New York has 22 documented species of tiger beetles (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae). Over half of these species are considered rare, at risk, or potentially extirpated from the state. These rare species specialize on three sandy habitat types under threat from human disturbance: beaches, pine barrens, and riparian cobble bars. In 2005, we began a status assessment of eight of New York’s rarest tiger beetles, examining museum records, searching the literature, and conducting over 130 field surveys of historical and new locations. Significant findings included (1) no detections of four of the eight taxa; (2) no vehicle-free beach habitat suitable for reintroducing Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis; (3) C. hirticollis at only 4 of 26 historical locations; (4) C. patruela patruela at only one site statewide; and (5) C. ancocisconensis at only 3 of 28 de novo survey sites. Additional species that might be declining deserve our attention, as do some threats to tiger beetle habitats, like lack of beach wilderness, fire suppression in pine barrens, and river damming. Rarity in tiger beetles is a result of varying ecologies, which suggest different conservation strategies. Future inventory and documentation of tiger beetle occurrences need to take into account the metapopulation structure and imperfect detectability of these rare insects.
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