The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded Advanced BioConsulting a series of competitive grants supporting a partnership to re-establish a population of the Northeastern Beach Tiger Beetle on Sandy Hook, New Jersey. This species was once abundant across the Northeast Atlantic coast, and now the protected semi-natural beach of Sandy Hook (a historic location for this species in view of Staten Island, and Brooklyn) is among its last potential habitats. A population at this site may be the most geographically valuable location for this species, in this region, based on its current and historic distribution.
This project will translocate larval beetles from a large population at Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge (MA), with the expectation that they will pupate at Sandy Hook, and emerge as adults to re-establish a population. This work is accomplished in cooperation with many agencies, and personell including: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The National Parks Service, Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, the States of New Jersey and Massachusetts, The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the generous expertise of academics, contract-biologists, students, and volunteers.
The Northeastern Beach tiger beetle, Habroscelimorpha dorsalis dorsalis (formerly known as Cicindela d. dorsalis), thrives in the harsh, dynamic environment of New England coastal beaches. This species is voraciously predacious, both as larvae who live in the sand and as adults who use their large eyes, sharp jaws, and long legs to chase and attack prey. First described in 1817 by the famous American naturalist Thomas Say, as “On the sea beach of New Jersey; numerous.” (Say, 1817) it was subsequently seen as “abundant on open sandy seashore” (LeConte, 1857), “occurring in great swarms” (Leng, 1902), and in “immense numbers” (Fox, 1910). By the early 1970’s it was believed in danger of extinction from recreation, beach-cleaning and shoreline modification (Wilson, 1970; Stamatov, 1972; Boyd 1979; Boyd & Rust 1982; Leonard & Bell 1999). Subsequent research (Knisley et al., 1987) contributed to its listing as a Federally Threatened species in 1994 (USFWS: 1990, 1994). Currently, this species only exists in only two separately-managed populations: 1) on narrow bay-beaches in the Chesapeake Bay and 2) broad ocean-beaches in Massachusetts (USFWS 1994); and these populations are recognized to have ecological, behavioral, and genetic distinctions (Nothnagle & Simmons 1990; Vogler et al. 1993; Vogler & DeSalle 1993; Pearson & Vogler 2001; Goldstein & Desalle 2003).
Conservation efforts to re-establish populations in the late 1990s, and early 2000s resulted in the first translocation attempt for any tiger beetle, bringing over 2000 Chesapeake Bay beetle larvae to Sandy Hook, NJ (Knisley & Hill 1999). Sandy Hook is an ocean-beach located mid-way between the extant populations, and protected by the National Park Service (NPS). For this work the Chesapeake population was used as a source because of its’ large size relative to the single, small, population known in Massachusetts at that time. This translocation lead to several years of population growth on Sandy Hook, then subsequent decline, where expert surveys in 2017-2018 (performed collaboratively with USFWS & Advanced BioConsulting) confirmed the absence of H. d. dorsalis at this site (Gwiazdowski & Knisley, 2019: Unpublished report to the USFWS NJFO). The cause of this decline is uncertain but is a presumed incompatibility of bay-beetles to survive on a seasonally dynamic ocean-beach (Knisley et al. 2005).
Fortunately, a second translocation project during 2000-2003, using techniques developed for the Sandy Hook translocation, brought comparatively low numbers of larvae (<150 total) from the small Massachusetts population to Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) (Nothnagle, 2000; Davis, 2003) resulting in a current population estimate of >5-10+ thousand beetles (Kapitulik, 2012; Matthew Hillman – personal communication).
A four-year translocation project is underway using the Monomoy NWR population as an ecologically and genetically appropriate source with the goal of re-establishing the Northeastern Beach tiger beetle at Sandy Hook, New Jersey. This project has three aims: 1) Conduct consecutive larval translocations of up to 300 larvae each year during, 2020, 2021, and 2022; 2) conduct annual surveys during 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 for adults and larvae to estimate the effectiveness of the reintroductions; 3) refine and test reintroduction protocols for NBTB larvae, and present them as a model for future translocations of NBTB, and other tiger beetles.
- Boyd, H. P. 1979. “The Tiger Beetles (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae) of New Jersey, with Special Refrence to Their Ecological Relationships.”
- Boyd, H. P., and R. W. Rust. 1982. “Intraspecific and Geographic Variations in Cicindela dorsalis Say (Coleoptera:Cicindelidae).” The Coleopterists Bulletin 36 (2): 221–39.
- Davis, C. 2003 “Summary of Northeastern Beach tiger beetle Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis Mark/Recapture 2002-2003 and Translocation 2000-2003 Monomoy|NWR Chatham. MA” Unpublished report submitted to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Concord, NH.
- Fox, H. 1910. Observations on the Cicindelidae of Northern Cape May County, N.J., during the summers of 1908-09. Entomological News 21: 75-82
- Gwiazdowski, R. A. and Knisley, C. B, 2019. “Survey report for the Northeastern Beach tiger beetle (Cicindela dorsalis), adult and larval forms, at Sandy Hook, NJ during summer and fall of 2017 & 2018.” Unpublished report submitted to the New Jersey Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Kapitulik, N. 2012. “Northeastern Beach Tiger Beetle, Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis, Monitoring of Adult Beetles at Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge And South Beach 2012”. Unpublished report, submitted to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 70 Commercial Street Concord, NH 03301 & Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge 30 Wikis Way Chatham, MA 02633
- Knisley, B. C., Luebke, J. I., Beatty, D. R. 1987. Natural History and Population Decline of the Coastal Tiger beetle, Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis Say (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae). Virginia Journal of Science. 38 (4): 293-303
- Knisley, C. B., Hill, J.M., 1999. “Translocation of the Northeastern Beach Tiger Beetle, Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis, to Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Unpublished report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service”.
- Knisley, C. B., Hill, J. M., and Scherer, A. M. 2005. “Translocation of threatened tiger beetle Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis (Coleoptera : Cicindelidae) to Sandy Hook, New Jersey.” Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 98:4 pp:552–557.
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- Leonard, J. G. and R. T. Bell. 1999. “Northeastern Tiger Beetles. A Field Guide to Tiger Beetles of New England and Eastern Canada.” CRC Press, New York.
- Nothnagle, P. 2000 “Report on Reintroduction Activities in Massachusetts for the Northeastern Beach tiger beetle, Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis, In 2000.” Prepared for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. 22 Bridge St. Concord. NH 03301
- Nothnagle P., Simmons T. (1990) Ecology of the Northeastern beach tiger beetle Cicindela d. dorsalis in southeastern Massachusetts. Unpublished report to Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (MNHESP).
- Say, T. 1817. Descriptions of several new species of North American Insects.
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- Stamatov, J. 1972. “Cicindela dorsalis Say Endangered on Northern Atlantic Coast.” Cicindela 4 (4) p. 78.
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1990. “Determination of threatened status for the Puritan Tiger Beetle and the Northeastern Beach Tiger Beetle (55 FR 32088-32094) Final Rule.” Federal Register, 55:152 pp. 32088-32094
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1994. “Northeastern Beach Tiger Beetle, Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis, Recovery Plan.” Northeast Region 5: Hadley, Massachusetts.
- Wilson, D. A. 1970. Three subspecies of cicindelids threatened with extermination . Cicindela 2 (2): 18-20.