Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project

Hanapēpē, HI, United States

Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project

Hanapēpē, HI, United States
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Hruska J.P.,University of Kansas | Dzielski S.A.,Cornell University | Van Doren B.M.,Cornell University | Hite J.M.,Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project
Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club | Year: 2016

We surveyed the avifauna of the foothills and lowlands of the northern Serranía de Pirre, in Darién National Park, on 20-22 April and 4 June-8 July 2014. The survey was conducted in conjunction with a study of the natural history and ecology of Sapayoa Sapayoa aenigma. In total, we recorded 219 species of 43 families, including seven classed as globally Near Threatened, three as Vulnerable and one as Endangered. Notes on the natural history of 19 species are presented, including some of the first published data on the breeding biology of poorly known species such as Double-banded Greytail Xenerpestes minlosi and Slate-throated Gnatcatcher Polioptila schistaceigula. Furthermore, we include previously unpublished notes on the natural history of Sapayoa aengima. © 2016 The Authors.


Hammond R.L.,Northern Arizona University | Hammond R.L.,Prairie Research Institute | Crampton L.H.,Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project | Foster J.T.,Northern Arizona University | Foster J.T.,University of New Hampshire
Journal of Avian Biology | Year: 2016

Forests of the Hawaiian archipelago are a global hotspot for conserving avian diversity and contain among the world's most imperiled species. Demographic studies are necessary to determine primary causes of Hawaiian forest bird population declines. We conducted research on the nesting success of multiple bird families on the island of Kaua'i, allowing us to investigate the importance of factors related to breeding biology on forest bird declines at a community scale. Our study included two Hawaiian honeycreepers, 'anianiau Magumma parva and 'apapane Himatione sanguinea, a native monarch flycatcher, Kaua'i 'elepaio Chasiempis sclateri, and one introduced species, Japanese white-eye Zosterops japonicus. Data from 123 nests showed that nesting success ± SE, estimated using program MARK, was low for 'apapane (0.23 ± 0.10), but did not vary substantially among our other study species ('anianiau = 0.56 ± 0.09, Kaua'i 'elepaio = 0.63 ± 0.08, Japanese white-eye = 0.52 ± 0.11). Causes of nest loss for 51 nest failures included nest predation (43%), unknown (25%), empty after termination with no signs of nest predation (e.g. eggshell or chick remains in nest, disheveled nest) (24%), and abandoned clutch or brood (4% each). Kaua'i 'elepaio suffered more than twice as many nest losses to predation compared to our other study species, but also had the highest nesting success; and, 'apapane suffered least to nest predation, but had the lowest nesting success. Further, rates of nesting success derived in our study were relatively high compared to multi-species studies in mainland tropics. Therefore, although nest predation accounted for the greatest proportion of nest failures, it may not be a cause of forest bird population declines in our system. We suggest that future demographic studies focus on post-fledgling, juvenile, and adult survival, in addition to the importance of double-brooding and renesting attempts on annual reproductive success. Journal of Avian Biology © 2016 Nordic Society Oikos.


Behnke L.A.H.,Colorado State University | Pejchar L.,Colorado State University | Crampton L.H.,Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project
Condor | Year: 2015

Limited resources for biodiversity conservation demand strategic science-based recovery efforts, particularly on islands, which are global hotspots of both endemism and extinction. The Akikiki (Oreomystis bairdi) and the Akekee (Loxops caeruleirostris) are critically endangered honeycreepers endemic to the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Recent declines and range contraction spurred investigation of the habitat characteristics influencing range-wide occupancyof these species. We surveyed Akikiki and Akekee and habitat covariates within 5 study areas on the Alakai Plateau of Kauai along a gradient of forest conditions. Occupancy rates for both species increased from west to east along theplateau (Akikiki: ψ=0.02 6 0.07 to 0.55 6 0.21; Akekee: ψ=0.03 6 0.10 to 0.53 6 0.33), but were low throughout the ranges of both species. Canopy height was positively correlated with occupancy for both species, which suggests thedamage done by hurricanes in 1982 and 1992 may be one factor restricting these birds to the most intact forest remaining. Vegetation surveys revealed several key differences in forest composition and structure between areas, indicative of broader changes occurring across the plateau. Invasive plants such as Himalayan ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum) were dominant in the western portion of the plateau, where there was a corresponding decline innative plant cover. Conversely, ground disturbance by feral ungulates was higher in more eastern native-dominated areas. These results highlight the need to protect habitat in the regions where Akikiki and Akekee occupancy ishighest, and restore habitat in other parts of their range. These actions should occur in concert with the mitigation of other known threats to Hawaiian honeycreepers such as avian disease. Without significant investment to address thesethreats and protect suitable habitat for these species, it is unclear how long these birds will persist. © 2016 Cooper Ornithological Society.


Hammond R.L.,Northern Arizona University | Crampton L.H.,Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project | Foster J.T.,Northern Arizona University | Foster J.T.,University of New Hampshire
Condor | Year: 2015

Two forest bird species endemic to the island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Archipelago were listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2010 due to recent population declines. This research represents the first comprehensive breeding biology study of both species, the 'Akikiki or Kauai Creeper (Oreomystis bairdi) and 'Akeke'e or Akekee (Loxops caeruleirostris). The 2-year study was initiated in 2012 to determine if low nesting success may be a cause of their population declines. We monitored 20 'Akikiki and 8 'Akeke'e nests to assess basic nesting biology parameters (e.g., brood size; nest height; length of construction, incubation, and nestling periods) and to derive estimates of nesting success and investigate causes of failure. In general, 'Akikiki and 'Akeke'e breeding biology was similar to other insectivorous Hawaiian honeycreepers. Mean nest height for 'Akikiki and 'Akeke'e was high (9.2 ± 2.3 m SD and 11.1 ± 2.3 m SD, respectively) compared to most Kauai forest birds. Nesting success, calculated using program MARK, was 0.77 ± 0.12 SE for 'Akikiki and 0.71 ± 0.17 SE for 'Akeke'e. Three 'Akikiki and 2 'Akeke'e nests failed. One 'Akikiki nest failed due to nest predation and the other 2 to unknown causes. One 'Akeke'e nest failed due to poor nest attendance and the other to hatching failure. Nest sample sizes were small and should be considered with caution; however, these results suggest that low nesting success may not be a primary cause of decline in these species. Future research on both species should assess post-fledging, juvenile, and adult survival as potential causes of their populations' declines. Determining which demographic parameters currently have the largest negative impact on these populations is imperative for guiding effective management actions to conserve these species. © 2015 American Ornithologists' Union.


Glad A.,University of Hawaii at Manoa | Crampton L.H.,Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project
Journal of Vector Ecology | Year: 2015

Avian malaria is among the most important threats to native Hawaiian forest birds. It is caused by the parasite Plasmodium relictum and is transmitted by the introduced mosquito vector Culex quinquefasciatus. Temperature increases and precipitation declines due to climate change over the last decade may be responsible for the observed recent expansion in the range and prevalence of avian malaria on the Alakai Plateau, Kauai Island. To examine the hypothesis that conditions are now favorable for transmission of malaria on the Plateau, mosquitoes were sampled with CO2 and Reiter oviposition traps at three sites (Kawaikoi, Halepa'akai, and Koke'e) on several occasions between October, 2013 and April, 2014. P. relictum infection was assessed by PCR or dissection under a microscope. We also surveyed mosquito larvae along Halepa'akai and Kawaikoi streams. We observed that Cx. quinquefasciatus is well established on the Alakai Plateau, as mosquitoes were caught on all field trips, except in April at Halepa'akai, and larvae were found throughout the year. We observed differences in adult abundance among sites and microhabitats (stream vs ridge lines). © 2015 The Society for Vector Ecology.


Atkinson C.T.,U.S. Geological Survey | Utzurrum R.B.,University of Hawaii at Hilo | Lapointe D.A.,U.S. Geological Survey | Camp R.J.,University of Hawaii at Hilo | And 4 more authors.
Global Change Biology | Year: 2014

Transmission of avian malaria in the Hawaiian Islands varies across altitudinal gradients and is greatest at elevations below 1500 m where both temperature and moisture are favorable for the sole mosquito vector, Culex quinquefasciatus, and extrinsic sporogonic development of the parasite, Plasmodium relictum. Potential consequences of global warming on this system have been recognized for over a decade with concerns that increases in mean temperatures could lead to expansion of malaria into habitats where cool temperatures currently limit transmission to highly susceptible endemic forest birds. Recent declines in two endangered species on the island of Kaua'i, the 'Akikiki (Oreomystis bairdi) and 'Akeke'e (Loxops caeruleirostris), and retreat of more common native honeycreepers to the last remaining high elevation habitat on the Alaka'i Plateau suggest that predicted changes in disease transmission may be occurring. We compared prevalence of malarial infections in forest birds that were sampled at three locations on the Plateau during 1994-1997 and again during 2007-2013, and also evaluated changes in the occurrence of mosquito larvae in available aquatic habitats during the same time periods. Prevalence of infection increased significantly at the lower (1100 m, 10.3% to 28.2%), middle (1250 m, 8.4% to 12.2%), and upper ends of the Plateau (1350 m, 2.0% to 19.3%). A concurrent increase in detections of Culex larvae in aquatic habitats associated with stream margins indicates that populations of the vector are also increasing. These increases are at least in part due to local transmission because overall prevalence in Kaua'i 'Elepaio (Chasiempis sclateri), a sedentary native species, has increased from 17.2% to 27.0%. Increasing mean air temperatures, declining precipitation, and changes in streamflow that have taken place over the past 20 years are creating environmental conditions throughout major portions of the Alaka'i Plateau that support increased transmission of avian malaria. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


PubMed | University of Hawaii at Manoa and Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of vector ecology : journal of the Society for Vector Ecology | Year: 2015

Avian malaria is among the most important threats to native Hawaiian forest birds. It is caused by the parasite Plasmodium relictum and is transmitted by the introduced mosquito vector Culex quinquefasciatus. Temperature increases and precipitation declines due to climate change over the last decade may be responsible for the observed recent expansion in the range and prevalence of avian malaria on the Alakai Plateau, Kauai Island. To examine the hypothesis that conditions are now favorable for transmission of malaria on the Plateau, mosquitoes were sampled with CO2 and Reiter oviposition traps at three sites (Kawaikoi, Halepaakai, and Kokee) on several occasions between October, 2013 and April, 2014. P. relictum infection was assessed by PCR or dissection under a microscope. We also surveyed mosquito larvae along Halepaakai and Kawaikoi streams. We observed that Cx. quinquefasciatus is well established on the Alakai Plateau, as mosquitoes were caught on all field trips, except in April at Halepaakai, and larvae were found throughout the year. We observed differences in adult abundance among sites and microhabitats (stream vs ridge lines).


News Article | September 7, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

This photo taken Oct. 8, 2004, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, shows a Hawaiian honeycreeper. A new study predicts climate change will accelerate the rate of extinctions of Hawaiian honeycreepers. Warmer temperatures due to climate change increases the spread of diseases such as avian malaria in forest habitats that were once cool enough to keep mosquito-borne diseases under control, according to the research. (Jim Denny via AP) HONOLULU (AP) — Native forest birds on the Hawaiian island of Kauai are rapidly dying off and facing the threat of extinction as climate change heats up their habitat and allows mosquito-borne diseases to thrive, according to a study released Wednesday. Higher temperatures caused by global warming increase the spread of diseases such as avian malaria in wooded areas once cool enough to keep them under control, the research says. The findings are an early warning for forest birds on other islands and other species worldwide that rely on rapidly disappearing habitat, according to the study published in the journal Science Advances. Most of Hawaii's forest birds are restricted to forests in high elevations where disease has been seasonal or absent. A sharp increase in disease has occurred over a 15-year period in the upper-elevation forests of Kauai's Alakai Plateau, a highly eroded crater of an extinct volcano, the study said. "If native species linearly decline at a rate similar to or greater than that of the past decade, then multiple extinctions are likely in the next decade," it warns. Two Hawaiian honeycreeper species — akikiki and akekee — are endangered. A petition is asking for the iiwi to be listed as endangered, too, said co-author Lisa Crampton, a wildlife ecologist and conservation biologist who is also coordinator for the Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project. The authors used long-term survey data collected by state and federal biologists to document the decline of Kauai's native forest birds, along with surveys tallying the prevalence of avian diseases. Some co-authors went into the forests to count birds, while others analyzed the data, Crampton said. The scientists found an increase in mosquitoes in the birds' habitat, along with warmer temperatures in the area. Those are some of the correlations that led them to believe climate change is accelerating diseases, Crampton said. While global warming is a "prime suspect" for the precipitous decline in the birds, other factors such as non-native plants and animals are contributing to the problem, the study said. The authors describe climate change as a "tipping point" for the sensitive birds. The study is a "signal that we need to do something about global warming and mosquitoes," said Sam Ohu Gon, senior scientist and cultural adviser for the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii, which was not part of the study. It's only a matter of time before mosquito-borne diseases become commonplace in Hawaii, he said. There are also cultural reasons to care about the study, he said, explaining that Native Hawaiians view birds, plants and animals as ancestors. "If we lose these forest birds, we lose our connection to our past," she said, adding that they are also integral to Hawaii's watersheds. "Even though the situation is dire, it's not too late," she said. "It's not hopeless." State, federal and nonprofit agencies are moving to control rodents that prey on nests and fence off habitats to invasive animals such as pigs and goats, among other actions requiring public support, Crampton said. In addition, individuals' efforts to reduce their carbon footprint will go a long way. "Everything we can do to slow down the rate of climate change is going to help the birds," she said.


News Article | September 7, 2016
Site: phys.org

Higher temperatures caused by global warming increase the spread of diseases such as avian malaria in wooded areas once cool enough to keep them under control, the research says. The findings are an early warning for forest birds on other islands and other species worldwide that rely on rapidly disappearing habitat, according to the study published in the journal Science Advances. Most of Hawaii's forest birds are restricted to forests in high elevations where disease has been seasonal or absent. A sharp increase in disease has occurred over a 15-year period in the upper-elevation forests of Kauai's Alakai Plateau, a highly eroded crater of an extinct volcano, the study said. "If native species linearly decline at a rate similar to or greater than that of the past decade, then multiple extinctions are likely in the next decade," it warns. Two Hawaiian honeycreeper species—akikiki and akekee—are endangered. A petition is asking for the iiwi to be listed as endangered, too, said co-author Lisa Crampton, a wildlife ecologist and conservation biologist who is also coordinator for the Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project. The authors used long-term survey data collected by state and federal biologists to document the decline of Kauai's native forest birds, along with surveys tallying the prevalence of avian diseases. Some co-authors went into the forests to count birds, while others analyzed the data, Crampton said. The scientists found an increase in mosquitoes in the birds' habitat, along with warmer temperatures in the area. Those are some of the correlations that led them to believe climate change is accelerating diseases, Crampton said. While global warming is a "prime suspect" for the precipitous decline in the birds, other factors such as non-native plants and animals are contributing to the problem, the study said. The authors describe climate change as a "tipping point" for the sensitive birds. The study is a "signal that we need to do something about global warming and mosquitoes," said Sam Ohu Gon, senior scientist and cultural adviser for the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii, which was not part of the study. It's only a matter of time before mosquito-borne diseases become commonplace in Hawaii, he said. There are also cultural reasons to care about the study, he said, explaining that Native Hawaiians view birds, plants and animals as ancestors. "If we lose these forest birds, we lose our connection to our past," she said, adding that they are also integral to Hawaii's watersheds. "Even though the situation is dire, it's not too late," she said. "It's not hopeless." State, federal and nonprofit agencies are moving to control rodents that prey on nests and fence off habitats to invasive animals such as pigs and goats, among other actions requiring public support, Crampton said. In addition, individuals' efforts to reduce their carbon footprint will go a long way. "Everything we can do to slow down the rate of climate change is going to help the birds," she said.


News Article | November 4, 2015
Site: www.techtimes.com

Rare and unique bird species inhabiting the higher elevations of forests on the Hawaiian Islands could lose more than half of their habitat if climate changes predicted by the end of the century come to pass, researchers say. Habitat losses, along with disease and predators such as feral cats, have threatened the vulnerable species for years, driving many into smaller and smaller habitat ranges in mountain forests. They have survived there because native vegetation they need for food and protection persists, and because the cooler temperatures keep the number of disease-transmitting mosquitoes down, researchers explain. However, if climate change continues unchecked, loss of suitable habitat could affect many remaining forest bird species in Hawaii, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey say in a study appearing in PLOS ONE. Six species could lose as much as 90 percent of their current habitat range, they say. Like rare species elsewhere, Hawaiian forest birds have very specific habitat requirements and adaptations that could limit their ability to move into new ranges if their current habitats shrink. The main threat climate change could present is disease, as warming temperatures in the forests could allow mosquitoes that carry diseases such as avian malaria across to higher mountain elevations, researchers explain. Of the 113 endemic bird species that existed on the islands when humans first arrived there, 71 have gone extinct, they point out. Of the remaining 42 species, 33 are listed as endangered. The researchers made use of a bird sightings database, local climate projections combined with species distribution models to analyze the impact of predicted climate shifts on the birds' habitats. The findings highlight a strong need for new conservation efforts, researchers say. "As dire as these findings are, they do not mean that these bird species are doomed," says study lead author Lucas Fortini, a USGS research ecologist. "Instead, our findings indicate what may happen if nothing is done to address the primary drivers of decline: disease spreading uphill into the few remaining refuges." The birds are "integral to the overall health and well-being" of Hawaii's forests, says Suzanne Case, chairwoman of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. They represent the unique, interconnected and threatened nature of Hawaii's lands, she says. "We can't afford the extinction of more species," she warns. While acknowledging the threat to bird species posed by climate change, Dr. Lisa Crampton, project leader of the Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project, said she thinks the USGS study may be "overly pessimistic." "There's a lot more we can do about habitat than we can about disease," she said, citing efforts such as trapping predators, which the Kauai group is already doing.

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