destruction and Modification by Nonnative Ungulates
    Feral pigs (Sus scrofa) cause multiple negative impacts to island 
ecosystems including the destruction of vegetation, spread of invasive 
nonnative plant species, and increased soil erosion. In addition, feral 
cattle (Bos taurus) consume tree seedlings and browse saplings, and 
combined with undergrowth disturbance, prevent forest regeneration, 
subsequently opening the forest to invasion by nonnative species 
(Cuddihy 1984, p. 16).
    Feral pigs are known to cause deleterious impacts to ecosystem 
processes and functions throughout their worldwide distribution (Aplet 
et al. 1991, p. 56; Anderson and Stone 1993, p. 201; Campbell and Long 
2009, p. 2,319). Feral pigs are extremely destructive and have both 
direct and

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indirect impacts on native plant communities. Pigs are a major vector 
for the establishment and spread of invasive, nonnative plant species 
by dispersing plant seeds on their hooves and fur, and in their feces 
(Diong 1982, pp. 169-170, 196-197), which also serve to fertilize 
disturbed soil (Siemann et al. 2009, p. 547). In addition, pig rooting 
and wallowing contributes to erosion by clearing vegetation and 
creating large areas of disturbed soil, especially on slopes (Smith 
1985, pp. 190, 192, 196, 200, 204, 230-231; Stone 1985, pp. 254-255, 
262-264; Tomich 1986, pp. 120-126; Cuddihy and Stone 1990, pp. 64-65; 
Aplet et al. 1991, p. 56; Loope et al. 1991, pp. 18-19; Gagne and 
Cuddihy 1999, p. 52; Nogueira-Filho et al. 2009, p. 3,681; CNMI-
Statewide Assessment and Resource Strategy (SWARS) 2010, p. 15; Dunkell 
et al. 2011, pp. 175-177; Kessler 2011, pp. 320, 323). Erosion 
resulting from rooting and trampling by pigs impacts native plant 
communities by contributing to watershed degradation and alteration of 
plant nutrient status, and increasing the likelihood of landslides 
(Vitousek et al. 2009, pp. 3,074-3,086; Chan-Halbrendt et al. 2010, p. 
251; Kessler 2011, pp. 320-324). In the Hawaiian Islands, pigs have 
been described as the most pervasive and disruptive nonnative influence 
on the unique native forests, and are widely recognized as one of the 
greatest current threats to Hawaii's forest ecosystems (Aplet et al. 
1991, p. 56; Anderson and Stone 1993, p. 195).
    In American Samoa, feral pigs continue to negatively affect 
forested habitats. Feral pigs have been present in American Samoa since 
antiquity (American Samoa Historic Preservation Office 2015, in litt.). 
In the past, hunting pressure kept their numbers down, however, 
increasing urbanization and increasing availability of material goods 
has resulted in the decline in the practice of pig hunting to almost 
nothing (Whistler 1992, p. 21; 1994, p. 41). Feral pigs are moderately 
common to abundant in many forested areas, where they spread invasive 
plants, damage understory vegetation, and destroy riparian areas by 
their feeding and wallowing behavior (DMWR 2006, p. 23; ASCC 2010, p. 
15). Feral pigs are a serious problem in the NPSA because of the damage 
they cause to native vegetation through their rooting and wallowing 
(Whistler 1992, p. 21; 1994, p. 41; Hoshide 1996, p. 2; Cowie and Cook 
1999, p. 48; Togia pers. comm. in Loope et al. 2013, p. 321). Such 
damage to understory vegetation is likely to reduce foraging 
opportunities for the mao. Pig densities have been reduced in some 
areas by snaring and hunting, but remain high in other areas (ASCC 
2010, p. 15).
    In Samoa, feral pigs are present throughout lowland and upland 
areas on Savaii, and are considered to have a negative impact on the 
ecological integrity of upland forests of Savaii, an important 
conservation area for the mao and other rare species (Atherton and 
Jeffries 2012, p. 17). During recent surveys, feral pig activity was 
common at most sites in upland forests on Savaii, and was even detected 
at the upper range of the mao at an elevation of 4,921 ft (1,500 m) 
(Atherton and Jefferies 2012, pp. 103, 146). Significant numbers of 
feral cattle were present in an upland site where their trampling had 
kept open grassy areas within forested flats, and where mao had 
previously been observed (Atherton and Jeffries 2012, pp. 103-105). 
Trampling in forested areas damages understory vegetation and is likely 
to reduce foraging opportunities for mao as well as provide vectors for 
invasion by nonnative plants. In summary, the widespread disturbance 
caused by feral ungulates is likely to continue to negatively impact 
the habitat of the mao. Based on the above information, we conclude 
that habitat destruction and modification by feral ungulates is a 
threat to the mao.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Habitat Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Range
American Samoa
    The National Park of American Samoa (NPSA) was established to 
preserve and protect the tropical forest and archaeological and 
cultural resources, to maintain the habitat of flying foxes, to 
preserve the ecological balance of the Samoan tropical forest, and, 
consistent with the preservation of these resources, to provide for the 
enjoyment of the unique resources of the Samoan tropical forest by 
visitors from around the world (Public Law 100-571, Public Law 100-
336). Under a 50-year lease agreement between local villages, the 
American Samoa Government, and the Federal Government, approximately 
8,000 ac (3,240 ha) of forested habitat on the islands of Tutuila, Tau, 
and Ofu are protected and managed (NPSA Lease Agreement 1993).
    Several programs and partnerships to address the threat of 
nonnative plant species have been established and are ongoing in 
American Samoa. Since 2000, the NPSA has implemented an invasive plant 
management program that has focused on monitoring and removal of 
nonnative plant threats. The nonnative plant species prioritized for 
removal include the following: Adenanthera pavonina or lopa, Castilla 
elastica or pulu mamoe, Falcataria moluccana or tamaligi, Leucaena 
leucocephala or lusina, and Psidium cattleianum or strawberry guava 
(Togia 2015, in litt.). In particular, efforts have been focused on the 
removal of the tamiligi from within the boundaries of the NPSA as well 
as in adjacent areas (Hughes et al. 2012).
    The thrip Liothrips urichi is an insect that was introduced to 
American Samoa in the 1970s as a biocontrol for the weed Clidemia hirta 
(Tauiliili and Vargo 1993, p. 59). This thrip has been successful at 
controlling Clidemia on Tutuila. Though Clidemia is still common and 
widespread throughout Tutuila, thrips inhibit its growth and vigor, 
preventing it from achieving ecological dominance (Cook 2001, p. 143).
    In 2004, the American Samoa Invasive Species Team (ASIST) was 
established as an inter-agency team of nine local government and 
Federal agencies. The mission of ASIST is to reduce the rate of 
invasion and impact of invasive species in American Samoa with the 
goals of promoting education and awareness on invasive species and 
preventing, controlling, and eradicating invasive species. In 2010, the 
U.S. Forest Service conducted an invasive plant management workshop for 
Territorial and Federal agencies, and local partners (Nagle 2010 in 
litt.). More recently, the NPSA produced a field guide of 15 invasive 
plants that the park and its partners target for early detection and 
response (NPSA 2012, in litt.).
    In 1996, the NPSA initiated a feral pig control program that 
includes fencing and removal of pigs using snares in the Tutuila Island 
and Tau Island Units. Two fences have been constructed and several 
hundred pigs have been removed since 2007 (Togia 2015, in litt.). The 
program is ongoing and includes monitoring feral pig activity twice per 
year and additional removal actions as needed (Togia 2015, in litt.).
Samoa
    In 2006, the Government of Samoa developed a recovery plan for the 
mao. The recovery plan identifies goals of securing the mao, 
maintaining its existing populations on Upolu and Savaii, and 
reestablishing populations at former sites (MNRE 2006). The plan has 
eight objectives: (1) Manage key forest areas on Upolu and Savaii where 
significant populations of the mao remain; (2) carry out detailed 
surveys to identify the numbers of pairs and establish monitoring; (3) 
increase understanding of the breeding and

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feeding ecology; (4) establish populations on rat-free islands or new 
mainland sites (including feasibility of reintroduction to American 
Samoa); (5) evaluate development of a captive-management program; (6) 
develop a public awareness and education program; (7) develop 
partnerships to assist in the mao recovery; and (8) establish a 
threatened bird recovery group to oversee the implementation and review 
of this plan and other priority bird species. In 2012, a detailed study 
provided information on the mao's diet, habitat use, reproductive 
success, and survival; important life-history requirements that can be 
used to implement recovery efforts (Butler and Stirnemann 2013).
    The Mt. Vaea Ecological Restoration Project surveyed and mapped the 
presence of native bird and plant species and invasive plant species 
within lowland forest habitat of the 454-ac (183-ha) Mt. Vaea Scenic 
Reserve on Upolu, Samoa (Bonin 2008, pp. 2-5). The project was 
envisioned as the first demonstration project of invasive species 
management and forest restoration in Samoa. Phase I of the project 
resulted in the development of a restoration plan recommending removal 
of five priority invasive plant species and planting of native tree 
species (Bonin 2008, pp. viii, 24). Phase 2 of the project resulted in 
identifying techniques for treatment of two problematic rubber species 
(Castilla elastica or pulu mamoe and Funtumia elastica or pulu vao) and 
replanting areas with native tree species (Bonin 2010, pp. 20-21).
    The Two Samoas Environmental Collaboration Initiative brings 
together government agencies, nongovernmental organizations and 
institutions from American Samoa and Samoa and provides a platform for 
a single concerted effort to manage threats to environmental resources 
such as the management of fisheries, land-based sources of pollution, 
climate change, invasive species, and key or endangered species (MNRE 
2014, p. 67). In 2010, a Memorandum of Understanding establishing the 
collaborative effort between the two countries was signed by the two 
agencies responsible for conservation of species and their habitats, 
MNRE (Samoa) and DMWR (American Samoa). This initiative establishes a 
framework for efforts to recover the mao in American Samoa and Samoa.
Summary of Factor A
    In summary, based on the best available scientific and commercial 
information, we conclude that the destruction, modification, and 
curtailment of the mao's habitat and range are ongoing threats and 
these threats will continue into the future. The destruction and 
modification of habitat for the mao is caused by agriculture, logging, 
feral ungulates, and nonnative plant species, the impacts of all of 
which are exacerbated by hurricanes (see Factor E). The most serious 
threat identified has been the loss of forested habitat caused by 
forest clearing for agriculture, and logging. All of the above threats 
are ongoing and interact to exacerbate the negative impacts and 
increase the vulnerability of extinction of the mao.

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    In Samoa, there is anecdotal information suggesting that the mao 
has been shot by people who were afraid of their calls (MNRE 2006, p. 
8). In addition, one individual reported that mao are eaten, or were 
eaten in the past, but it seems more likely these birds were shot 
accidentally by hunters who were targeting pigeons (MNRE 2006, p. 8). 
The mao has been protected under regulations enacted by the Government 
of Samoa in 1993 and revised in 2004 (MNRE 2006, p. 8). The best 
available information does not indicate overutilization for commercial, 
recreation, scientific, or educational purposes in American Samoa. 
Based on the above information, we conclude that hunting of the mao is 
unintentional or accidental; therefore, we do not consider the 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes to be a threat to the mao.

C. Disease or Predation

Predation
    Nest predation by rats has negative impacts on many island birds, 
including the mao (Atkinson 1977, p. 129; 1985, pp. 55-70; Butler and 
Stirnemann 2013, p. 29; O'Donnell et al. 2015, pp. 24-26). Rats have 
been identified as the main cause of decline in the closely related 
Gymnomyza aubryana in New Caledonia (MNRE 2006, p. 8). Juveniles 
spending time on the forest floor are also at risk from predation by 
feral cats (Butler and Stirnemann 2013, p. 31). Other potential 
predators include the native barn owl (Tyto alba) and wattled 
honeyeater (Foulehaio carunculatus); however, adults can potentially 
drive these species away from the nest (Butler and Stirnemann 2013, p. 
31).
    Butler and Stirnemann (2013, p. 29) captured footage of one nest 
depredation event by a black rat, which took a mao egg. The rat gained 
access to the egg by jumping on the incubating female's back from the 
branch above, driving the female off the nest. Combined with the 
disappearance of two females during the breeding season, this footage 
suggests that adult females are potentially vulnerable to predation on 
the nest at night, while they are incubating (Butler and Stirnemann 
2013, p. 31), a phenomenon documented or suspected in other island bird 
species, which lack innate behavioral defenses against nonnative 
mammalian predators (see for example Robertson et al. 1994, p. 1,084; 
Armstrong et al. 2006, p. 1,034; VanderWerf 2009, p. 741). This 
potential bias toward predation of females has the potential to create 
a skewed sex ratio in mao populations (Robertson et al. pp. 1,083-
1,084).
    The location of mao nests affects their vulnerability to predation 
by rats; nests in close proximity to plantation habitats, where rats 
are most abundant, are particularly susceptible and experience low 
reproductive success (Butler and Stirnemann 2013, p. 31). Nests within 
50 meters of a plantation are 40 percent more likely to be depredated 
than nests in forested areas farther from plantations (Butler and 
Stirnemann 2013, p. 31). Because good-quality, closed-canopy forest 
habitat remains in American Samoa, factors in addition to deforestation 
are likely responsible for the extirpation of the mao from American 
Samoa (MNRE 2006, p. 8), including predation by rats (Stirnemann 2015, 
in litt.). Habitat loss from clearing of native forest combined with an 
expansion of plantations in Samoa may lead to an increase in rat 
populations (which find ample food in plantation habitats) and a 
potential for an increase in the mao nest predation rate. In addition, 
the mao's low reproductive rate (one juvenile per year) and extended 
breeding season increase the likelihood of population-level effects of 
predation (Butler and Stirnemann 2013, p. 22).
    Predation by feral cats has been directly responsible for the 
extinction of numerous birds on oceanic islands (Medina et al. 2011, p. 
6). Native mammalian carnivores are absent from oceanic islands because 
of their low dispersal ability, but once introduced by humans, they 
become significant predators on native animals such as seabirds and 
landbirds that are not adapted to predation by terrestrial carnivores 
(Nogales et al. 2013, p. 804; Scott et al. 1986, p. 363; Ainley et al. 
1997, p. 24; Hess and Banko 2006, in litt.). The considerable amount of 
time

[[Page 61586]]

spent on the ground (up to 7 days) and poor flight ability of mao 
chicks post-fledging increases the risk of predation by feral cats 
(Butler and Stirnemann 2013, p. 28). Evidence of feral cat presence 
exists in montane forests and along an elevational gradient on Savaii, 
including numerous scats (feces) containing rodent hairs and bird bones 
and feathers (Atherton and Jeffries 2012, pp. 76, 103), and predation 
by feral cats has been posited as a contributing factor in the mao's 
extirpation from Tutuila (Stirnemann 2015 in litt.). Based on the above 
information, we conclude that predation by rats and cats is a threat to 
the mao that is likely to continue in the future.
Disease
    Recent investigations suggest that avian malaria may be indigenous 
and non-pathogenic in American Samoa and, therefore, is unlikely to 
affect bird populations (Jarvi et al. 2003, p. 636; Seamon 2004a, in 
litt.). The best available information does not indicate there are 
other diseases affecting the mao populations in Samoa (MNRE 2006, p. 
8).
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Disease or Predation
    A project to restore habitat for the mao and other priority species 
by removing the threat of predation by the Polynesian rat (R. exulans) 
was attempted on the uninhabited islands of Nuutele (267 ac (108 ha)) 
and Nuulua (62 ac (25 ha)) off the eastern end of Upolu, Samoa (Tye 
2012, in litt). The demonstration project aimed to eradicate the 
Polynesian rat from both islands through aerial delivery of baits. 
Post-project monitoring detected rats on Nuutele, suggesting that rats 
survived the initial eradication effort or were able to recolonize the 
island (Tye 2012, in litt.).
Summary of Factor C
    In summary, based on the best available scientific and commercial 
information, we conclude that disease is not a current threat to the 
mao, nor is it likely to become a threat in the future. Because of its 
low reproductive rate (1 egg per clutch) and vulnerability to predation 
at multiple life-history stages (eggs, chicks, fledglings, and adults), 
we conclude that the threat of predation by rats and feral cats is an 
ongoing threat to the mao that will continue into the future.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The Act requires that the Secretary assess available regulatory 
mechanisms in order to determine whether existing regulatory mechanisms 
may be inadequate as designed to address threats to the species being 
evaluated (Factor D). Under this factor, we examine whether existing 
regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to address the potential threats 
to the mao discussed under other factors. In determining whether the 
inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms constitutes a threat to the mao, we 
analyzed the existing Federal, Territorial, and international laws and 
regulations that may address the threats to this species or contain 
relevant protective measures. Regulatory mechanisms, if they exist, may 
preclude the need for listing if we determine that such mechanisms 
adequately address the threats to the species such that listing is not 
warranted.
Samoa
    The Government of Samoa has enacted numerous laws and regulations 
and has signed on to various international agreements that address a 
wide range of activities such as land tenure and development, 
biodiversity, wildlife protection, forestry management, national parks, 
biosecurity, and the extraction of water resources (MNRE 2013, pp. 148-
149; MNRE 2014, p. 57).
    The Protection of Wildlife Regulations 2004 regulates the 
protection, conservation, and utilization of terrestrial or land-
dwelling species (MNRE and SPREP 2012, p. 5). These regulations 
prohibit, and establish penalties for committing, the following 
activities: (1) The take, keep, or kill of protected and partially 
protected animal species; (2) harm of flying species endemic to Samoa; 
and (3) the export of any bird from Samoa (MNRE and SPREP 2012, pp. 5-
6). The mao is endemic to the Samoan archipelago, but it is not listed 
as a ``flying species endemic to Samoa'' under these regulations.
    The Planning and Urban Management Act 2004 (PUMA) and PUMA 
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulation (2007) were enacted to 
ensure all development initiatives are properly evaluated for adverse 
environmental impacts (MNRE 2013, p. 93). The information required for 
Sustainable Management Plans and Environmental Impact Assessments does 
not include specific consideration for species or their habitat 
(Planning and Urban Management Act 2004, as amended). Other similar 
approval frameworks mandated under other legislation address specific 
threats and activities. These include the permit system under the Lands 
Surveys and Environment Act 1989 for sand mining and coastal 
reclamation, and ground water exploration and abstraction permits under 
the Water Resources Act 2008 (MNRE 2013, p. 93). The PUMA process has 
been gaining in acceptance and use, however, information on its 
effectiveness in preventing adverse impacts to species or their 
habitats is lacking (MNRE 2013, p. 93).
    The Forestry Management Act 2011 regulates the effective and 
sustainable management and utilization of forest resources. This law 
creates the requirement for a permit or license for commercial logging 
or harvesting of native, agro-forestry, or plantation forest resources 
(MNRE and SPREP 2012, p. 18). Permitted and licensed activities must 
follow approved Codes of Practice, forestry harvesting plans, and other 
requirements set by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. 
License or permit holders must also follow laws relating to national 
parks and reserves, and all provisions of management plans for any 
national park or reserve. Under this act, lands designated as protected 
areas for the purposes of the protection of biodiversity and endangered 
species prohibit any clearing for cultivation or removal of forest 
items from protected areas without prior consent of the MNRE (Forestry 
Management Act 2011, Para. 57). Although this law includes these 
general considerations for managing forest resources, it does not 
specifically provide protection to habitat for the mao.
    The Quarantine (Biosecurity) Act 2005 forms part of the system to 
combat the introduction of invasive species and manage existing 
invasions. It is the main legal instrument to manage the deliberate or 
accidental importation of invasive species, pests, and pathogens and 
also to deal with such species should they be found in Samoa (MNRE and 
SPREP 2012, p. 38). This legislation also provides a risk assessment 
procedure for imported animals, plants and living modified organisms. 
Although this law provides for management of invasive species, 
including those that degrade or destroy native forest habitat for the 
mao, we do not have information indicating the degree to which it has 
been implemented or effectiveness of such efforts.
    In Samoa, there are several regulatory and nonregulatory protected 
area systems currently in place that protect and manage terrestrial 
species and their habitats; these include national parks, nature 
reserves, conservation areas, and village agreements. The National 
Parks and Reserves Act (1974) created the

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statutory authority for the protection and management of national parks 
and nature reserves. Conservation areas, unlike national parks and 
nature reserves, emphasize the importance of conservation, but at the 
same time address the need for sustainable development activities 
within the conservation area. Village agreements are voluntary 
agreements or covenants developed and signed by local villages and 
conservation organizations that stipulate specific conservation 
measures or land use prohibitions in exchange for significant 
development aid. As of 2014, a total of approximately 58,176 ac (23,543 
ha), roughly 8 percent of the total land area of Samoa (285,000 ha) 
were enlisted in terrestrial protected areas, with the majority located 
in five national parks covering a total of 50,629 ac (20,489 ha) 
overlapping several key conservation areas identified for the mao (MNRE 
2006, p. 14; MNRE 2014, p. 57).
    Conservation International (CI) and the Secretariat of the Pacific 
Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in collaboration with the 
Ministry of Natural Resources Environment identified eight terrestrial 
Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) intended to ensure representative 
coverage of all native ecosystems with high biodiversity values, five 
of which are targeted to benefit the conservation of the mao (CI et al. 
2010, p. 12): Eastern Upolu Craters, Uafato-Tiavea Coastal Forest, O le 
Pupu Pue National Park, Apia Catchments, and Central Savaii Rainforest. 
All five KBAs also overlap with Important Bird Areas designated by 
BirdLife International (Schuster 2010, pp. 16-43). Currently, these 
five KBAs, which are nonregulatory, are under various degrees of 
protection and conservation management including national parks, 
Community Conservation Areas, and areas with no official protective 
status (CI et al. 2010, p. 12). Many of the KBAs and protected areas 
mentioned above are still faced with increasing pressures in large part 
due to difficulties of their location on customary lands (traditional 
village system) and the ongoing threats of development, invasive 
species, and logging (MNRE 2009, p. 1; CI et al. 2010, p. 12). The 
decline of closed forest habitat has been a result of logging on Savaii 
and agricultural clearing on the edges of National Parks and Reserves 
(MNRE 2006, p. 5).
    In 2006, the Government of Samoa developed a recovery plan for the 
mao. The recovery plan identifies goals of securing the mao, 
maintaining its existing populations on Upolu and Savaii, and 
reestablishing populations at former sites (MNRE 2006). This plan is 
nonregulatory in nature.
    In summary, existing regulatory mechanisms have the potential to 
address the threat of habitat destruction and degradation to the mao in 
Samoa. However, these policies and legislation may not provide the 
protection necessary for the conservation of the mao in Samoa.
American Samoa
    In American Samoa no existing Federal laws, treaties, or 
regulations specify protection of the mao's habitat from the threat of 
deforestation, or address the threat of predation by nonnative mammals 
such as rats and feral cats. However, some existing Territorial laws 
and regulations have the potential to afford the species some 
protection but their implementation does not achieve that result. The 
DMWR is given statutory authority to ``manage, protect, preserve, and 
perpetuate marine and wildlife resources'' and to promulgate rules and 
regulations to that end (American Samoa Code Annotated (ASCA), title 
24, chapter 3). This agency conducts monitoring surveys, conservation 
activities, and community outreach and education about conservation 
concerns. However, to our knowledge, the DMWR has not used this 
authority to undertake conservation efforts for the mao such as habitat 
protection and control of nonnative predators such as rats and cats 
(DMWR 2006, pp. 79-80).
    The Territorial Endangered Species Act provides for appointment of 
a Commission with the authority to nominate species as either 
endangered or threatened (ASCA, title 24, chapter 7). Regulations 
adopted under the Coastal Management Act (ASCA Sec.  24.0501 et seq.) 
also prohibit the taking of threatened or endangered species (ASAC 
Sec.  26.0220.I.c). However, the ASG has not listed the mao as 
threatened or endangered so these regulatory mechanisms do not provide 
protection for this species.
    Under ASCA, title 24, chapter 08 (Noxious Weeds), the Territorial 
DOA has the authority to ban, confiscate, and destroy species of plants 
harmful to the agricultural economy. Similarly, under ASCA, title 24, 
chapter 06 (Quarantine), the director of DOA has the authority to 
promulgate agriculture quarantine restrictions concerning animals. 
These laws may provide some protection against the introduction of new 
nonnative species that may have negative effects on the mao's habitat 
or become predators of the mao, but these regulations do not require 
any measures to control invasive nonnative plants or animals that 
already are established and proving harmful to native species and their 
habitats (DMWR 2006, p. 80) (see Factor D for the Pacific sheath-tailed 
bat, above).
    As described above, the Territorial Coastal Management Act 
establishes a land use permit (LUP) system for development projects and 
a Project Notification Review System (PNRS) for multi-agency review and 
approval of LUP applications (ASAC Sec.  26.0206). The standards and 
criteria for review of LUP applications include requirements to protect 
Special Management Areas (SMA), Unique Areas, and ``critical habitats'' 
(ASCA Sec.  24.0501 et. seq.). To date, the SMAs that have been 
designated (Pago Pago Harbor, Leone Pala, and Nuuuli Pala; ASAC Sec.  
26.0221), do not provide habitat for the mao. The only Unique Area 
designated to date, the Ottoville Rainforest (American Samoa Coastal 
Management Program 2011, p. 52), hypothetically may provide some 
foraging habitat for the mao, but it is a small (20-ac (8-ha)) island 
of native forest in the middle of the heavily developed Tafuna Plain 
(Trail 1993, pp. 1, 4), far from large areas of native forest. These 
laws and regulations are designed to ensure that ``environmental 
concerns are given appropriate consideration,'' and include provisions 
and requirements that could address to some degree threats to native 
forest habitat required by the mao, even though individual species are 
not named (ASAC Sec.  26.0202 et seq.). Because the implementation of 
these regulations has been minimal and review of permits is not 
rigorous, issuance of permits may not provide the habitat protection 
necessary to provide for the conservation of the mao and instead result 
in loss of native forest habitat important to the mao and other species 
as a result of land clearing for agriculture and development (DMWR 
2006, p. 71). We conclude that the implementation of the Coastal 
Management Act and its PNRS is inadequate to address the threat of 
habitat destruction and degradation to the mao (see Factor D for the 
Pacific sheath-tailed bat for further details).
Summary of Factor D
    In summary, existing Territorial laws and regulatory mechanisms 
have the potential to offer some level of protection for the mao and 
its habitat if it were to be reintroduced to American Samoa but are not 
currently implemented in a manner that would do so. The DMWR has not 
exercised its statutory authority to address threats to the mao such as 
predation by nonnative predators, the mao is not listed pursuant

[[Page 61588]]

to the Territorial Endangered Species Act, and the Coastal Management 
Act and its implementing regulations have the potential to address the 
threat of habitat loss to deforestation more substantively, but this 
law is inadequately implemented.
    Based on the best available information, no existing Federal 
regulatory mechanisms address the threats to the mao. Some existing 
regulatory mechanisms in Samoa and American Samoa have the potential to 
offer some protection of the mao and its habitat, but their 
implementation does not reduce or remove threats to the species such as 
habitat destruction or modification or predation by nonnative species. 
For these reasons, we conclude that existing regulatory mechanisms do 
not address the threats to the mao.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

Hurricanes
    Hurricanes are a common natural disturbance in the tropical Pacific 
and have occurred in the Samoan archipelago with varying frequency and 
intensity (see Factor E discussion for the Pacific sheath-tailed bat). 
Catastrophic events such as hurricanes can be a major threat to the 
persistence of species already experiencing population-level impacts of 
other stressors (MNRE 2006, p. 8). Two storms in the 1990s, Cyclones 
Ofa (1990) and Val (1991), severely damaged much of the remaining 
forested habitat in Samoa, reducing forest canopy cover by 73 percent 
(MNRE 2006, pp. 5, 7). In addition, Cyclone Evan struck Samoa in 2012 
causing severe and widespread forest damage, including defoliation and 
downed trees in 80 to 90 percent of the Reserves and National Parks on 
Upolu (Butler and Stirnemann 2013, p. 41). Secondary forests also were 
severely damaged by the storm, and most trees in the known mao 
locations were stripped of their leaves, fruits, and flowers (Butler 
and Stirnemann 2013, p. 41). Hurricanes thus exacerbate forest 
fragmentation and invasion of native forests by nonnative species, 
stressors that reduce breeding, nesting, and foraging habitat for the 
mao (see Factor A, above). Although severe storms are a natural 
disturbance with which the mao has coexisted for millennia, such storms 
exacerbate the threats to its remaining small, isolated populations by 
at least temporarily damaging or redistributing habitat and food 
resources for the birds and causing direct mortality of individuals 
(Wiley and Wunderle 1993, pp. 340-341; Wunderle and Wiley 1996, p. 
261). If the mao was widely distributed, had ample habitat and 
sufficient numbers, and were not under chronic pressure from 
anthropogenic threats such as introduced predators, it might recover 
from hurricane-related mortality and the temporary loss or 
redistribution of resources in the wake of severe storms. However, this 
species' current status makes it highly vulnerable to catastrophic 
chance events, such as hurricanes, which occur frequently throughout 
its range in Samoa and American Samoa.
Low Numbers of Individuals and Populations
    Species with low numbers of individuals, restricted distributions, 
and small, isolated populations are often more susceptible to 
extinction as a result of natural catastrophes such as hurricanes or 
disease outbreaks, demographic fluctuations, or inbreeding depression 
(Shaffer 1981, p. 131; see Factor E discussion for the Pacific sheath-
tailed bat, above). These problems associated with small population 
size are further magnified by interactions with each other and with 
other threats, such as habitat loss and predation (Lacy 2000, pp. 45-
47; see Factor A and Factor C, above).
    We consider the mao to be vulnerable to extinction because of 
threats associated with its low number of individuals--perhaps not more 
than a few hundred birds--and low numbers of populations. These threats 
include environmental catastrophes, such as hurricanes, which could 
immediately extinguish some or all of the remaining populations; 
demographic stochasticity that could leave the species without 
sufficient males or females to be viable; and inbreeding depression or 
loss of adaptive potential that can be associated with loss of genetic 
diversity and result in eventual extinction (Shaffer 1981, p. 131; Lacy 
2000, pp. 40, 44-46). Combined with ongoing habitat destruction and 
modification by logging, agriculture, development, nonnative plant 
species, and feral ungulates (Factor A) and predation by rats and feral 
cats (Factor C), the effects of these threats to small populations 
further increases the risk of extinction of the mao.
Climate Change
    Our analyses under the Act include consideration of ongoing and 
projected changes in climate (see Factor E discussion for the Pacific 
sheath-tailed bat). The magnitude and intensity of the impacts of 
global climate change and increasing temperatures on western tropical 
Pacific island ecosystems currently are unknown. In addition, there are 
no climate change studies that address impacts to the specific habitats 
of the mao. The scientific assessment completed by the Pacific Science 
Climate Science Program provides general projections or trends for 
predicted changes in climate and associated changes in ambient 
temperature, precipitation, hurricanes, and sea level rise for 
countries in the western tropical Pacific region including Samoa (used 
also as a proxy for American Samoa) (Australian BOM and CSIRO 2011, 
Vol. 1 & Vol. 2; see Factor E discussion for the Pacific sheath-tailed 
bat for summary).
    Although we do not have specific information on the impacts of the 
effects of climate change to the mao, increased ambient temperature and 
precipitation, and increased severity of hurricanes, would likely 
exacerbate other threats to this species as well as provide additional 
stresses on its habitat. The probability of species extinction as a 
result of climate change impacts increases when its range is 
restricted, habitat decreases, and numbers of populations decline (IPCC 
2007, p. 48). The mao is limited by its restricted range and low 
numbers of individuals. Therefore, we expect this species to be 
particularly vulnerable to the environmental effects of climate change 
and subsequent impacts to its habitat, even though the specific and 
cumulative effects of climate change on the mao are presently unknown 
and we are not able to determine the magnitude of this future threat 
with confidence. Based on the above information, we conclude that 
habitat impacts resulting from the effects of climate change are not a 
current threat but are likely to become a threat to the mao in the 
future.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Other Natural or Manmade Factors 
Affecting Its Continued Existence
    We are unaware of any conservation actions planned or implemented 
at this time to abate the threats of hurricanes and low numbers of 
individuals that negatively impact the mao. However, the completion of 
a recovery plan, basic research on the mao's life-history requirements, 
population monitoring, and cooperation between the governments of 
American Samoa and Samoa contribute to the conservation of the mao.
Proposed Determination for the Mao
    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to mao. This large honeyeater endemic to the Samoan archipelago is 
vulnerable to extinction

[[Page 61589]]

because of the loss and degradation of its forested habitat, predation 
by nonnative mammals, and the impact of stochastic events to species 
that are reduced to small population size and limited distribution.
    The threat of habitat destruction and modification from 
agriculture, logging, and development, nonnative plants, and nonnative 
ungulates is occurring throughout the range of the mao, and is not 
likely to be reduced in the future (Factor A). The threat of predation 
from nonnative predators such as rats and feral cats is ongoing and 
likely to continue in the future (Factor C). Existing regulatory 
mechanisms do not address the threats to this species (Factor D). 
Additionally, the low numbers of individuals and populations of the mao 
render the species vulnerable to environmental catastrophes such as 
hurricanes, demographic stochasticity, and inbreeding depression 
(Factor E). These factors pose threats to the mao whether we consider 
their effects individually or cumulatively. All of these threats are 
likely to continue in the future.
    The Act defines an endangered species as any species that is ``in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range'' and a threatened species as any species ``that is likely to 
become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range 
within the foreseeable future.'' We find that the mao is presently in 
danger of extinction throughout its entire range based on the severity 
and immediacy of threats currently impacting the species.
    Therefore, on the basis of the best available scientific and 
commercial information, we propose listing mao as endangered in 
accordance with sections 3(6) and 4(a)(1) of the Act. We find that the 
mao is presently in danger of extinction throughout its entire range 
based on the severity and immediacy of the ongoing and projected 
threats described above. The loss and degradation of its forested 
habitat, predation by nonnative mammals, limited distribution, the 
effects of small population size, and stochastic events such as 
hurricanes render this species in its entirety highly susceptible to 
extinction as a consequence of these imminent threats; the species' low 
reproductive rate reduces its ability to recover from impacts of 
multiple threats and their cumulative effects.
    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may 
warrant listing if it is in danger of extinction or likely to become so 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Because we have 
determined that the mao is endangered throughout all of its range, no 
portion of its range can be ``significant'' for purposes of the 
definitions of ``endangered species'' and ``threatened species.'' See 
the Final Policy on Interpretation of the Phrase ``Significant Portion 
of Its Range'' in the Endangered Species Act's Definitions of 
``Endangered Species'' and ``Threatened Species'' (79 FR 37577, July 1, 
2014).
American Samoa Population of the Friendly Ground-Dove, Gallicolumba 
stairi, Tuaimeo
    The genus Gallicolumba is distributed throughout the Pacific and 
Southeast Asia and is represented in the oceanic Pacific by six 
species. Three species are endemic to Micronesian islands or 
archipelagos, two are endemic to island groups in French Polynesia, and 
Gallicolumba stairi is endemic to Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji (Sibley and 
Monroe 1990, p. 206). The species name used here, the friendly ground-
dove, was derived from ``Friendly Islands'' (i.e., Tonga), where it is 
purported to have been first collected (Watling 2001, p. 118). Because 
of its shy and secretive habits, this species is also often referred to 
as the shy ground-dove (Pratt et al. 1997, pp. 194-195). Some authors 
recognize two subspecies of the friendly ground-dove: One, slightly 
smaller, in the Samoan archipelago (G. s. stairi), and the other in 
Tonga and Fiji (G. s. vitiensis) (Mayr 1945, pp. 131-132). However, 
morphological differences between the two are slight (Watling 2001, p. 
117), and no genetic or other studies have validated the existence of 
separate subspecies.
    We accept the current taxonomic treatment of the friendly ground-
dove as Gallicolumba stairi as described in the IOC World Bird List 
Version 5.1 compiled by the International Ornithologists Union 
Committee on Nomenclature (Gill and Donsker 2015) and ITIS (2015b). 
However, recent molecular analyses suggest that the species ascribed to 
Gallicolumba are not monophyletic, and recommend reinstalling the name 
Alopecoenas for some Gallicolumba species, including G. stairi, thus 
including it in a monophyletic radiation of ten species distributed in 
New Guinea, the Lesser Sundas, and Oceania (Jonsson et al. 2011, pp. 
541-542; Moyle et al. 2013, pp. 1,064-1,065). This recommendation also 
parallels the natural divide based on plumage patterns of birds 
distributed on either side of New Guinea: The ``bleeding hearts'' with 
a red-orange breast patch, which occur in the Philippines and are 
recommended to remain in Gallicolumba, and the other ground-doves with 
a white or gray breast and head, which occur on Pacific Islands and New 
Guinea and are recommended for placement in Alopecoenas (Jonsson et al. 
2011, p. 538). Nevertheless, at this time, there is lack of consensus 
for the generic change from Gallicolumba to Alopecoenas, as well as the 
lack of evidence for validation of a subspecies, G. s.stairi, 
restricted to the Samoan archipelago. Therefore, we are evaluating the 
status of G. stairi in this proposed rule.
    The friendly ground-dove is a medium-sized dove, approximately 10 
in (26 cm) long. Males have rufous-brown upperparts with a bronze-green 
iridescence, the crown and nape are grey, the wings rufous with a 
purplish luster, and the tail is dark brown. The abdomen and belly are 
dark brown-olive, while the breast shield is dark pink with a white 
border. Immature birds are similar to adults but are uniformly brown. 
Females are dimorphic in Fiji and Tonga, where a brown phase (tawny 
underparts and no breast shield) and pale phase (similar to males but 
duller) occur. In Samoa and American Samoa, only the pale phase is 
known to occur (Watling 2001, p. 117).
    In American Samoa, the friendly ground-dove is typically found on 
or near steep, forested slopes, particularly those with an open 
understory and fine scree or exposed soil (Tulafono 2006, in litt.). 
Elsewhere the species is known to inhabit brushy vegetation or native 
forest on offshore islands, native limestone forest (Tonga), and forest 
habitats on large, high islands (Steadman and Freifeld 1998, p. 617; 
Clunie 1999, pp. 42-43; Freifeld et al. 2001, p. 79; Watling 2001, p. 
118). This bird spends most of its time on the ground, and feeds on 
seeds, fruit, buds, snails, and insects (Clunie 1999, p. 42; Craig 
2009, p. 125). The friendly ground-dove typically builds a nest of 
twigs several feet from the ground or in a tree fern crown, and lays 
one or two white eggs (Clunie 1999, p. 43).
    The friendly ground-dove is uncommon or rare throughout its range 
in Fiji, Tonga, Wallis and Futuna, Samoa, and American Samoa (Steadman 
and Freifeld 1998, p. 626; Schuster et al. 1999, pp. 13, 70; Freifeld 
et al. 2001, pp. 78-79; Watling 2001, p. 118; Steadman 1997, pp. 745, 
747), except for on some small islands in Fiji (Watling 2001, p. 118). 
The status of the species as a whole is not monitored closely 
throughout its range, but based on available information, the friendly 
ground-dove persists in very small numbers in Samoa (Schuster et al. 
1999, pp. 13, 70; Freifeld et al. 2001, pp. 78-79), and is considered 
to be among the most endangered of native Samoan bird

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species (Watling 2001, p. 118). In Tonga, the species occurs primarily 
on small, uninhabited islands and in one small area of a larger island 
(Steadman and Freifeld 1998, pp. 617-618; Watling 2001, p. 118). In 
Fiji, the friendly ground-dove is thought to be widely distributed but 
uncommon on large islands and relatively common on some small islands 
(Watling 2001, p. 118).
    In American Samoa, the species was first reported on Ofu in 1976 
(Amerson et al. 1982, p. 69), and has been recorded infrequently on Ofu 
and more commonly on Olosega since the mid-1990s (Amerson et al. 1982, 
p. 69; Seamon 2004a, in litt.; Tulafono 2006, in litt.). Amerson et al. 
(1982, p. 69) estimate a total population of about 100 birds on Ofu and 
possibly Olosega. Engbring and Ramsey (1989, p. 57) described the 
population on Ofu as ``very small,'' but did not attempt a population 
estimate. More than 10 ground-doves were caught on Olosega between 2001 
and 2004, suggesting that numbers there are greater than on Ofu, but 
birds may move between the two islands (Seamon 2004a, in litt.), which 
once were a single land mass and are today connected by a causeway that 
is roughly 490 feet (ft) (150 meters (m)) long. No current population 
estimate is available; the secretive habits of this species make 
monitoring difficult. Monitoring surveys over the last 10 years do not, 
however, suggest any change in the relative abundance of the friendly 
ground-dove (Seamon 2004a, in litt.). The DMWR biologists regularly 
observe this species at several locations on Ofu and Olosega (DMWR 
2013, in litt.), and have initiated a project to color band the 
population in order to better describe their distribution and status on 
the two islands (Miles 2015b, in litt.).

Distinct Population Segment (DPS) Analysis

    Under the Act, we have the authority to consider for listing any 
species, subspecies, or for vertebrates, any distinct population 
segment (DPS) of these taxa if there is sufficient information to 
indicate that such action may be warranted. To guide the implementation 
of the DPS provisions of the Act, we and the National Marine Fisheries 
Service (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration--Fisheries), 
published the Policy Regarding the Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate 
Population Segments Under the Endangered Species Act (DPS Policy) in 
the Federal Register on February 7, 1996 (61 FR 4722). Under our DPS 
Policy, we use two elements to assess whether a population segment 
under consideration for listing may be recognized as a DPS: (1) The 
population segment's discreteness from the remainder of the species to 
which it belongs and (2) the significance of the population segment to 
the species to which it belongs. If we determine that a population 
segment being considered for listing is a DPS, then the population 
segment's conservation status is evaluated based on the five listing 
factors established by the Act to determine if listing it as either 
endangered or threatened is warranted. Below, we evaluate the American 
Samoa population of the friendly ground-dove to determine whether it 
meets the definition of a DPS under our Policy.

Discreteness

    Under our DPS Policy, a population segment of a vertebrate taxon 
may be considered discrete if it satisfies either one of the following 
conditions: (1) It is markedly separated from other populations of the 
same taxon as a consequence of physical, physiological, ecological, or 
behavioral factors. Quantitative measures of genetic or morphological 
discontinuity may provide evidence of this separation; (2) It is 
delimited by international governmental boundaries within which 
differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, 
conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are 
significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Act.
    The American Samoa population of the friendly ground-dove, a 
cryptic, understory-dwelling dove not noted for long-distance 
dispersal, is markedly separate from other populations of the species. 
The genus Gallicolumba is widely distributed in the Pacific, but 
populations of the friendly ground-dove are restricted to a subset of 
islands (often small, offshore islets) in any archipelago where they 
occur, or even to limited areas of single islands in Polynesia 
(Steadman and Freifeld 1998, pp. 617-618; Freifeld et al. 2001, p. 79; 
Watling 2001, p. 118). Unlike other Pacific Island columbids, this 
species does not fly high above the canopy; it is an understory species 
that forages largely on the ground and nests near the ground (Watling 
2001, p. 118). Furthermore, members of the genus that are restricted to 
individual archipelagos, single islands, or offshore islets, are 
presumed to be relatively sedentary, weak, or reluctant fliers, with 
inter-island flights rarely observed (Baptista et al. 1997, pp. 95, 
179-187, Freifeld et al. 2001, p. 79). Therefore, there is a low 
likelihood of frequent dispersal or immigration over the large 
distances that separate the American Samoa population on Ofu and 
Olosega islands from the other populations in Samoa (118 miles mi (190 
km)), Tonga (430 mi (690 km)), and Fiji (more than 625 mi (1,000 km)). 
In addition, the American Samoan island of Tutuila lies between the 
American Samoa population and the nearest population in Samoa, and no 
Tutuila records of the friendly ground-dove exist. For these reasons, 
it is likely that populations of the friendly ground-dove, which occur 
in three archipelagos, are ecologically isolated from each other (i.e., 
the likelihood is low that a population decimated or lost would be 
rebuilt by immigration from another population), although some level of 
exchange on an evolutionary timescale likely occurs.
    Based on the our review of the available information, we have 
determined that the American Samoa population of the friendly ground-
dove is markedly separate from other populations of the species due to 
geographic (physical) isolation from friendly ground-dove populations 
in Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji (Fig. 1). The geographic distance between the 
American Samoa population and other populations coupled with the low 
likelihood of frequent long-distance exchange between populations 
further separate the American Samoa population from other populations 
of this species throughout its range. Therefore, we have determined 
that the American Samoa population of friendly ground-dove meets a 
condition of our DPS policy for discreteness.

Significance

    Under our DPS Policy, once we have determined that a population 
segment is discrete, we consider its biological and ecological 
significance to the larger taxon to which it belongs. This 
consideration may include, but is not limited to: (1) Evidence of the 
persistence of the discrete population segment in an ecological setting 
that is unusual or unique for the taxon, (2) evidence that loss of the 
population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of 
the taxon, (3) evidence that the population segment represents the only 
surviving natural occurrence of a taxon that may be more abundant 
elsewhere as an introduced population outside its historical range, or 
(4) evidence that the discrete population segment differs markedly from 
other populations of the species in its genetic characteristics. One of 
these criteria is met. We have found substantial evidence that loss of 
the American Samoa population of the friendly ground-dove would 
constitute a

[[Page 61591]]

significant gap in the range of this species, and thus this population 
meets our criteria for significance under our Policy.
    The American Samoa population of the friendly ground-dove 
represents the easternmost distribution of this species. The loss of 
this population would truncate the species' range by approximately 100 
mi (161 km), or approximately 15 percent of the linear extent of its 
range, which trends southwest-to-northeast from Fiji to Tonga to Wallis 
and Futuna, Samoa, and American Samoa. Unlike other Pacific Island 
columbids, this species does not fly high above the canopy; it is an 
understory species that forages largely on the ground and nests near 
the ground (Watling 2001, p. 118). Because of its flight limitations, 
the friendly ground-dove is unlikely to disperse over the long 
distances between American Samoa and the nearest surrounding 
populations. Therefore, the loss of the American Samoa population 
coupled with the low likelihood of recolonization from the nearest 
source populations in Samoa, Fiji, and Tonga, would create a 
significant gap in the range of the friendly ground-dove.

Summary of DPS Analysis Regarding the American Samoa Population of the 
Friendly Ground-Dove

    Given that both the discreteness and the significance elements of 
the DPS policy are met for the American Samoa population of the 
friendly ground-dove, we find that the American Samoa population of the 
friendly ground-dove is a valid DPS. Therefore, the American Samoa DPS 
of friendly ground-dove is a listable entity under the Act, and we now 
assess this DPS's conservation status in relation to the Act's 
standards for listing, (i.e., whether this DPS meets the definition of 
an endangered or threatened species under the Act).
BILLING CODE 4333-15-C
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP13OC15.007


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Summary of Factors Affecting the American Samoa DPS of the Friendly 
Ground-Dove

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

Habitat Destruction and Modification by Agriculture and Development
    The loss or modification of lowland and coastal forests has been 
implicated as a limiting factor for populations of the friendly ground-
dove and has likely pushed this species into more disturbed areas or 
forested habitat at higher elevations (Watling 2001, p. 118). Several 
thousand years of subsistence agriculture and more recent, larger-scale 
agriculture has resulted in the alteration and great reduction in area 
of forests at lower elevations in American Samoa (see Factor A 
discussion for the mao). On Ofu, the coastal forest where the ground-
dove has been recorded, and which may be the preferred habitat for this 
species range-wide (Watling 2001, p. 118), largely has been converted 
to villages, grasslands, or coconut plantations (Whistler 1994, p. 
127). However, none of the land-clearing or development projects 
proposed for Ofu or Olosega in recent years has been approved or 
initiated in areas known to be frequented by friendly ground-doves 
(Tulafono 2006, in litt.; Stein et al. 2014, p. 25). Based on the above 
information, we find that agriculture and development have caused 
substantial destruction and modification of the habitat of the friendly 
ground-dove in American Samoa, potentially resulting in the curtailment 
of its range in American Samoa. Habitat destruction and modification by 
agriculture is expected to continue into the future, but probably at a 
low rate; the human population on Ofu and Olosega has been declining 
over recent decades and was estimated at 176 (Ofu) and 177 (Olosega) in 
2010 (American Samoa Government 2013, p. 8). However, because any 
further loss of habitat to land-clearing will further isolate the 
remaining populations of this species in American Samoa, we conclude 
that habitat destruction and modification by agriculture is a current 
threat to the American Samoa DPS of the friendly ground-dove that will 
continue in the future.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Habitat Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Range
    The National Park of American Samoa (NPSA) was established to 
preserve and protect the tropical forest and archaeological and 
cultural resources, to maintain the habitat of flying foxes, to 
preserve the ecological balance of the Samoan tropical forest, and, 
consistent with the preservation of these resources, to provide for the 
enjoyment of the unique resources of the Samoan tropical forest by 
visitors from around the world (Public Law 100-571, Public Law 100-
336). Under a 50-year lease agreement between local villages, the 
American Samoa Government, and the Federal Government, approximately 73 
ac (30 ha) on Ofu Island are located within park boundaries (NPSA Lease 
Agreement 1993). While the majority of the park's land area on Ofu 
consists of coastal and beach habitat, approximately 30 ac (12 ha) in 
the vicinity of Sunuitao Peak may provide forested habitat for the 
friendly ground-dove.
Summary of Factor A
    Past clearing for agriculture and development has resulted in the 
significant destruction and modification of coastal forest habitat for 
the American Samoa DPS of the friendly ground-dove. Land-clearing for 
agriculture is expected to continue in the future, but likely at a low 
rate. However, the degraded and fragmented status of the remaining 
habitat for the ground-dove is likely to be exacerbated by hurricanes. 
Therefore, we consider habitat destruction and modification to be a 
threat to this DPS.

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    Pigeon-catching was a traditional practice in ancient Samoan 
society (Craig 2009, p. 104). Hunting of terrestrial birds and bats in 
American Samoa primarily for subsistence purposes continued until the 
documented decline of wildlife populations led to the enactment of a 
hunting ban and formal hunting regulations (Craig et al. 1994, pp. 345-
346). The bird species most commonly taken were the Pacific pigeon or 
lupe (Ducula ducula) and the purple-capped fruit-dove or manutagi 
(Ptilinopus porphyraceus). Although the many-colored fruit dove or 
manuma (Ptilinopus perousii) is too rare to be sought by hunters, a few 
may have been killed each year by hunters in search of the Pacific 
pigeon or purple-capped fruit-dove (Craig 2009, p. 106). The incidental 
shooting of the friendly ground-dove by hunters in pursuit of other 
bird species (during a sanctioned hunting season; see Factor D) has the 
potential to occur. Poaching is not considered a threat to the friendly 
ground-dove in American Samoa (Seamon 2004a, in litt.; 2004b, in 
litt.). In addition, the use of firearms on the islands of Ofu and 
Olosega has rarely, if ever, been observed (Caruso 2015a, in litt.). In 
summary, based on the best available scientific and commercial 
information, we do not consider overutilization for commercial, 
recreational, scientific, or educational purposes to be a threat to the 
American Samoa DPS of the friendly ground-dove.

C. Disease or Predation

Disease
    Research suggests that avian malaria may be indigenous and non-
pathogenic in American Samoa, and, therefore, is unlikely to limit 
populations of the friendly ground-dove (Jarvi et al. 2003, p. 636; 
Seamon 2004a, in litt.). Although other blood parasites are common in 
many bird species in American Samoa, none have been reported to date in 
friendly ground-dove samples (Atkinson et al. 2006, p. 232). The best 
available information does not show there are other avian diseases that 
may be affecting this species.
Predation
    Depredation by introduced mammalian predators is the likely cause 
of widespread extirpation of the friendly ground-dove throughout 
portions of its range (Steadman and Freifeld 1998, p. 617; Watling 
2001, p. 118). Three species of rats occur in American Samoa and are 
likely to be present on the islands of Ofu and Olosega: the Polynesian 
rat, Norway rat, and black rat (Atkinson 1985, p. 38; DMWR 2006, p. 22; 
Caruso 2015b, in litt.). Domestic cats are widespread on Ofu and have 
been observed in the proximity of areas where friendly ground-doves 
have been detected (Arcilla 2015, in litt.). Feral cats are likely to 
occur on Olosega because of its physical connection to Ofu.
    Predation by rats is well known to have caused population decline 
and extirpation in many island bird species (Atkinson 1977, p. 129; 
1985, pp. 55-70; O'Donnell et al. 2015, pp. 24-26), especially species 
that nest on or near the ground or in burrows (Bertram and Nagorsen 
1995, pp. 6-10; Flint 1999, p. 200; Carlile et al. 2003, p. 186). For 
example, black rats were responsible for the near extirpation of the 
burrow-nesting Galapagos petrel on Floreana Island (Cruz and Cruz 1987, 
pp. 3-13), and for the extinction of the ground-nesting Laysan rail 
(Porzana palmeri), which had been translocated to Midway Atoll prior to 
the loss of the Laysan population (Fisher and Baldwin 1946, p. 8). The 
best available information is not specific to rat predation on the

[[Page 61593]]

American Samoa DPS of the friendly ground-dove, but the pervasive 
presence of rats throughout American Samoa makes it is likely that they 
play a role in limiting populations of this species.
    Predation by cats has been directly responsible for the extinction 
of numerous birds on oceanic islands (Medina et al. 2011, p. 6). Native 
mammalian carnivores are absent from oceanic islands because of their 
low dispersal ability, but once introduced by humans, they become 
significant predators on native animals such as seabirds and landbirds 
that are not adapted to predation by terrestrial carnivores (Nogales et 
al. 2013, p. 804; Scott et al. 1986, p. 363; Ainley et al. 1997, p. 24; 
Hess and Banko 2006, in litt.). Domestic cats have been observed in 
remote areas known to be frequented by ground-doves and may prey on 
friendly ground-doves and other species that nest on or near the ground 
(Arcilla 2015, in litt.). Therefore, the threat of predation by feral 
cats could potentially have a significant influence on this species, 
particularly given that the American Samoa DPS of the friendly ground-
dove population appears to be very small and limited to small areas on 
the islands of Ofu and Olosega.
    In summary, based on the best available scientific and commercial 
information, we conclude that disease is not a factor in the continued 
existence of the friendly ground-dove. Because island birds such as the 
friendly ground-dove are extremely vulnerable to predation by nonnative 
predators, the threat of predation by rats and feral cats is likely to 
continue and is considered a threat to the continued existence of this 
DPS.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The Act requires that the Secretary assess available regulatory 
mechanisms in order to determine whether existing regulatory mechanisms 
may be inadequate as designed to address threats to the species being 
evaluated (Factor D). Under this factor, we examine whether existing 
regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to address the potential threats 
to the American Samoa DPS of the friendly ground-dove discussed under 
other factors. In determining whether the inadequacy of regulatory 
mechanisms constitutes a threat to the friendly ground-dove, we 
analyzed the existing Federal and Territorial laws and regulations that 
may address the threats to this species or contain relevant protective 
measures. Regulatory mechanisms, if they exist, may preclude the need 
for listing if we determine that such mechanisms adequately address the 
threats to the species such that listing is not warranted.
    In American Samoa no existing Federal laws, treaties, or 
regulations specify protection of the friendly ground-dove's habitat 
from the threat of deforestation, or address the threat of predation by 
nonnative mammals such as rats and feral cats. However, some existing 
Territorial laws and regulations have the potential to afford the 
species some protection but their implementation does not achieve that 
result. The DMWR is given statutory authority to ``manage, protect, 
preserve, and perpetuate marine and wildlife resources'' and to 
promulgate rules and regulations to that end (American Samoa Code 
Annotated (ASCA), title 24, chapter 3). This agency conducts monitoring 
surveys, conservation activities, and community outreach and education 
about conservation concerns. However, to our knowledge, the DMWR has 
not used this authority to undertake conservation efforts for the 
friendly ground-dove such as habitat protection and control of 
nonnative predators such as rats and cats (DMWR 2006, pp. 79-80).
    The Territorial Endangered Species Act provides for appointment of 
a Commission with the authority to nominate species as either 
endangered or threatened (ASCA, title 24, chapter 7). Regulations 
adopted under the Coastal Management Act (ASCA Sec.  24.0501 et seq.) 
also prohibit the taking of threatened or endangered species (ASAC 
Sec.  26.0220.I.c). However, the ASG has not listed the friendly 
ground-dove as threatened or endangered so these regulatory mechanisms 
do not provide protection for this species.
    Under ASCA, title 24, chapter 08 (Noxious Weeds), the Territorial 
DOA has the authority to ban, confiscate, and destroy species of plants 
harmful to the agricultural economy. Similarly, under ASCA, title 24, 
chapter 06 (Quarantine), the director of DOA has the authority to 
promulgate agriculture quarantine restrictions concerning animals. 
These laws may provide some protection against the introduction of new 
nonnative species that may have negative effects on the friendly 
ground-dove's habitat or become predators of the species, but these 
regulations do not require any measures to control invasive nonnative 
plants or animals that already are established and proving harmful to 
native species and their habitats (DMWR 2006, p. 80) (see Factor D for 
the Pacific sheath-tailed bat, above).
    As described above, the Territorial Coastal Management Act 
establishes a land use permit (LUP) system for development projects and 
a Project Notification Review System (PNRS) for multi-agency review and 
approval of LUP applications (ASAC Sec.  26.0206). The standards and 
criteria for review of LUP applications include requirements to protect 
Special Management Areas (SMA), Unique Areas, and ``critical habitats'' 
(ASCA Sec.  24.0501 et. seq.). To date, the SMAs that have been 
designated (Pago Pago Harbor, Leone Pala, and Nuuuli Pala; ASAC Sec.  
26.0221), are all on Tutuila and do not provide habitat for the 
friendly ground-dove, which occurs only on the islands of Ofu and 
Olosega. The only Unique Area designated to date, the Ottoville 
Rainforest (American Samoa Coastal Management Program 2011, p. 52), 
also is on Tutuila and does not provide habitat for the friendly 
ground-dove. These laws and regulations are designed to ensure that 
``environmental concerns are given appropriate consideration,'' and 
include provisions and requirements that could address to some degree 
threats to native forest habitat required by the friendly ground-dove, 
even though individual species are not named (ASAC Sec.  26.0202 et 
seq.). Because the implementation of these regulations has been minimal 
and review of permits is not rigorous, issuance of permits may not 
provide the habitat protection necessary to provide for the 
conservation of the friendly ground-dove and instead result in loss of 
native habitat important to this and other species as a result of land 
clearing for agriculture and development (DMWR 2006, p. 71). We 
conclude that the implementation of the Coastal Management Act and its 
PNRS is inadequate to address the threat of habitat destruction and 
degradation to the friendly ground-dove (see Factor D for the Pacific 
sheath-tailed bat for further details).
Summary of Factor D
    In summary, existing Territorial laws and regulatory mechanisms 
have the potential to offer some level of protection for the American 
Samoa DPS of the friendly ground-dove and its habitat but are not 
currently implemented in a manner that would do so. The DMWR has not 
exercised its statutory authority to address threats to the ground-dove 
such as predation by nonnative predators, the species is not listed 
pursuant to the Territorial Endangered Species Act, and the Coastal 
Management Act and its implementing regulations have the potential to 
address the threat of habitat loss to deforestation more substantively, 
but this law is inadequately

[[Page 61594]]

implemented. Based on the best available information, some existing 
regulatory mechanisms have the potential to offer some protection of 
the friendly ground-dove and its habitat, but their implementation does 
not reduce or remove threats to the species such as habitat destruction 
or modification or predation by nonnative species. For these reasons, 
we conclude that existing regulatory mechanisms do not address the 
threats to the American Samoa DPS of the friendly ground-dove.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

Hurricanes
    Hurricanes may cause the direct and indirect mortality of the 
friendly ground-dove, as well as modify its already limited habitat 
(see Factor A above). This species has likely coexisted with hurricanes 
for millennia in American Samoa, and if the friendly ground-dove was 
widely distributed in American Samoa, had ample habitat and sufficient 
numbers, and was not under chronic pressure from anthropogenic threats 
such as habitat loss and introduced predators, it might recover from 
hurricane-related mortality and the temporary loss or redistribution of 
resources in the wake of severe storms. However, this species' current 
status in American Samoa makes it highly vulnerable to chance events, 
such as hurricanes.
Low Numbers of Individuals and Populations
    Species with a low total number of individuals, restricted 
distributions, and small, isolated populations are often more 
susceptible to extinction as a result of natural catastrophes, 
demographic fluctuations, or inbreeding depression (Shaffer 1981, p. 
131; see Factor E discussion for the Pacific sheath-tailed bat, above). 
The American Samoa DPS of the friendly ground-dove is at risk of 
extinction because of its probable low remaining number of individuals 
and distribution restricted to small areas on the islands of Ofu and 
Olosega, conditions that render this DPS vulnerable to the small-
population stressors listed above. These stressors include 
environmental catastrophes, such as hurricanes, which could immediately 
extinguish some or all of the remaining populations; demographic 
stochasticity that could leave the species without sufficient males or 
females to be viable; and inbreeding depression or loss of adaptive 
potential that can be associated with loss of genetic diversity and 
result in eventual extinction. These small-population stressors are a 
threat to the American Samoa DPS of the friendly ground-dove, and this 
threat is exacerbated by habitat loss and degradation (Factor A) and 
predation by nonnative mammals (Factor C).
Climate Change
    Our analyses under the Act include consideration of ongoing and 
projected changes in climate (see Factor E discussion for the Pacific 
sheath-tailed bat). The magnitude and intensity of the impacts of 
global climate change and increasing temperatures on western tropical 
Pacific island ecosystems are currently unknown. In addition, there are 
no climate change studies that address impacts to the specific habitats 
of the American Samoa DPS of the friendly ground-dove. The scientific 
assessment completed by the Pacific Science Climate Science Program 
provides general projections or trends for predicted changes in climate 
and associated changes in ambient temperature, precipitation, 
hurricanes, and sea level rise for countries in the western tropical 
Pacific region including Samoa (Australian BOM and CSIRO 2011, Vol. 1 
and 2; used as a proxy for American Samoa) (see Factor E discussion for 
the Pacific sheath-tailed bat).
    Although we do not have specific information on the impacts of 
climate change to the American Samoa DPS of the friendly ground-dove, 
increased ambient temperature and precipitation, increased severity of 
hurricanes, and sea level rise and inundation would likely exacerbate 
other threats to its habitat. Although hurricanes are part of the 
natural disturbance regime in the tropical Pacific, and the friendly 
ground-dove has evolved in presence of this disturbance, the projected 
increase in the severity of hurricanes resulting from climate change is 
expected to exacerbate the hurricane-related impacts such as habitat 
destruction and modification and availability of food resources of the 
friendly ground-dove, whose diet consists mainly of seeds, fruit, buds, 
and young leaves and shoots (Watling 2001, p. 118). For example, 
Hurricanes Heta (in January 2004) and Olaf (in February 2005) virtually 
destroyed suitable habitat for the friendly ground-dove at one of the 
areas on Olosega where this species was most frequently encountered; 
detections of ground-doves in other, less storm-damaged areas 
subsequently increased, suggesting they had moved from the area 
affected by the storms (Seamon 2005, in litt.; Tulafono 2006, in 
litt.). The probability of species extinction as a result of climate 
change impacts increases when a species' range is restricted, its 
habitat decreases, and its numbers are declining (IPCC 2007, p. 8). The 
friendly ground-dove is limited by its restricted range, diminished 
habitat, and small population size. Therefore, we expect the friendly 
ground-dove to be particularly vulnerable to the environmental impacts 
of projected changes in climate and subsequent impacts to its habitat. 
Based on the above information, we conclude that habitat impacts 
resulting from the effects of climate change are not a current threat 
but are likely to become a threat to the American Samoa DPS of the 
friendly ground-dove in the future.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Other Natural or Manmade Factors 
Affecting Its Continued Existence
    We are unaware of any conservation actions planned or implemented 
at this time to abate the threats of hurricanes and low numbers of 
individuals that negatively impact the American Samoa DPS of the 
friendly-ground-dove.
Proposed Determination for the American Samoa DPS of the Friendly 
Ground-Dove
    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to the American Samoa DPS of the friendly ground-dove. The American 
Samoa DPS of the friendly ground-dove is vulnerable to extinction 
because of its reduced population size and distribution, habitat loss, 
and probable depredation by nonnative mammals.
    The habitat of the American Samoa DPS of the friendly ground-dove 
remains degraded and destroyed by past land-clearing for agriculture, 
and hurricanes exacerbate the poor status of this habitat, a threat 
that is likely to continue in the future (Factor A) and worsen under 
the projected effects of climate change. The threat of predation by 
nonnative mammals such as rats and cats is likely to continue in the 
future (Factor C). Current Territorial wildlife laws and regulations do 
not address the threats to this DPS (Factor D). The DPS of the friendly 
ground-dove persists in low numbers of individuals and in few and 
disjunct populations (Factor E), a threat that interacts 
synergistically with other threats. These factors pose threats to the 
American Samoa DPS of the friendly ground-dove, whether we consider 
their effects individually or cumulatively. These threats will continue 
in the future.
    The Act defines an endangered species as any species that is ``in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a

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significant portion of its range'' and a threatened species as any 
species ``that is likely to become endangered throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range within the foreseeable future.'' We 
find that the friendly ground-dove is presently in danger of extinction 
throughout its entire range based on the severity and immediacy of 
threats currently impacting the species.
    Therefore, on the basis of the best available scientific and 
commercial information, we propose listing the American Samoa DPS of 
the friendly ground-dove as endangered in accordance with sections 3(6) 
and 4(a)(1) of the Act. We find that the American Samoa DPS of the 
friendly ground-dove is presently in danger of extinction throughout 
its entire range based on the severity and immediacy of the ongoing and 
projected threats described above. The friendly ground-dove is 
restricted to the islands of Ofu and Olosega, where it exists in low 
numbers and is subject to predation by nonnative animals. The ground-
dove's remaining habitat is limited and at risk from ongoing 
degradation by hurricanes. Habitat loss and degradation and the 
imminent threats of predation, the effects of small population size, 
and stochastic events such as hurricanes render the American Samoa DPS 
of the friendly ground-dove highly susceptible to extinction.
    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may 
warrant listing if it is in danger of extinction or likely to become so 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Because we have 
determined that the DPS of the friendly ground-dove is endangered 
throughout all of its range, no portion of its range can be 
``significant'' for purposes of the definitions of ``endangered 
species'' and ``threatened species.'' See the Final Policy on 
Interpretation of the Phrase ``Significant Portion of Its Range'' in 
the Endangered Species Act's Definitions of ``Endangered Species'' and 
``Threatened Species'' (79 FR 37577, July 1, 2014).

Snails

Eua zebrina
    Eua zebrina, a tropical tree snail in the family Partulidae, occurs 
solely on the islands of Tutuila and Ofu in American Samoa. Snails in 
this family (which includes three genera: Eua, Partula, and Samoana) 
are widely distributed throughout the high islands of Polynesia, 
Melanesia, and Micronesia in the south- and west-Pacific basin (Johnson 
et al. 1986a, pp. 161-177; Goodacre and Wade 2001, p. 6; Lee et al. 
2014, pp. 2, 6-8). Many of the roughly 120 or more partulid species, 
including Eua zebrina, are restricted to single islands or isolated 
groups of islands (Kondo 1968, pp. 75-77; Cowie 1992, p. 169). The 
Samoan partulid tree snails in the genera Eua and Samoana are a good 
example of this endemism. Cowie's (1998) taxonomic work is the most 
recent and accepted taxonomic treatment of this species.
    Eua zebrina varies in color ranging from almost white to pale-
brown, to dark brown or purplish; with or without a zebra-like pattern 
of flecks and lines (Cowie and Cooke 1999, pp. 29-30). Most E. zebrina 
shells have transverse patterning (distinct coloration perpendicular to 
whorls) with a more flared aperture (i.e., tapered or wide-rimmed shell 
lip) than species of the related genus Samoana (Cowie et al. in prep.). 
Adult Tutuila snail shells usually fall between 0.7 and 0.8 in (18 to 
21 mm) in height and between 0.4 and 0.5 in (11 to 13 mm) in width.
    The biology of Samoan partulid snails has not been extensively 
studied, but there is considerable information on the partulid snails 
of the Mariana Islands (Crampton 1925a, pp. 1-113; Cowie 1992, pp. 167-
191; Hopper and Smith 1992, pp. 77-85) and Society Islands (Crampton 
1925b, pp. 5-35; Crampton 1932, pp. 1-194; Murray et al. 1982, pp. 316-
325; Johnson et al. 1986a, pp. 167-177; Johnson et al. 1986b, pp. 319-
327). Snails in the family Partulidae are predominantly nocturnal, 
arboreal herbivores that feed mainly on partially decayed and fresh 
plant material (Murray 1972 cited in Cowie 1992, p. 175; Murray et al. 
1982, p. 324; Cowie 1992, pp. 167, 175; Miller 2014, pers. comm.). 
Partulids are slow growing and hermaphroditic (Cowie 1992, pp. 167, 
174). Eggs develop within the maternal body and hatch within or 
immediately after extrusion; they may or may not receive nourishment 
directly from the parent prior to extrusion (Cowie 1992, p. 174). Some 
species in the family are known to be self-fertile, but most partulids 
rely predominantly on out-crossing (Cowie 1992, pp. 167, 174). Adult 
partulids generally live about 5 years and give birth about every 20 
days, producing about 18 offspring per year (Cowie 1992, pp. 174, 179-
180).
    Partulids can have a single preferred host plant or multiple host 
plants, in addition to having preference toward anatomical parts of the 
plant (i.e., leaves, branch, or trunk). Habitat partitioning may occur 
among three partulids on Tutuila (Murray et al. 1982, pp. 317-318; 
Cooke 1928, p. 6). Cooke (1928, p. 6) observed that Samoana conica and 
S. abbreviata were commonly found on trunks and branches, and Eua 
zebrina was commonly found on leaves, but could also be found on trunks 
and branches, as well as on the ground in the leaf litter. A similar 
partitioning of habitat has been reported for the Partula of the 
Society Islands (Murray et al. 1982, p. 316). The snails are typically 
found scattered on understory vegetation in forest with intact canopy 
33 to 66 ft (10 to 20 m) above the ground (Cowie and Cook 1999, pp. 47-
49; Cowie 2001, p. 219). The importance of native forest canopy and 
understory for Samoan land snails cannot be underestimated; all live 
snails were found on understory vegetation beneath intact forest canopy 
(Miller 1993, p. 16).
    Review of long-term changes in the American Samoa land snail fauna 
based on surveys from 1975 to 1998 and pre-1975 collections 
characterized 3 of 12 species as being stable in numbers, with the rest 
described as declining in numbers, including E. zebrina (Solem 1975, as 
cited in Cowie 2001, pp. 214-216; Christensen 1980, p. 1; Miller 1993, 
p. 13; Cowie 2001, p. 215). Eua zebrina was historically known only 
from the island of Tutuila (Cowie and Cook 2001, p. 49), and until 
1975, it was considered widespread and common (Cowie 2001, p. 215). The 
large number of collections (927) of this species from Tutuila between 
the 1920s and 1960s indicate this species was clearly widely 
distributed and abundant; some collections included hundreds of 
specimens (Cowie and Cook 2001, p. 154). In addition, the enormous 
number of shells of this species used in hotel chandeliers also 
suggests its previous abundance (Cowie 1993, p. 1). Then, in 1993, only 
34 live individuals of E. zebrina were found at 2 of 9 sites on 
Tutuila, with only shells found at 4 other sites (Miller 1993, pp. 11-
13). In a 1998 survey, E. zebrina was seen alive at 30 of 87 sites 
surveyed for land snails on Tutuila, and at 1 of 58 sites surveyed in 
the Manua Islands (Ofu, Olosega, and Tau), where it was observed for 
the first time on Ofu (Cowie and Cook 1999, pp. 13, 22; Cowie 2001, p. 
215). During the 1998 survey, 1,102 live E. zebrina were recorded on 
Tutuila, and 88 live E. zebrina were recorded on Ofu (Cowie and Cook 
1999, p. 30). The uneven distribution of the 1,102 live snails on 
Tutuila suggest an overall decline in distribution and abundance; 479 
live snails were recorded at 3 survey sites in one area, 165 live 
snails were recorded at 7 survey sites, and fewer than 10 snails were 
recorded at each of the remaining 20 sites (Cowie and Cook 1999, p. 
30). On Tutuila, the survey sites with the highest numbers of E. 
zebrina

[[Page 61596]]

(except one site, Amalau) are concentrated in the central area of the 
National Park of American Samoa: Toa Ridge, Faiga Ridge, and eastwards 
to the Vatia powerline trail and along Alava Ridge in these areas 
(Cowie and Cook 1999, p. 30). We are unaware of any systematic surveys 
conducted for E. zebrina since 1998; however, E. zebrina are still 
periodically observed by American Samoan field biologists (Miles 2015c, 
in litt.). Because the island of Ofu in the Manua Islands does not yet 
have the predatory snail, Euglandina rosea (see Factor C. Disease or 
Predation), the population of Eua zebrina on Ofu is of major 
conservation significance (Cowie 2001, p. 217).

Summary of Factors Affecting Eua zebrina

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

Habitat Destruction and Modification by Nonnative Plant Species
    Nonnative plant species can seriously modify native habitat and 
render it unsuitable for native snail species (Hadfield 1986, p. 325). 
Although some Hawaiian tree snails have been recorded on nonnative 
vegetation, it is more generally the case that native snails throughout 
the Pacific are specialized to survive only on the native plants with 
which they have evolved (Cowie 2001, p. 219). Cowie (2001, p. 219) 
reported few observations of native snails, including Eua zebrina, in 
disturbed habitats on Tutuila.
    The native flora of the Samoan archipelago (plant species that were 
present before humans arrived) consisted of approximately 550 taxa, 30 
percent of which were endemic (species that occur only in the American 
Samoa and Samoa) (Whistler 2002, p. 8). An additional 250 plant species 
have been intentionally or accidentally introduced and have become 
naturalized with 20 or more of these considered invasive or potentially 
invasive in American Samoa (Whistler 2002, p. 8; Space and Flynn 2000, 
pp. 23-24). Of these approximately 20 or more nonnative pest plant 
species, at least 10 have altered or have the potential to alter the 
habitat of the species proposed for listing as endangered or threatened 
species (Atkinson and Medeiros 2006, p. 18; Craig 2009, pp. 94, 97-98; 
ASCC 2010, p. 15).
    Nonnative plants can degrade native habitat in Pacific island 
environments by: (1) Modifying the availability of light through 
alterations of the canopy structure; (2) altering soil-water regimes; 
(3) modifying nutrient cycling; (4) ultimately converting native-
dominated plant communities to nonnative plant communities; and (5) 
increasing the frequency of landslides and erosion (Smith 1985, pp. 
217-218; Cuddihy and Stone, 1990, p. 74; Matson 1990, p. 245; D'Antonio 
and Vitousek 1992, p. 73; Vitousek et al. 1997, pp. 6-9; Atkinson and 
Medeiros 2006, p. 16). Nonnative plant species often exploit the 
disturbance caused by other factors such as hurricanes, agriculture and 
development, and feral ungulates, and thus, in combination reinforce or 
exacerbate their negative impacts to native habitats. Although the 
areas within the National Park of American Samoa (NPSA) on the islands 
of Tutuila, Ofu, and Tau contain many areas that are relatively free of 
human disturbance and alien invasion and largely represent pre-contact 
vegetation, the threat of invasion and further spread by nonnative 
plant species poses immense cause for concern (Atkinson and Medeiros 
2006, p. 17; ASCC 2010, p. 22).
    For brief descriptions of the nonnative plants that impose the 
greatest negative impacts to the native habitats in American Samoa, see 
the list provided in Habitat Destruction and Modification by Nonnative 
Plants for the mao, above.
    In summary, based on the potential invasion and habitat-modifying 
impacts of nonnative plant species, habitat destruction and 
modification by nonnative plant species is and will continue to be a 
threat to Eua zebrina.
Habitat Destruction and Modification by Agriculture and Development
    Several thousand years of subsistence agriculture and more recent 
plantation agriculture has resulted in the alteration and great 
reduction in area of forests at lower elevations (Whistler 1994, p. 40; 
Mueller-Dombois and Fosberg 1998, p. 361). The threat of land 
conversion to unsuitable habitat will accelerate if the human 
population continues to grow or if the changes in the economy shift 
toward commercial agriculture (DMWR 2006, p. 71). On the island of 
Tutuila, agriculture and urban development covers approximately 24 
percent of the island, and up to 60 percent of the island contains 
slopes of less than 30 percent where additional land-clearing is 
feasible (ASCC 2010, p. 13; DWMR 2006, p. 25). Farmers are increasingly 
encroaching into some of the steep forested areas as a result of 
suitable flat lands already being occupied with urban development and 
agriculture (ASCC 2010, p. 13). Consequently, agricultural plots on 
Tutuila have spread from low elevations up to middle and some high 
elevations on Tutuila, significantly reducing the forest area and thus 
reducing the resilience of the native forest and populations of native 
snails. In addition, substantial housing increases are also projected 
to occur in some rural forests along the northern coastline of Tutuila, 
and in a few scattered areas near existing population bases with 
established roads (Stein et al. 2014, p. 24). These areas are outside 
of known snail locations within NPSA, but they do include forested 
habitat where snails may occur.
    The development of roads, trails, and utility corridors has also 
caused habitat destruction and modification in or adjacent to existing 
populations of Eua zebrina on Tutuila (Cowie and Cook 1999, pp. 3, 30). 
Development and agriculture along the Alava Ridge road and in the areas 
surrounding the Amalau inholding within NPSA pose a threat to 
populations of E. zebrina in these areas (Whistler 1994, p. 41; Cowie 
and Cook 1999, pp. 48-49). In addition, construction activities, 
regular vehicular and foot trail access, and road maintenance 
activities cause erosion and the increased spread of nonnative plants 
resulting in further destruction or modification of habitat (Cowie and 
Cook 1999, pp. 3, 47-48). However, in spite of the incidence of 
encroachment by development and agriculture in certain areas, the NPSA 
provides approximately 2,533 ac (1,025 ha) of forested habitat on 
Tutuila that is largely protected from clearing for agriculture and 
development and managed under a 50-year lease agreement with the 
American Samoa Government and multiple villages (NPSA Lease Agreement 
1993). In addition, areas of continuous, undisturbed native forest on 
northwestern Tutuila outside of the NPSA boundaries may support 
additional populations of E. zebrina, however, survey data for these 
areas are lacking. In summary, agriculture and development have 
contributed to habitat destruction and modification, and continue to be 
a threat to E. zebrina on Tutuila. The available information does not 
indicate that agriculture and development are a current threat to the 
single known population of E. zebrina on Ofu. However, because the vast 
majority of individuals and populations of this species occur on 
Tutuila, we consider agriculture and development to be a current and 
ongoing threat to E. zebrina.
Habitat Destruction or Modification by Feral Pigs
    Feral pigs are known to cause deleterious impacts to ecosystem 
processes and functions throughout their worldwide distribution (Aplet 
et

[[Page 61597]]

al. 1991, p. 56; Anderson and Stone 1993, p. 201; Campbell and Long 
2009, p. 2,319). Feral pigs are extremely destructive and have both 
direct and indirect impacts on native plant communities. Pigs are a 
major vector for the establishment and spread of invasive, nonnative 
plant species by dispersing plant seeds on their hooves and fur, and in 
their feces (Diong 1982, pp. 169-170, 196-197), which also serve to 
fertilize disturbed soil (Siemann et al. 2009, p. 547). In addition, 
pig rooting and wallowing contributes to erosion by clearing vegetation 
and creating large areas of disturbed soil, especially on slopes (Smith 
1985, pp. 190, 192, 196, 200, 204, 230-231; Stone 1985, pp. 254-255, 
262-264; Tomich 1986, pp. 120-126; Cuddihy and Stone 1990, pp. 64-65; 
Aplet et al. 1991, p. 56; Loope et al. 1991, pp. 18-19; Gagne and 
Cuddihy 1999, p. 52; Nogueira-Filho et al. 2009, p. 3,681; CNMI-SWARS 
2010, p. 15; Dunkell et al. 2011, pp. 175-177; Kessler 2011, pp. 320, 
323). Erosion resulting from rooting and trampling by pigs impacts 
native plant communities by contributing to watershed degradation, 
alteration of plant nutrient status, and increasing the likelihood of 
landslides (Vitousek et al. 2009, pp. 3,074-3,086; Chan-Halbrendt et 
al. 2010, p. 251; Kessler 2011, pp. 320-324). In the Hawaiian Islands, 
pigs have been described as the most pervasive and disruptive nonnative 
influence on the unique native forests, and are widely recognized as 
one of the greatest current threats to Hawaii's forest ecosystems 
(Aplet et al. 1991, p. 56; Anderson and Stone 1993, p. 195).
    Feral pigs have been present in American Samoa since antiquity 
(American Samoa Historic Preservation Office 2015, in litt.). In the 
past, hunting pressure kept their numbers down, however, increasing 
urbanization and increasing availability of material goods has resulted 
in the decline in the practice of pig hunting to almost nothing 
(Whistler 1992, p. 21; 1994, p. 41). Feral pigs are moderately common 
to abundant in many forested areas, where they spread invasive plants, 
damage understory vegetation, and destroy riparian areas by their 
feeding and wallowing behavior (DMWR 2006, p. 23; ASCC 2010, p. 15). 
Feral pigs are a serious problem in the NPSA because of the damage they 
cause to native vegetation through their rooting and wallowing 
(Whistler 1992, p. 21; 1994, p. 41; Hoshide 1996, p. 2; Cowie and Cook 
1999, p. 48; Togia pers. comm. in Loope et al. 2013, p. 321). Pig 
densities have been reduced in some areas (Togia 2015, in litt.), but 
without control methods that effectively reduce feral pig populations, 
are likely to persist and remain high in areas that provide habitat for 
E. zebrina (Hess et al. 2006, p. 53; ASCC 2010, p. 15). Based on the 
reliance of E. zebrina on understory vegetation under native forest 
canopy, as well as its potential to feed on the ground in the leaf 
litter, rooting, wallowing, and trampling, the associated impacts to 
native vegetation and soil caused by feral pigs will negatively impact 
the habitat of E. zebrina and are a current threat to the species.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Habitat Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Range
    Several programs and partnerships to address the threat of habitat 
modification by nonnative plant species and feral pigs have been 
established and are ongoing within areas that provide habitat for E. 
zebrina (see Factor A discussion for the mao). In addition, 
approximately 2,533 ac (1,025 ha) of forested habitat within the 
Tutuila Unit of the NPSA are protected and managed under a 50-year 
lease agreement with the American Samoa Government and multiple 
villages contributing to the conservation of E. zebrina (NPSA Lease 
Agreement 1993).
Summary of Factor A
    In summary, based on the best available scientific and commercial 
information, we consider the threats of destruction, modification, and 
curtailment of the species habitat and range to be ongoing threats to 
Eua zebrina. The decline of the native land snails in American Samoa 
has resulted, in part, from the loss of native habitat to agriculture 
and development, disturbance by feral pigs, and the establishment of 
nonnative plant species; these threats are ongoing and are of moderate 
influence, and are likely exacerbated by impacts to native forest 
structure from hurricanes. All of the above threats are ongoing and 
interact to exacerbate the negative impacts and increase the 
vulnerability of extinction of E. zebrina.

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    Tree snails can be found around the world in tropical and 
subtropical regions and have been valued as collectibles for centuries. 
For example, the endemic Hawaiian tree snails within the family 
Achatinellidae were extensively collected for scientific and 
recreational purposes by Europeans in the 18th to early 20th centuries 
(Hadfield 1986, p. 322). During the 1800s, collectors sometimes took 
more than 4,000 snails in several hours (Hadfield 1986, p. 322). 
Repeated collections of hundreds to thousands of individuals may have 
contributed to decline in these species by reduction of reproductive 
potential (removal of breeding adults) as well as by reduction of total 
numbers (Hadfield 1986, p. 327). In the Hawaiian genus Achatinella, 
noted for its colorful variations, 22 species are now extinct and the 
remaining 19 species endangered (Hadfield 1986, p. 320). In American 
Samoa, thousands of partulid tree snail shells (mostly E. zebrina) have 
been collected and used for decorative purposes (e.g., chandeliers) 
(Cowie 1993, pp. 1, 9).
    In general, the collection of tree snails persists to this day, and 
the market for rare tree snails serves as an incentive to collect them. 
A recent search of the Internet found a Web site advertising the sale 
of E. zebrina as well as three other Partulid species (Conchology, Inc. 
2015, in litt.). Based on the history of collection of E. zebrina, the 
evidence of its sale on the Internet, and the vulnerability of the 
small remaining populations of this species, we consider over-
collection to be a threat to the continued existence of E. zebrina.

C. Disease or Predation

Disease
    We are not aware of any threats to Eua zebrina that would be 
attributable to disease.
Predation by Nonnative Snails
    At present, the major existing threat to long-term survival of the 
native snail fauna in American Samoa is predation by the nonnative rosy 
wolf snail (Euglandina rosea), the most commonly recommended biological 
control agent of the giant African snail (Achatina fulica), which also 
is an invasive nonnative species in American Samoa. In 1980, the rosy 
wolf snail was released on Tutuila to control the giant African snail 
(Lai and Nakahara 1980 as cited in Miller 1993, p. 9). By 1984, the 
rosy wolf snail was considered to be well established on Tutuila, 
having reached the mountains (Eldredge 1988, pp. 122, 124-125), and by 
2001 was reported as widespread within the National Park of American 
Samoa on Tutuila (Cowie and Cook 2001, pp. 156-157). While there are no 
records of introduction of the rosy wolf snail to the Manua Islands 
(Ofu, Olosega, and Tau), this species has been reported on Tau (Miller 
1993, p. 10). The absence of the rosy wolf snail on the islands of Ofu 
and Olosega is

[[Page 61598]]

significant because E. zebrina is present on Ofu (Miller 1993, p. 10, 
Cowie and Cook 2001, p. 143; Cowie et al. 2003, p. 39).
    Numerous studies show that the rosy wolf snail feeds on endemic 
island snails and is a major agent in their declines and extinctions 
(Hadfield and Mountain 1981, p. 357; Howarth 1983, p. 240, 1985, p. 
161, 1991, p. 489; Clarke et al. 1984, pp. 101-103; Hadfield 1986, p. 
327; Murray et al. 1988, pp. 150-153; Hadfield et al. 1993, pp. 616-
620; Cowie 2001, p. 219). Live individuals of the rosy wolf snail have 
been observed within meters of partulids on Tutuila, including E. 
zebrina and Samoana conica (Miller 1993, p. 10). Shells of E. zebrina 
and S. conica were found on the ground at several of the locations 
surveyed on Tutuila, along with numerous shells and an occasional live 
individual of the rosy wolf snail (Miller 1993, pp. 13, 23-28). The 
population of E. zebrina on Nuusetoga Island, a small islet off the 
north shore of Tutuila, was probably isolated from an ancestral parent 
population on Tutuila in prehistoric time (Miller 1993, p, 13). No live 
rosy wolf snails were found on this offshore islet in 1992, and E. 
zebrina on the islet were deemed safe from predatory snails at that 
time (Miller 1993, p. 13). Due to the widespread presence of the rosy 
wolf snail on Tutuila and the high probability of its unintentional 
introduction into additional areas within the range of E. zebrina, 
predation by the rosy wolf snail is a current threat to E. zebrina that 
will continue into the future.
    Predation by several other nonnative carnivorous snails, Gonaxis 
kibweziensis, Streptostele musaecola, and Gulella bicolor, has been 
suggested as a potential threat to Eua zebrina and other native land 
snails. Species of Gonaxis, also widely introduced in the Pacific in 
attempts to control Achatina fulica, have been implicated, though less 
strongly, in contributing to the decline of native snail species in the 
region (Cowie and Cook 1999, p. 46). Gonaxis kibweziensis was 
introduced on Tutuila in American Samoa in 1977 (Eldredge 1988, p. 
122). This species has only been reported from Tutuila (Miller 1993, p. 
9, Cowie and Cook 1999, p. 36), and is not as common as the rosy wolf 
snail (Miller 1993, p. 11). However, the two other predatory snails 
have been recorded on the Manua Islands: S. musaecola from Tutuila, 
Tau, and Ofu; and G. bicolor on Ofu (Cowie and Cook 1999, pp. 36-37). 
The potential impacts of these two species on the native fauna are 
unknown; both are much smaller than the rosy wolf snail and G. 
kibweziensis, and were rarely observed during surveys (Cowie and Cook 
1999, pp. 36-37, 46). However, Solem (1975 as cited in Miller 1993, p. 
16) speculated that S. musaecola might have a role in the further 
decline of native species, and Miller (1993, p. 16) considered that it 
``undoubtedly had a negative impact.'' Despite the lack of current 
information on the abundance of G. kibweziensis, but because of its 
predatory nature and the declining trend and small remaining 
populations of E. zebrina, we consider this species to be a threat to 
the continued existence E. zebrina. However, because of their 
previously observed low abundance and comparatively small size, and the 
lack of specific information regarding their impacts to E. zebrina, we 
do not consider predation by G. bicolor or S. musaecola to be threats 
to the continued existence of E. zebrina.
    In summary, predation by nonnative snails, especially the rosy wolf 
snail, is a current threat to E. zebrina and will continue into the 
future.
Predation by the New Guinea or Snail-Eating Flatworm
    Predation by the nonnative New Guinea or snail-eating flatworm 
(Platydemus manokwari) is a threat to E. zebrina. The extinction of 
native land snails on several Pacific Islands has been attributed to 
this terrestrial flatworm, native to western New Guinea (Ohbayashi et 
al. 2007, p. 483; Sugiura 2010, p. 1,499). The New Guinea flatworm was 
released in an unsanctioned effort to control the giant African snail 
(Achatina fulica) in Samoa in the 1990s (Cowie and Cook 1999, p. 47). 
In 2002, this species was likely present within the Samoan archipelago 
but was not yet introduced to American Samoa (Cowie 2002, p. 18). 
However, by 2004, this predatory flatworm had been found on the islands 
of Tutuila and Tau (Craig 2009, p. 84).
    The New Guinea flatworm has contributed to the decline of native 
tree snails due to its ability to ascend into trees and bushes (Sugiura 
and Yamaura 2009, p. 741). Although mostly ground-dwelling, the New 
Guinea flatworm has also been observed to climb trees and feed on 
partulid tree snails (Hopper and Smith 1992, p. 82). Areas with 
populations of the flatworm usually lack partulid tree snails or have 
declining numbers of snails (Hopper and Smith 1992, p. 82). Because E. 
zebrina feeds on the ground as well as in shrubs and trees, it faces 
increased risk of predation by the New Guinea flatworm (Cooke 1928, p. 
6). In summary, due to the presence of the New Guinea flatworm on 
Tutuila, and the high probability of its accidental introduction to the 
islands of Ofu and Olosega, predation by the New Guinea flatworm is a 
current threat to E. zebrina that will continue into the future.
Predation by Rats
    Rats are likely responsible for the greatest number of animal 
extinctions on islands throughout the world, including extinctions of 
various snail species (Towns et al. 2006, p. 88). Rats are known to 
prey upon arboreal snails endemic to Pacific islands and can devastate 
populations (Hadfield et al. 1993, p. 621). Rat predation on tree 
snails has been observed on the Hawaiian Islands of Lanai (Hobdy 1993, 
p. 208; Hadfield 2005, in litt, p. 4), Molokai (Hadfield and Saufler 
2009, p. 1,595), and Maui (Hadfield 2006, in litt.). Three species of 
rats are present in the American Samoa: The Polynesian rat, probably 
introduced by early Polynesian colonizers, and Norway and black rats, 
both introduced subsequent to western contact (Atkinson 1985, p. 38; 
Cowie and Cook 1999, p. 47; DMWR 2006, p. 22). Polynesian and Norway 
rats are considered abundant in American Samoa but insufficient data 
exist on the populations of black rats (DMWR 2006, p. 22).
    Evidence of predation by rats on E. zebrina was observed at several 
locations on Tutuila (Miller 1993, pp. 13, 16). Shells of E. zebrina 
were damaged in a fashion that is typical of rat predation; the shell 
is missing a large piece of the body whorl or the apex (Miller 1993, p. 
13). Old shells may be weathered in a similar fashion, except that the 
fracture lines are not sharp and angular. Frequent evidence of 
predation by rats was also observed on native land snails during 
subsequent surveys (Cowie and Cook 1999, p. 47). In summary, based on 
the presence of rats on Tutuila and Ofu, evidence of predation, and the 
effects on rats on native land snail populations, predation by rats is 
a threat to E. zebrina that is likely to continue in the future.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Disease or Predation
    We are unaware of any conservation actions planned or implemented 
at this time to abate the threats of predation by rats, nonnative 
snails or flatworms to E. zebrina.
Summary of Factor C
    In summary, based on the best available scientific and commercial 
information, we consider predation by the rosy wolf snail, Gonaxis 
kibweziensis, New Guinea flatworm, and rats to be a threat to E. 
zebrina that will continue in the future.

[[Page 61599]]

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The Act requires that the Secretary assess available regulatory 
mechanisms in order to determine whether existing regulatory mechanisms 
may be inadequate as designed to address threats to the species being 
evaluated (Factor D). Under this factor, we examine whether existing 
regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to address the potential threats 
to E. zebrina discussed under other factors. In determining whether the 
inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms constitutes a threat to E. zebrina, 
we analyzed the existing Federal, Territorial, and international laws 
and regulations that may address the threats to this species or contain 
relevant protective measures. Regulatory mechanisms, if they exist, may 
preclude the need for listing if we determine that such mechanisms 
adequately address the threats to the species such that listing is not 
warranted.
    No existing Federal laws, treaties, or regulations specify 
protection of E. zebrina's habitat from the threat of deforestation, or 
address the threat of predation by nonnative species such as rats, the 
rosy wolf snail, and the New Guinea flatworm. Some existing Territorial 
laws and regulations have the potential to afford E. zebrina some 
protection but their implementation does not achieve that result. The 
DMWR is given statutory authority to ``manage, protect, preserve, and 
perpetuate marine and wildlife resources'' and to promulgate rules and 
regulations to that end (American Samoa Code Annotated (ASCA), title 
24, chapter 3). This agency conducts monitoring surveys, conservation 
activities, and community outreach and education about conservation 
concerns. However, to our knowledge, the DMWR has not used this 
authority to undertake conservation efforts for E. zebrina such as 
habitat protection and control of nonnative molluscs and rats (DMWR 
2006, pp. 79-80).
    The Territorial Endangered Species Act provides for appointment of 
a Commission with the authority to nominate species as either 
endangered or threatened (ASCA, title 24, chapter 7). Regulations 
adopted under the Coastal Management Act (ASCA Sec.  24.0501 et seq.) 
also prohibit the taking of threatened or endangered species (ASAC 
Sec.  26.0220.I.c). However, the ASG has not listed E. zebrina as 
threatened or endangered so these regulatory mechanisms do not provide 
protection for this species.
    Under ASCA, title 24, chapter 08 (Noxious Weeds), the Territorial 
DOA has the authority to ban, confiscate, and destroy species of plants 
harmful to the agricultural economy. Similarly, under ASCA, title 24, 
chapter 06 (Quarantine), the director of DOA has the authority to 
promulgate agriculture quarantine restrictions concerning animals. 
These laws may provide some protection against the introduction of new 
nonnative species that may have negative effects on E. zebrina's 
habitat or become predators of the species, but these regulations do 
not require any measures to control invasive nonnative plants or 
animals that already are established and proving harmful to native 
species and their habitats (DMWR 2006, p. 80) (see Factor D for the 
Pacific sheath-tailed bat, above).
    As described above, the Territorial Coastal Management Act 
establishes a land use permit (LUP) system for development projects and 
a Project Notification Review System (PNRS) for multi-agency review and 
approval of LUP applications (ASAC Sec.  26.0206). The standards and 
criteria for review of LUP applications include requirements to protect 
Special Management Areas (SMA), Unique Areas, and ``critical habitats'' 
(ASCA Sec.  24.0501 et seq.). To date, the SMAs that have been 
designated (Pago Pago Harbor, Leone Pala, and Nuuuli Pala; ASAC Sec.  
26.0221), all are in coastal and mangrove habitats on the south shore 
of Tutuila that don't provide habitat for E. zebrina. The only Unique 
Area designated to date is the Ottoville Rainforest (American Samoa 
Coastal Management Program 2011, p. 52), also on Tutuila's south shore, 
which hypothetically may provide habitat for E. zebrina, but it is a 
relatively small island of native forest in the middle of the heavily 
developed Tafuna Plain (Trail 1993, p. 4). These laws and regulations 
are designed to ensure that ``environmental concerns are given 
appropriate consideration,'' and include provisions and requirements 
that could address to some degree threats to native forest habitat 
required by E. zebrina on Tutuila and Ofu, even though individual 
species are not named (ASAC Sec.  26.0202 et seq.). Because the 
implementation of these regulations has been minimal and review of 
permits is not rigorous, issuance of permits may not provide the 
habitat protection necessary to provide for the conservation of E. 
zebrina and instead result in loss of native habitat important to this 
and other species as a result of land clearing for agriculture and 
development (DMWR 2006, p. 71). We conclude that the implementation of 
the Coastal Management Act and its PNRS is inadequate to address the 
threat of habitat destruction and degradation to E. zebrina (see Factor 
D for the Pacific sheath-tailed bat for further details).
Summary of Factor D
    In summary, existing Territorial laws and regulatory mechanisms 
have the potential to offer some level of protection for E. zebrina and 
its habitat but are not currently implemented in a manner that would do 
so. The DMWR has not exercised its statutory authority to address 
threats to the ground-dove such as predation by nonnative predators, 
the species is not listed pursuant to the Territorial Endangered 
Species Act, and the Coastal Management Act and its implementing 
regulations have the potential to address the threat of habitat loss to 
deforestation more substantively, but this law is inadequately 
implemented. Based on the best available information, some existing 
regulatory mechanisms have the potential to offer some protection of E. 
zebrina and its habitat, but their implementation does not reduce or 
remove threats to the species such as habitat destruction or 
modification or predation by nonnative species. For these reasons, we 
conclude that existing regulatory mechanisms do not address the threats 
to E. zebrina.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

Hurricanes
    Hurricanes are a common natural disturbance in the tropical Pacific 
and have occurred in American Samoa with varying frequency and 
intensity (see Factor E discussion for the Pacific sheath-tailed bat). 
Hurricanes may adversely impact the habitat of E. zebrina by destroying 
vegetation, opening the canopy, and thus modifying the availability of 
light and moisture, and creating disturbed areas conducive to invasion 
by nonnative plant species (Elmqvist et al. 1994, p. 387; Asner and 
Goldstein 1997, p. 148; Harrington et al. 1997, pp. 539-540; Lugo 2008, 
pp. 373-375, 386). Such impacts destroy or modify habitat elements 
(e.g., stem, branch, and leaf surfaces, undisturbed ground, and leaf 
litter) required to meet the snails' basic life-history requirements. 
In addition, high winds and intense rains from hurricanes can also 
dislodge individual snails from the leaves and branches of their host 
plants and deposit them on the forest floor where they may be crushed 
by falling vegetation or exposed to predation by nonnative rats and 
snails (see ``Disease

[[Page 61600]]

or Predation,'' above) (Hadfield 2011, pers. comm.).
    The negative impact on E. zebrina caused by hurricanes was strongly 
suggested by surveys that failed to detect any snails in areas 
bordering agricultural plots or in forest areas that were severely 
damaged by three hurricanes (1987, 1990, and 1991) (Miller 1993, p. 
16). Under natural conditions, loss of forest canopy to hurricanes did 
not pose a great threat to the long-term survival of these snails 
because there was enough intact forest with healthy populations of 
snails that would support dispersal back into newly regrown canopy 
forest. Similarly, forest damage may only be temporary and limited to 
defoliation or minor canopy damage, and vary depending on the aspect of 
forested areas in relation to the direction of approaching storms 
(Pierson et al. 1992, pp. 15-16). In general, forests in American 
Samoa, having evolved with the periodic disturbance regime of 
hurricanes, show remarkable abilities for regeneration and recovery, 
apart from catastrophic events (Webb et al. 2011, pp. 1,248-1,249).
    Nevertheless, the destruction of native vegetation and forest 
canopy, and modification of light and moisture conditions both during 
and in the months and possibly years following hurricanes can 
negatively impact the populations of E. zebrina. In addition, today, 
the impacts of habitat loss and degradation caused by other factors 
such as nonnative plant species (see ``Habitat Destruction and 
Modification by Nonnative Plant Species'' above), agriculture and urban 
development (see ``Habitat Destruction and Modification by Agriculture 
and Development'' above) and feral pigs (see ``Habitat Destruction and 
Modification by Feral Pigs''), are exacerbated by hurricanes. As snail 
populations decline and become increasingly isolated, future hurricanes 
are more likely to lead to the loss of populations or the extinction of 
species such as this one that rely on the remaining canopy forest. 
Therefore, we consider the threat of hurricanes to be a factor in the 
continued existence of E. zebrina.
Low Numbers of Individuals and Populations
    Species that undergo significant habitat loss and degradation and 
other threats resulting in decline and range reduction are inherently 
highly vulnerable to extinction resulting from localized catastrophes 
such as severe storms or disease outbreaks, climate change effects, and 
demographic stochasticity (Gilpin and Soul[eacute] 1986, pp. 24-34; 
Pimm et al. 1988, p. 757; Mangel and Tier 1994, p. 607). Conditions 
leading to this level of vulnerability are easily reached by island 
species that face numerous threats such as those described above for 
for E. zebrina. Small, isolated populations that are diminished by 
habitat loss, predation, and other threats can exhibit reduced levels 
of genetic variability, which can diminish the species' capacity to 
adapt to environmental changes, thereby increasing the risk of 
inbreeding depression and reducing the probability of long-term 
persistence (Shaffer 1981, p. 131; Gilpin and Soul[eacute] 1986, pp. 
24-34; Pimm et al. 1988, p. 757). The problems associated with small 
occurrence size and vulnerability to random demographic fluctuations or 
natural catastrophes are further magnified by interactions with other 
threats, such as those discussed above (see Factor A, Factor B, and 
Factor C, above).
    We consider E. zebrina vulnerable to extinction because of threats 
associated with low numbers of individuals and low numbers of 
populations. This species has suffered a serious decline and is limited 
by its slow reproduction and growth (Cowie and Cook 1999, p. 31). 
Threats to E. zebrina include: Habitat destruction and modification by 
hurricanes, agriculture and development, nonnative plant species and 
feral pigs; collection and overutilization; and predation by the rosy 
wolf snail, Gonaxis kibweziensis, and the New Guinea flatworm. The 
effects of these threats are compounded by the current low number of 
individuals and populations of E. zebrina.
Climate Change
    Our analyses under the Act include consideration of ongoing and 
projected changes in climate (see Factor E discussion for the Pacific 
sheath-tailed bat). The magnitude and intensity of the impacts of 
global climate change and increasing temperatures on western tropical 
Pacific island ecosystems currently are unknown. In addition, there are 
no climate change studies that address impacts to the specific habitats 
of E. zebrina. The scientific assessment completed by the Pacific 
Science Climate Science Program (Australian BOM and CSIRO 2011, Vol. 1 
and Vol. 2) provides general projections or trends for predicted 
changes in climate and associated changes in ambient temperature, 
precipitation, hurricanes, and sea level rise for countries in the 
western tropical Pacific region including Samoa (used as a proxy for 
American Samoa) (see Factor E discussion for the Pacific sheath-tailed 
bat for additional discussion).
    Although we do not have specific information on the impacts of the 
effects of climate change to E. zebrina, increased ambient temperature 
and precipitation and increased severity of hurricanes would likely 
exacerbate other threats to this species as well as provide additional 
stresses on its habitat. The probability of species extinction as a 
result of climate change impacts increases when its range is 
restricted, habitat decreases, and numbers of populations decline (IPCC 
2007, p. 48). Eua zebrina is limited by its restricted range in small 
areas on two islands and small total population size. Therefore, we 
expect this species to be particularly vulnerable to environmental 
impacts of climate change and subsequent impacts to its habitat. Based 
on the above information, we conclude that habitat impacts resulting 
from the effects of climate change are not a current threat but are 
likely to become a threat to E. zebrina in the future.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Other Natural or Manmade Factors 
Affecting Its Continued Existence
    We are unaware of any conservation actions planned or implemented 
at this time to abate the threats of hurricanes and low numbers of 
individuals that negatively impact E. zebrina.
Proposed Determination for Eua zebrina
    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to E. zebrina. This endemic partulid tree snail restricted to the 
islands of Tutuila and Ofu in American Samoa has declined dramatically 
in abundance and is expected to continue along this declining trend in 
the future.
    The threat of habitat destruction and modification from agriculture 
and development, nonnative plant species, and feral pigs is occurring 
throughout the range of E. zebrina, and is not likely to be reduced in 
the future (Factor A). The threat of overutilization for scientific and 
commercial purposes has likely contributed to the historical decline of 
E. zebrina, is a current threat to the species, and is likely to 
continue into the future (Factor B). The threat of predation from 
nonnative snails, a nonnative predatory flatworm, and rats is of the 
highest magnitude, and likely to continue in the future (Factor C). 
Current Territorial wildlife laws do not address the threats to the 
species (Factor D). Additionally, the low numbers of individuals and 
populations of E.

[[Page 61601]]

zebrina are likely to continue (Factor E), and these small isolated 
populations face increased risk of extinction from stochastic events 
such as hurricanes. Small population threats are compounded by the 
threats of habitat destruction and modification, overutilization, 
predation, and regulatory mechanisms that do not address the threats to 
the species. These factors pose threats to E. zebrina whether we 
consider their effects individually or cumulatively.
    The Act defines an endangered species as any species that is ``in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range'' and a threatened species as any species ``that is likely to 
become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range 
within the foreseeable future.'' We find that Eua zebrina is presently 
in danger of extinction throughout its entire range based on the 
severity and immediacy of the ongoing and projected threats described 
above. The loss and degradation of its habitat, predation by nonnative 
snails and flatworms, small number of individuals, limited 
distribution, the effects of small population size, and stochastic 
events such as hurricanes render this species in its entirety highly 
susceptible to extinction as a consequence of these imminent threats.
    Therefore, on the basis of the best available scientific and 
commercial information, we propose listing Eua zebrina as endangered in 
accordance with sections 3(6) and 4(a)(1) of the Act. We find that a 
threatened species status is not appropriate for Eua zebrina because 
the threats are occurring rangewide and are not localized, and because 
the threats are ongoing and expected to continue into the future.
    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may 
warrant listing if it is in danger of extinction or likely to become so 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Because we have 
determined that the snail E. zebrina is endangered throughout all of 
its range, no portion of its range can be ``significant'' for purposes 
of the definitions of ``endangered species'' and ``threatened 
species.'' See the Final Policy on Interpretation of the Phrase 
``Significant Portion of Its Range'' in the Endangered Species Act's 
Definitions of ``Endangered Species'' and ``Threatened Species'' (79 FR 
37577, July 1, 2014).

Ostodes strigatus

    Ostodes strigatus, a light tan- to cream-colored tropical ground-
dwelling snail in the family Poteriidae, is endemic to the island of 
Tutuila in American Samoa (Girardi 1978, pp. 193, 214; Miller 1993, p. 
7). Ostodes strigatus is a member of the superfamily Cyclophoroidea and 
the family Poteriidae (= Neocyclotidae) (Cowie 1998, p. 24; Girardi 
1978, p. 192; Vaught 1989, p. 16; ITIS 2015c). The family Poteriidae 
consists of tropical land snails throughout Central America, the 
northern end of South America, and the South Pacific. The genus Ostodes 
is endemic to the Samoan archipelago (Girardi 1978, pp. 191, 242). The 
defining characteristics of species within the family Poteriidae 
include a pallium cavity (lung-like organ) and an operculum (a shell 
lid or ``trap door'' used to close the shell aperture when the snail 
withdraws inward, most commonly found in marine snails) (Girardi 1978, 
pp. 214, 222-;224; Vaught 1989, p. 16; Barker 2001, pp. 15, 25).
    Ostodes strigatus has a white, turbinate (depressed conical) shell 
with 4 to 5 whorls and distinctive parallel ridges, reaching a size of 
0.3 to 0.4 in (7 to 11 mm) in height, 0.4 to 0.5 in (9 to 12 mm) in 
diameter at maturity (Girardi 1978, pp. 222-223; Abbott 1989, p. 43). 
Its operculum is acutely concave to cone-shaped, with broad, irregular 
spirals from center to edge (Girardi 1978, pp. 198, 213, 222-224). True 
radial patterning is seldom found on the upper shell surface, and never 
on the ventral surface, which is usually entirely smooth (Girardi 1978, 
p. 223).
    Ostodes strigatus is found on the ground in rocky areas under 
relatively closed canopy with sparse understory plant coverage at 
elevations below 1,280 ft (390 m) (Girardi 1978, p. 224; Miller 1993, 
pp. 13, 15, 23, 24, 27). Moisture supply is the principal environmental 
influence on Ostodes land snails (Girardi 1978, p. 245). The degree of 
moisture retention is controlled primarily by vegetation cover, with 
heavy forest retaining moisture at ground level longer than open forest 
or cleared areas (Girardi 1978, p. 245). Ostodes species were collected 
only in areas with heavy tree cover (Solem pers. comm. in Girardi 1978, 
p. 245), but the relative importance of rainfall and soil type in 
maintaining moisture supply was not assessed in these areas (Girardi 
1978, p. 245). Nevertheless, relatively closed canopy or heavy tree 
cover and their roles in maintaining moisture supply appears to be an 
important habitat factor for O. strigatus.
    Although the biology of the genus Ostodes is not well studied, and, 
therefore, the exact diet is unknown, it is highly probable that O. 
strigatus feeds at least in part on decaying leaf litter and fungus 
(Girardi 1978, p. 242; Miller 2014, pers. comm.). The approximate age 
at which these snails reach full sexual maturity is unknown (Girardi 
1978, p. 194). Once they reach maturity and can successfully reproduce, 
it is likely adult snails deposit their eggs into leaf litter where 
they develop and hatch.
    Ostodes strigatus is known only from the western portion of the 
island of Tutuila in American Samoa, including the center and southeast 
edge of the central plateau, and the extreme southern coast and 
mountain slope near Pago Pago, with an elevation range of 60 to 390 m 
(197 to 1,280 ft) (Girardi 1978, p. 224; B. P. Bishop Museum 2015, in 
litt.). Until 1975, O. strigatus was considered widespread and common, 
but has since declined significantly (Miller 1993, p. 15; Cowie 2001, 
p. 215). In 1992, a survey of nine sites on Tutuila reported several 
live individuals (and abundant empty shells) from a single site on the 
western end of the island (Maloata Valley) and only shells (no live 
individuals) at three sites in the central part of the island (Miller 
1993, pp. 23-27). At each of the four sites where live O. strigatus or 
empty shells were found, the predatory rosy wolf snail was common or 
abundant (Miller 1993, p. 23). In 1998, surveys within the newly 
established National Park of American Samoa (NPAS) on northern Tutuila 
did not detect any live O. strigatus or shells (Cowie and Cook 2001, 
pp. 143-159); however, Cowie and Cook (1999, p. 24) note that these 
areas were likely outside the range of O. strigatus. We are unaware of 
any surveys conducted since 1998; however, local field biologists that 
frequent the forest above Maloata Valley for other biological field 
work report they have not seen O. strigatus (Miles 2015c, in litt.).

Summary of Factors Affecting Ostodes strigatus

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

    The threats of nonnative plants, agriculture and development, and 
feral pigs negatively impact the habitat of Ostodes strigatus in a 
manner similar to that described for Eua zebrina (see Factor A 
discussion for Eua zebrina above). In summary, based on the best 
available, scientific and commercial information, we consider the 
threats of destruction, modification, and curtailment of the species 
habitat and range to be significant ongoing threats to Ostodes 
strigatus. The decline of the native land snails in American Samoa has 
resulted, in part, from the loss of native habitat to agriculture and 
development, impacts to native forest structure from hurricanes, the

[[Page 61602]]

establishment of nonnative plant species, and disturbance by feral 
pigs; these threats are ongoing and moderate in magnitude. All of the 
above threats are ongoing and interact to exacerbate the negative 
impacts and increase the vulnerability of extinction of O. strigatus.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Habitat Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Range
    Several programs and partnerships to address the threat of habitat 
modification by nonnative plant species and feral pigs have been 
established and are ongoing within areas that provide habitat for O. 
strigatus (see Factor A discussion for the mao). In addition, 
approximately 2,533 ac (1,025 ha) of forested habitat within the 
Tutuila Unit of the NPSA are protected and managed under a 50-year 
lease agreement with the American Samoa Government and multiple 
villages within a portion of the range of O. strigatus (NPSA Lease 
Agreement 1993).

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    Collection of land snail shells for commercial, scientific, 
recreational, or educational purposes has had a moderate influence in 
the decline of Ostodes strigatus (see Factor B discussion for Eua 
zebrina). In the past, O. strigatus was collected for basic scientific 
purposes such as identification and classification (Girardi 1978, pp. 
193-194; B. P. Bishop Museum 2015, in litt.). Currently, low numbers 
and awareness of its decline make collection for scientific or 
educational purposes unlikely, but the rarity of O. strigatus does not 
preclude collection for commercial purposes. In summary, based on the 
best available scientific and commercial information, we do not 
consider the overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, 
or educational purposes to be a current threat to O. strigatus because, 
although collection may occur, there is no evidence of commercial trade 
in the species at the present time.

C. Disease or Predation

Disease
    We are not aware of any threats to Ostodes strigatus that would be 
attributable to disease.
Predation by Nonnative Snails
    The nonnative rosy wolf snail is widespread on Tutuila and has been 
shown to contribute to the decline and extinction of native land snails 
(see Factor C discussion for Eua zebrina). Several live individuals and 
numerous shells of the rosy wolf snail were found in the same sites in 
which live individuals (one site) and numerous shells (three sites) of 
O. strigatus were found (Miller 1993, pp. 23-27). Due to its widespread 
presence on Tutuila, predation by the rosy wolf snail is considered a 
threat to O. strigatus.
    Predation by several other nonnative carnivorous snails, Gonaxis 
kibweziensis, Streptostele musaecola, and Gulella bicolor, has been 
suggested as a potential threat to O. strigatus and other native land 
snails (see Factor C discussion for Eua zebrina). Despite the lack of 
current information on the abundance of G. kibweziensis, but because of 
its predatory nature and the declining trend and small remaining 
populations of O. strigatus, we consider the predation by G. 
kibweziensis to be a threat to O. strigatus. Because of their 
previously observed low abundance, comparatively small size, and lack 
of specific information regarding impacts to O. strigatus, we do not 
consider predation by G. bicolor or S. musaecola as threats to O. 
strigatus that will continue in the future. In summary, predation by 
nonnative snails, especially the rosy wolf snail, is a current threat 
to O. strigatus and will continue into the future.
Predation by New Guinea or Snail-Eating Flatworm
    The nonnative New Guinea or snail-eating flatworm has been the 
cause of decline and extinction of native land snails (see Factor C 
discussion for Eua zebrina). This predatory flatworm is found on 
Tutuila. The ground-dwelling habit of O. strigatus and its occurrence 
in the leaf litter places O. strigatus at a greater risk of exposure to 
the threat of predation by this terrestrial predator. In summary, 
predation by P. manokwari is considered a threat to O. strigatus that 
will continue in the future.
Predation by Rats
    Rats are known to prey upon endemic land snails and can devastate 
populations (see Factor C discussion for Eua zebrina). Three rat 
species are present in American Samoa and frequent evidence of 
predation by rats on the shells of native land snails was reported 
during surveys (Miller 1993, p. 16; Cowie and Cook 2001; p. 47). In 
summary, based on the presence of rats on Tutuila and evidence that 
they prey on native snails, the threat of predation by rats is likely 
to continue and is a significant factor in the continued existence of 
Ostodes strigatus that will continue in the future.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Disease or Predation
    We are unaware of any conservation actions planned or implemented 
at this time to abate the threats of predation by rats, nonnative 
snails, or flatworms to O. strigatus.
Summary of Factor C
    In summary, based on the best available scientific and commercial 
information, we consider predation by the rosy wolf snail, the New 
Guinea flatworm, and rats to be a threat to of O. strigatus that will 
continue in the future.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The Act requires that the Secretary assess available regulatory 
mechanisms in order to determine whether existing regulatory mechanisms 
may be inadequate as designed to address threats to the species being 
evaluated (Factor D). Under this factor, we examine whether existing 
regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to address the potential threats 
to O. strigatus discussed under other factors. In determining whether 
the inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms constitutes a threat to O. 
strigatus, we analyzed the existing Federal and Territorial laws and 
regulations that may address the threats to this species or contain 
relevant protective measures. Regulatory mechanisms, if they exist, may 
preclude the need for listing if we determine that such mechanisms 
adequately address the threats to the species such that listing is not 
warranted.
    No existing Federal laws, treaties, or regulations specify 
protection of the habitat of O. strigatus from the threat of 
deforestation, or address the threat of predation by nonnative species 
such as rats, the rosy wolf snail, and the New Guinea flatworm. Some 
existing Territorial laws and regulations have the potential to afford 
O. strigatus some protection but their implementation does not achieve 
that result. The DMWR is given statutory authority to ``manage, 
protect, preserve, and perpetuate marine and wildlife resources'' and 
to promulgate rules and regulations to that end (American Samoa Code 
Annotated (ASCA), title 24, chapter 3). This agency conducts monitoring 
surveys, conservation activities, and community outreach and education 
about conservation concerns. However, to our knowledge, the DMWR has 
not used this authority to undertake conservation efforts for O. 
strigatus such as habitat protection and control of nonnative molluscs 
and rats (DMWR 2006, pp. 79-80).

[[Page 61603]]

    The Territorial Endangered Species Act provides for appointment of 
a Commission with the authority to nominate species as either 
endangered or threatened (ASCA, title 24, chapter 7). Regulations 
adopted under the Coastal Management Act (ASCA Sec.  24.0501 et seq.) 
also prohibit the taking of threatened or endangered species (ASAC 
Sec.  26.0220.I.c). However, the ASG has not listed O. strigatus as 
threatened or endangered so these regulatory mechanisms do not provide 
protection for this species.
    Under ASCA, title 24, chapter 08 (Noxious Weeds), the Territorial 
DOA has the authority to ban, confiscate, and destroy species of plants 
harmful to the agricultural economy. Similarly, under ASCA, title 24, 
chapter 06 (Quarantine), the director of DOA has the authority to 
promulgate agriculture quarantine restrictions concerning animals. 
These laws may provide some protection against the introduction of new 
nonnative species that may have negative effects on the habitat of O. 
strigatus or become predators of the species, but these regulations do 
not require any measures to control invasive nonnative plants or 
animals that already are established and proving harmful to native 
species and their habitats (DMWR 2006, p. 80) (see Factor D for the 
Pacific sheath-tailed bat, above).
    As described above, The Territorial Coastal Management Act 
establishes a land use permit (LUP) system for development projects and 
a Project Notification Review System (PNRS) for multi-agency review and 
approval of LUP applications (ASAC Sec.  26.0206). The standards and 
criteria for review of LUP applications include requirements to protect 
Special Management Areas (SMA), Unique Areas, and ``critical habitats'' 
(ASCA Sec.  24.0501 et. seq.). To date, the SMAs that have been 
designated (Pago Pago Harbor, Leone Pala, and Nuuuli Pala; ASAC Sec.  
26.0221), all are in coastal and mangrove habitats on the south shore 
of Tutuila that don't provide habitat for O. strigatus, which is known 
only from the interior western portion of the island. The only Unique 
Area designated to date is the Ottoville Rainforest (American Samoa 
Coastal Management Program 2011, p. 52), also on Tutuila's south shore, 
which hypothetically may provide habitat for O. strigatus, but it is a 
relatively small island of native forest in the middle of the heavily 
developed Tafuna Plain (Trail 1993, p. 4), far from the areas where O. 
strigatus has been recorded. These laws and regulations are designed to 
ensure that ``environmental concerns are given appropriate 
consideration,'' and include provisions and requirements that could 
address to some degree threats to native forest habitat required by O. 
strigatus, even though individual species are not named (ASAC Sec.  
26.0202 et seq.). Because the implementation of these regulations has 
been minimal and review of permits is not rigorous, issuance of permits 
may not provide the habitat protection necessary to provide for the 
conservation of O. strigatus and instead result in loss of native 
habitat important to this and other species as a result of land 
clearing for agriculture and development (DMWR 2006, p. 71). We 
conclude that the implementation of the Coastal Management Act and its 
PNRS is inadequate to address the threat of habitat destruction and 
degradation to O. strigatus (see Factor D for the Pacific sheath-tailed 
bat for further details).
Summary of Factor D
    In summary, existing Territorial laws and regulatory mechanisms 
have the potential to offer some level of protection for O. strigatus 
and its habitat but are not currently implemented in a manner that 
would do so. The DMWR has not exercised its statutory authority to 
address threats to the ground-dove such as predation by nonnative 
predators, the species is not listed pursuant to the Territorial 
Endangered Species Act, and the Coastal Management Act and its 
implementing regulations have the potential to address the threat of 
habitat loss to deforestation more substantively, but this law is 
inadequately implemented. Based on the best available information, some 
existing regulatory mechanisms have the potential to offer some 
protection of O. strigatus and its habitat, but their implementation 
does not reduce or remove threats to the species such as habitat 
destruction or modification or predation by nonnative species. For 
these reasons, we conclude that existing regulatory mechanisms do not 
address the threats to O. strigatus.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

Low Numbers of Individuals and Populations
    Species with low numbers of individuals, restricted distributions, 
and small, isolated populations are often more susceptible to 
extinction as a result of reduced levels of genetic variation, 
inbreeding depression, reproduced reproductive vigor, random 
demographic fluctuations, and natural catastrophes such as hurricanes 
(see Factor E discussion for Eua zebrina, above). The problems 
associated with small occurrence size and vulnerability to random 
demographic fluctuations or natural catastrophes such as severe storms 
or hurricanes are further magnified by interactions with other threats, 
such as those discussed above (see Factor A, Factor B, and Factor C, 
above).
    We consider O. strigatus to be vulnerable to extinction due to 
impacts associated with low numbers of individuals and low numbers of 
populations because this species has suffered a serious decline in 
numbers and has not been observed in recent years (Miller 1993, pp. 23-
27). Threats to O. strigatus include: Habitat destruction and 
modification by hurricanes, agriculture and development, nonnative 
plant species and feral pigs; and predation by the rosy wolf snail, 
Gonaxis kibweziensis, and the New Guinea flatworm. The effects of these 
threats are compounded by the current low number of individuals and 
populations of O. strigatus.
Climate Change
    We do not have specific information on the impacts of the effects 
of climate change to O. strigatus, and our evaluation of the impacts of 
climate change to this species is the same as that for E. zebrina, 
above (and see Factor E discussion for the Pacific sheath-tailed bat). 
Increased ambient temperature and precipitation and increased severity 
of hurricanes would likely exacerbate other threats to this species as 
well as provide additional stresses on its habitat. The probability of 
species extinction as a result of climate change impacts increases when 
its range is restricted, habitat decreases, and numbers of populations 
decline (IPCC 2007, p. 48). Ostodes strigatus is limited by its 
restricted range in one portion of Tutuila and small population size. 
Therefore, we expect this species to be particularly vulnerable to 
environmental impacts of climate change and subsequent impacts to its 
habitat. We conclude that habitat impacts resulting from the effects of 
climate change are not a current threat but are likely to become a 
threat to O. strigatus in the future (see Factor E discussion for E. 
zebrina, above).
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Other Natural or Manmade Factors 
Affecting Its Continued Existence
    We are unaware of any conservation actions planned or implemented 
at this time to abate the threats of hurricanes and low numbers of 
individuals that negatively impact O. strigatus.

[[Page 61604]]

Proposed Determination for Ostodes strigatus
    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to Ostodes strigatus. Observations of live individuals at a single 
location on western Tutuila more than 20 years ago suggest that this 
species has undergone a significant reduction in its range and numbers.
    The threat of habitat destruction and modification from agriculture 
and development, hurricanes, nonnative plant species, and feral pigs is 
occurring throughout the range of O. strigatus and is not likely to be 
reduced in the future. The impacts from these threats are cumulatively 
of high magnitude (Factor A). The threat of predation from nonnative 
snails, rats, and the nonnative predatory flatworm is of the highest 
magnitude, and likely to continue in the future (Factor C). Current 
Territorial wildlife laws do not address the threats to the species 
(Factor D). Additionally, the low numbers of individuals and 
populations of O. strigatus, i.e., the possible occurrence of this 
species restricted to a single locality where it was observed more than 
20 years ago, is likely to continue (Factor E) and is compounded by the 
threats of habitat destruction and modification and predation. These 
factors pose threats to O. strigatus whether we consider their effects 
individually or cumulatively. These threats will continue in the 
future.
    The Act defines an endangered species as any species that is ``in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range'' and a threatened species as any species ``that is likely to 
become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range 
within the foreseeable future.'' We find that Ostodes strigatus is 
presently in danger of extinction throughout its entire range based on 
the severity and immediacy of the ongoing and projected threats 
described above. The loss and degradation of its habitat, predation by 
nonnative snails and flatworms, small number of individuals, limited 
distribution, the effects of small population size, and stochastic 
events such as hurricanes render this species in its entirety highly 
susceptible to extinction as a consequence of these imminent threats.
    Therefore, on the basis of the best available scientific and 
commercial information, we propose listing Ostodes strigatus as 
endangered in accordance with sections 3(6) and 4(a)(1) of the Act. We 
find that a threatened species status is not appropriate for O. 
strigatus because the threats are occurring rangewide and are not 
localized, and because the threats are ongoing and expected to continue 
into the future.
    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may 
warrant listing if it is endangered or threatened throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. Because we have determined that the 
snail O. strigatus is endangered throughout all of its range, no 
portion of its range can be ``significant'' for purposes of the 
definitions of ``endangered species'' and ``threatened species.'' See 
the Final Policy on Interpretation of the Phrase ``Significant Portion 
of Its Range'' in the Endangered Species Act's Definitions of 
``Endangered Species'' and ``Threatened Species'' (79 FR 37577, July 1, 
2014).

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness and 
conservation by Federal, State, Territorial, and local agencies, 
private organizations, and individuals. The Act encourages cooperation 
with the States and requires that recovery actions be carried out for 
all listed species. The protection required by Federal agencies and the 
prohibitions against certain activities are discussed, in part, below.
    The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered 
and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The 
ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of these 
listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of 
the Act. Subsection 4(f) of the Act requires the Service to develop and 
implement recovery plans for the conservation of endangered and 
threatened species. The recovery planning process involves the 
identification of actions that are necessary to halt or reverse the 
species' decline by addressing the threats to its survival and 
recovery. The goal of this process is to restore listed species to a 
point where they are secure, self-sustaining, and functioning 
components of their ecosystems.
    Recovery planning includes the development of a recovery outline 
shortly after a species is listed and preparation of a draft and final 
recovery plan. The recovery outline guides the immediate implementation 
of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to be used to 
develop a recovery plan. Revisions of the plan may be done to address 
continuing or new threats to the species, as new substantive 
information becomes available. The recovery plan identifies site-
specific management actions that set a trigger for review of the five 
factors that control whether a species remains endangered or may be 
downlisted or delisted, and methods for monitoring recovery progress. 
Recovery plans also establish a framework for agencies to coordinate 
their recovery efforts and provide estimates of the cost of 
implementing recovery tasks. Recovery teams (composed of species 
experts, Federal and State agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and 
stakeholders) are often established to develop recovery plans. When 
completed, the recovery outline, draft recovery plan, and the final 
recovery plan will be available on our Web site (http://www.fws.gov/endangered), or from our Pacific Islands Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT).
    Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the 
participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal 
agencies, States, Tribes, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, 
and private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat 
restoration (e.g., restoration of native vegetation), research, captive 
propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The 
recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on 
Federal lands because their range may occur primarily or solely on non-
Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species requires 
cooperative conservation efforts on all lands.
    If these species are listed, funding for recovery actions will be 
available from a variety of sources, including Federal budgets, State 
programs, and cost share grants for non-Federal landowners, the 
academic community, and nongovernmental organizations. In addition, 
pursuant to section 6 of the Act, U.S. Territory of American Samoa 
would be eligible for Federal funds to implement management actions 
that promote the protection or recovery of these species. Information 
on our grant programs that are available to aid species recovery can be 
found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants.
    Although these species are only proposed for listing under the Act 
at this time, please let us know if you are interested in participating 
in recovery efforts for these species. Additionally, we invite you to 
submit any new information on these species whenever it becomes 
available and any information you may have for recovery

[[Page 61605]]

planning purposes (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Regulatory Provisions

    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their 
actions with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as an 
endangered or threatened species and with respect to its critical 
habitat, if any is designated. Regulations implementing this 
interagency cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR 
part 402. Section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to 
confer with the Service on any action that is likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of a species proposed for listing or result in 
destruction or adverse modification of proposed critical habitat. If a 
species is listed subsequently, section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires 
Federal agencies to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or 
carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the 
species or destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. If a 
Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the 
responsible Federal agency must enter into consultation with the 
Service.
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all endangered 
wildlife. The prohibitions of section 9(a)(1) of the Act, codified at 
50 CFR 17.21 for endangered wildlife, in part, make it illegal for any 
person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to take 
(includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 
capture, or collect; or to attempt any of these) any such species 
within the United States or the territorial sea of the United States or 
upon the high seas; to import into or export from the United States any 
such species; to deliver, receive, carry, transport, or ship in 
interstate or foreign commerce, by any means whatsoever and in the 
course of commercial activity any such species; or sell or offer for 
sale in interstate or foreign commerce any such species. In addition, 
prohibitions of section 9(a)(1) of the Act make it unlawful to possess, 
sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship, by any means whatsoever, any 
such species taken in violation of the Act. Certain exceptions apply to 
agents of the Service and State conservation agencies.
    We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving endangered and threatened wildlife species under certain 
circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 
17.22 for endangered species. With regard to endangered wildlife, a 
permit may be issued for the following purposes: for scientific 
purposes, to enhance the propagation or survival of the species, or for 
incidental take in connection with otherwise lawful activities. 
Requests for copies of the regulations regarding listed species and 
inquiries about prohibitions and permits may be addressed to U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Pacific Region, Ecological Services, Eastside 
Federal Complex, 911 NE. 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232-4181 
(telephone 503-231-6131; facsimile 503-231-6243).
    It is our policy, as published in the Federal Register on July 1, 
1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable at 
the time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not 
constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this 
policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of a proposed 
listing on proposed and ongoing activities within the range of species 
proposed for listing. The following activities could potentially result 
in a violation of section 9 of the Act; this list is not comprehensive:
    Activities that result in take of any of the five species in 
American Samoa by causing significant habitat modification or 
degradation such that it causes actual injury by significantly 
impairing essential behaviors. This may include, but is not limited to, 
introduction of nonnative species in American Samoa that compete with 
or prey upon the species or the unauthorized release in the territory 
of biological control agents that attack any life-stage of these 
species.
    Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a 
violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the Pacific 
Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). 
Requests for copies of the regulations concerning listed animals and 
general inquiries regarding prohibitions and permits may be addressed 
to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Region, Ecological 
Services, Endangered Species Permits, Eastside Federal Complex, 911 NE. 
11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232-4181 (telephone 503-231-6131; facsimile 
503-231-6243).

Critical Habitat

    Section 3(5)(A) of the Act defines critical habitat as (i) the 
specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species, at 
the time it is listed . . . on which are found those physical or 
biological features (I) essential to the conservation of the species 
and (II) which may require special management considerations or 
protection; and (ii) specific areas outside the geographical area 
occupied by the species at the time it is listed upon a determination 
by the Secretary that such areas are essential for the conservation of 
the species. Section 3(3) of the Act defines conservation as to use and 
the use of all methods and procedures which are necessary to bring any 
endangered species or threatened species to the point at which the 
measures provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary.
    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing 
regulations (50 CFR 424.12), require that, to the maximum extent 
prudent and determinable, the Secretary will designate critical habitat 
at the time the species is determined to be an endangered or threatened 
species. Our regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)) state that the 
designation of critical habitat is not prudent when one or both of the 
following situations exist:
    (1) The species is threatened by taking or other human activity, 
and identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the 
degree of threat to the species, or
    (2) Such designation of critical habitat would not be beneficial to 
the species.
    Besides the potential for unpermitted collection of the snails Eua 
zebrina and Ostodes strigatus by hobbyists, we do not know of any 
imminent threat of take attributed to collection or vandalism under 
Factor B for these plant and animal species. The available information 
does not indicate that identification and mapping of critical habitat 
is likely to increase the threat of collection for the snails or 
initiate any threat of collection or vandalism for any of the other 
four species proposed for listing in this rule. Therefore, in the 
absence of finding that the designation of critical habitat would 
increase threats to a species, if there are any benefits to a critical 
habitat designation, a finding that designation is prudent is 
warranted. Here, the potential benefits of designation include: (1) 
Triggering consultation under section 7 of the Act, in new areas for 
actions in which there may be a Federal nexus where it would not 
otherwise occur because, for example, it is unoccupied; (2) focusing 
conservation activities on the most essential features and areas; (3) 
providing educational benefits to State or county governments or 
private entities; and (4) preventing people from causing inadvertent 
harm to these species.
    Because we have determined that the designation of critical habitat 
will not likely increase the degree of threat to the species and may 
provide some measure of benefit, we determine that

[[Page 61606]]

designation of critical habitat is prudent for all five species 
proposed for listing in this rule.
    Our regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(2)) further state that critical 
habitat is not determinable when one or both of the following 
situations exists: (1) Information sufficient to perform required 
analysis of the impacts of the designation is lacking; or (2) the 
biological needs of the species are not sufficiently well known to 
permit identification of an area as critical habitat.
    Delineation of critical habitat requires, within the geographical 
area occupied by the species, identification of the physical or 
biological features essential to the species' conservation. Information 
regarding these five species' life functions is complex, and complete 
data are lacking for most of them. We require additional time to 
analyze the best available scientific data in order to identify 
specific areas appropriate for critical habitat designation and to 
prepare and process a proposed rule. Accordingly, we find designation 
of critical habitat for these species in accordance with section 
4(3)(A) of the Act to be ``not determinable'' at this time.

Required Determinations

Clarity of the Rule

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the 
Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain 
language. This means that each rule we publish must:
    (1) Be logically organized;
    (2) Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    (3) Use clear language rather than jargon;
    (4) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    (5) Use lists and tables wherever possible.
    If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us 
comments by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. To better help us 
revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as possible. For 
example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections or paragraphs 
that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences are too long, 
the sections where you feel lists or tables would be useful, etc.

National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.)

    We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental 
impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), need not be 
prepared in connection with listing a species as an endangered or 
threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. We published a 
notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal 
Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available 
on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the 
Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this proposed rule are the staff members of 
the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter 
I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below:

PART 17--[AMENDED]

0
1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 1531-1544; 4201-4245 unless 
otherwise noted.
0
2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h), the List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife, as follows:
0
a. By adding an entry for: ``Bat, Pacific sheath-tailed (South Pacific 
subspecies)'' (Emballonura semicaudata semicaudata), in alphabetical 
order under MAMMALS, to read as set forth below; and
0
b. By adding an entry for ``Ground-dove, Friendly (American Samoa 
DPS)'' (Gallicolumba stairi), and ``Mao (honeyeater)'' (Gymnomyza 
samoensis), in alphabetical order under BIRDS, to read as set forth 
below; and
0
c. By adding an entry for Eua zebrina and Ostodes strigatus, in 
alphabetical order under SNAILS, to read as set forth below:


Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                           Species                                                      Vertebrate population
--------------------------------------------------------------     Historic range        where endangered or    Status     When     Critical    Special
             Common name                  Scientific name                                    threatened                   listed     habitat     rules
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
               Mammals
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Bat, Pacific sheath-tailed (South     Emballonura semicaudata  U.S.A. (AS), Fiji,      Entire................        E                    NA         NA
 Pacific subspecies) (= Peapea vai,    semicaudata.             Tonga, Vanuatu.
 American Samoa; =Tagiti, Samoa; =
 Bekabeka, Fiji).
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
                Birds
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Ground-dove, Friendly (= Tuaimeo)     Gallicolumba stairi....  U.S.A. (AS)...........  American Samoa........        E                    NA         NA
 (American Samoa DPS).
 

[[Page 61607]]

 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Mao (= Maomao) (honeyeater).........  Gymnomyza samoensis....  U.S.A. (AS), Samoa....  Entire................        E                    NA         NA
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
               Snails
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Snail [no common name]..............  Eua zebrina............  U.S.A. (AS)...........  Entire................        E                    NA         NA
Snail [no common name]..............  Ostodes strigatus......  U.S.A. (AS)...........  Entire................        E                    NA         NA
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *

    Dated: Sept. 16, 2015.
James W. Kurth,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-25298 Filed 10-9-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P