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Seychelles Crested Groundhopper (Coptotiggia cristata)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 13056280

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 13056280) - Seychelles Crested Groundhopper - Awarded $4,160 on June 17, 2013

The IUCN SSC Grasshopper Specialist Group has been established in 2010 and coordinates conservation projects for grasshoppers, crickets, bush-crickets, stick insects and mantids throughout the world. A recent assessment of the IUCN Red List status of endemic grasshoppers on the Seychelles has shown that these species are highly threatened.However, very little is known on the ecology of most grasshoppers, bush-crickets and crickets, but this knowledge is urgently needed in order to manage their habitats.

Groundhoppers (Tetrigidae) are small grasshopper species, which are well camouflaged and often associated with damp habitats or forests. Four endemic groundhopper species occur on the Seychelles, all of which are threatened. Two of these are even Critically Endangered, the Seychelles Crested Groundhopper (Coptottigia cristata), which is only known from a single locality - and the Seychelles Wingless Groundhopper (Procytettix fusiformis), which has not been rediscovered since its original description in1909.

In July 2013 started an ecological research project on the occurrence and habitat preferences of grasshoppers, crickets and bush-crickets on Mahé (Seychelles) with a special focus on the influence of invasive plants (particularly Cinnamon). Two students (Svenja Krone and Sabrina Legner, Trier University, Department of Biogeography) focused on the habitat preferences of endemic crickets and searched for the elusive groundhopper species in the cloud forests of Mahé.

During the field study, we were unfortunately not able to rediscover the two Critically Endangered species, but we collected ecological data on several other species, which are strongly affiliated with endemic palm species. The Seychelles Palm Cricket (Metioche bolivari) seems to prefer larger palm leaves as habitat. It was mainly found at higher altitudes (up to 720 m) inside dense forest. By contrast, the Seychelles Short-Winged Cricket (Seychellesia longicercata) was found at lower altitudes (< 500 m). It mainly occurred in habitats with a smaller cover of grasses and a greater amount of leave litter and open rocks. Based upon the results of this study, habitat restoration measures will be performed in order to benefit the populations of these species.

Project 13056280 location - Seychelles, Africa