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A Reassessment of Factors, Particularly Rattus rattus L., That Influenced the Decline of Endemic Forest Birds in the Hawaiian Islands

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Title: A Reassessment of Factors, Particularly Rattus rattus L., That Influenced the Decline of Endemic Forest Birds in the Hawaiian Islands
Authors: Atkinson, IAE
Issue Date: Apr 1977
Publisher: University of Hawaii Press
Citation: Atkinson IAE. 1977. A reassessment of factors, particularly Rattus rattus L., that influenced the decline of endemic forest birds in the Hawaiian Islands. Pac Sci 31(2): 109-133.
Abstract: Between 1892 and 1930, 58 percent (30 taxa) of Hawaiian
endemic forest birds either were greatly reduced or became extinct. The order
in which the islands experienced major declines of several forest birds is Oahu
(ca. 1873-1887), Hawaii (1892-1900), Mo10kai (1893-1907), Maui (1894-1901),
Kauai (after 1900), and Lanai (1926-1932). Loss of habitat, reduced
food supply, introduced avian diseases, as well as predation by man, feral cats,
mongooses, and Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) all appear to have reduced
some species of birds, but none of these factors adequately explains the accelerated
rates of decline of forest birds that occurred after 1892.
Although it has been assumed that roof rats (Rattus rattus) reached Hawaii
with the first European ships at the end of the 18th century, there is circumstantial
evidence, independent of the bird decline data, that indicates that this
rat did not arrive until after 1840, probably between 1870 and 1880. The
hypothesis is advanced that after its establishment on Oahu in the 1870s,
R. rattus spread to the remaining large islands in the group, resulting in a
stepwise accelerated decline of forest birds on each island in turn. Hawaii thus
parallels some other Pacific islands where major reductions of birds have
followed the establishment of R. rattus. The need for precautions to prevent
rats from reaching rat-free islands in the Hawaiian group is emphasized.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/1186
ISSN: 0030-8870
Appears in Collections:Pacific Science Volume 31, Number 2, 1977



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