Ecology of an endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper and implications for conservation on private land

Author: Pejchar, Liba
Title: Ecology of an endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper and implications for conservation on private land
Year: 2004
Volume: Ph.D.
Pages: xi, 98 leaves
Subject: Drepanididae
Wildlife management
Endangered species
Hemignathus munroi
Acacia koa
Summary: Of the four endangered honeycreepers on the Island of Hawaii, the Akiapolaau ( Hemignathus munroi ) is the most threatened. Little is known about the life history and habitat requirements of this species; thus, implementing recovery measures is difficult. I addressed this problem with research scaling up from foraging behavior, to landscape level habitat-use, to conservation policy. I first described the Akiapolaau's unique sap-feeding behavior, a new example of convergent evolution. Sap trees were rare, had unique microhabitat characteristics, and may be a potent alternative to nectar for the Akiapolaau. Then I compared foraging behavior, home range size, and reproductive success of Akiapolaau at three sites with different disturbance histories: grazed old-growth forest, intact old-growth forest and a native Acacia koa plantation. I found that Akiapolaau foraged selectively on A. koa despite its relative scarcity in the environment. Although Akiapolaau have been considered an old-growth dependent species, in this study the A. koa plantation supported the highest density of birds with no apparent reproductive cost. Finally, I interviewed practitioners and scientists to determine the potential of growing A. koa to promote economically viable conservation on private land. Respondents expressed strong interest in A. koa forestry but cited a litany of concerns including: the economic risk associated with forestry, a lack of silviculture information for native trees, the challenge of balancing profit and wildlife, wariness of government involvement, and concerns that endangered species could prevent harvest. Overall, there is tremendous potential for conservation advocates to address these concerns and work with landowners to grow A. koa for economic benefit while also enhancing biodiversity.
Database: Monographs

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