Hawaii Wildlife Ecology Lab

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 36
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    Breeding Ecology of Hawaiian Short-eared Owls (Asio flammeus sandwichensis)
    ( 2023-06-30) Melissa R Price ; Olivia Wang
    Short-eared Owls (Asio flammeus) are an appropriate study species for understanding intraspecific variations in life-history traits in raptors due to their global distribution across continental and island systems at a variety of latitudes. In Hawai‘i, little is known about the ecology of Pueo (Hawaiian Short-eared Owls, A. f. sandwichensis), but populations are thought to be in decline and are state-listed as endangered on O‘ahu. While studies of other Short-eared Owl subspecies serve as a starting point for creating conservation plans for Pueo, initial research has indicated differences in diet, habitat use, and movement ecology of Pueo versus continental Short-eared Owls. Given these differences, further regional studies from Hawai‘i are necessary to ensure management actions adequately address the needs of Pueo. In Chapter 2 of this study, I investigated the breeding ecology of Pueo using a collaborative approach to combine results from targeted nest-searching at two focal study sites on O‘ahu with incidental reports of Pueo nests across the Hawaiian Islands. In Chapter 3 I used these results to draft management recommendations to minimize disturbance to breeding Pueo. At our focal study sites, I found that Pueo select sites with greater vegetation height and density than the surrounding environment for nesting, but that these same vegetation characteristics do not necessarily correlate to increased nest survival. The diet of breeding Pueo was relatively diverse and contained more bird prey when compared to that of North American and European Short-eared Owls. However, diet did not differ significantly among breeding Pueo pairs. Across both focal study sites and incidental observations, Pueo nest initiation spanned November through July, with a peak in February and March. Pueo breeding habitat ranged from non-native dry grasslands at low-elevation to high-elevation native wet forest, showing a marked increase in breeding habitat diversity compared to North American and European Short-eared Owls. Our results establish a basis for informing Pueo conservation in Hawai‘i, including recommendations towards reducing different types of nest disturbance and data to inform spatial and temporal nest buffers. State-wide management actions must account for the expanded breeding season and diversity of breeding habitat types of Pueo.
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    ( 2023-05-16) Kaleiheana-a-Pōhaku Stormcrow ; Melissa R. Price ; Kawika B. Winter ; Noelani Puniwai
    Apex predators such as raptors play important roles in ecosystem regulation. In addition to these important roles and the charismatic nature of apex predators, apex predators often have a mirrored cultural significance for Indigenous Peoples. When their symbolic and spiritual value is so great that it affects that culture’s relationship and adaptation to the environment, they are considered Cultural Keystone Species (CKS). In addition to supporting ecosystem complexity, these species support cultural complexity regarding social identity, cultural practices, and beliefs. Pueo are the only remaining native raptor that breed across the Hawaiian archipelago, and as such play key ecological and cultural roles. In this thesis research I aimed to: (1) highlight the breadth of Indigenous Knowledge of Pueo documented in Hawaiian language newspapers and (2) identify factors influencing Pueo detectability on Hawaiʻi Island. Pueo have relationships with multiple akua (elemental forces) who play vital roles in ecosystem functionality and nutrient cycling, and have relationships with 35 species across articles, indicating our kūpuna (ancestors) understood the system stability that Pueo supported, and the functionality of the pilina (relationship) that Kānaka (Native Hawaiians) have with Pueo. Results from field surveys demonstrate that Pueo utilize every available terrestrial habitat type in Hawaiʻi, but their occupancy and detection probability are constrained by elevation and temperature respectively. On Hawaiʻi island, where Pueo co-occur with ʻIo (Buteo solitarius), we observed a potential temporal shift in their behavior. Together, the results of these chapters support the notion that Pueo are a Cultural Keystone Species and a generalist apex predator with critical cultural and ecological functions.
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    2022 O‘ahu ʻUaʻu kani Long-term Monitoring Project
    ( 2023-01-04) Melissa Price ; Jessica Idle
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    USFWS_Hawaiian Waterbirds_Annual Permit Report_2022
    ( 2023-01-31) Melissa Price ; Taylor Shimabukuro ; Jaime Botet-Rodriguez
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    Successful nesting by 2 endangered Hawaiian waterbird species in a restored Indigenous wetland agroecosystem
    ( 2022-03-01) Kristen C. Harmon, Eryn N. P. Opie, Ali‘i Miner, Iokepa Paty-Miner, Jonathan K. Kukea-Shultz, Kawika B. Winter, and Melissa R. Price
    The Hawaiian Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus knudseni) and Hawaiian Gallinule (Gallinula galeata sandvicensis) are federally endangered waterbirds endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. Both species are conservation-reliant; their population persistence is dependent on invasive predator control and removal of invasive plants that degrade habitat. We present observations of successful nesting by one Hawaiian Stilt pair and one Hawaiian Gallinule pair at a site managed within an adaptive Indigenous agroecological framework on the island of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. The Hawaiian Stilt nest, found in February 2019, contained 4 eggs and produced 3 hatchlings, 2 of which were banded and monitored after hatching. The Hawaiian Gallinule nest, found in February 2020, contained 6 eggs and produced 5 hatchlings. Although no individuals were banded from this nest, 2 adults and 2 hatchlings were continuously observed in the nesting area after the eggs hatched. Lo‘i kalo Hawaiian wetland agroecosystems centered around the cultivation of kalo (taro; Colocasia esculenta), have the potential to expand Hawaiian waterbird habitat beyond state and federal protected areas. We are aware of unpublished accounts of Hawaiian waterbirds nesting in commercially farmed lo‘i kalo, but until now, there have been no previously published accounts of native waterbirds breeding in lo‘i kalo managed as Indigenous agroecosystems.
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    First observations of Least Tern (Sternula antillarum) eggs and other breeding observations on the island of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i
    (AllenPress, 2021-08-04) Harmon, Kristen ; Phipps, Clarine ; VanderWerf, Eric ; Chagnon, Bethany ; Price, Melissa
    The Least Tern (Sternula antillarum) commonly breeds along coastal beaches and major interior rivers of North America and the Caribbean. Least Terns have been observed in Hawai‘i since the 1970s; however, few breeding attempts have been documented. Nests have been discovered on the northwestern Hawaiian island of Midway Atoll and the southeastern Hawaiian island of Hawai‘i. While nesting is thought to also occur on the islands of O‘ahu and French Frigate Shoals based on observations of juvenile Least Terns, no observations of nests had been recorded for these islands prior to this study. In this paper we describe 2 accounts of discovering Least Tern eggs in the Ki‘i Unit of the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge on O‘ahu, as well as several observations of breeding behavior in wetlands within the Pearl Harbor region of O‘ahu.
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    The role of Indigenous practices in expanding waterbird habitat in the face of rising seas
    (Elsevier, 2021-04-01) Harmon, Kristen ; Winter, Kawika ; Kurashima, Natalie ; Fletcher, Charles ; Kane, Haunani ; Price, Melissa
    In Hawai‘i, as is the case globally, sea level rise threatens the availability of suitable habitat for waterbirds and other coastal species. This study examines Hawaiian wetland agro-ecosystems (loʻi) as social-ecological systems that may meet human needs while expanding nesting habitat of endangered waterbirds, if restored under an Indigenous Resource Management paradigm. We applied spatial analysis to project: (1) the area of existing waterbird habitat likely lost to sea level rise by the end of the century (2100); and (2) the area of waterbird habitat potentially gained through restoration of lo‘i systems. Results show that, if loʻi offer similar or equivalent habitat value to Hawaiian waterbirds as conventionally managed wetlands, the restoration of loʻi would not only compensate for projected losses of wetland habitat due to sea level rise, but substantially contribute toward the recovery of endangered waterbirds that are currently habitat-limited. This study demonstrates capacity for contemporary Indigenous land management to address conservation and food-security needs in the Hawaiian Islands, as well as challenges of multi-objective land use and habitat restoration for endangered wetland-dependent fauna. This research further contributes toward a growing number of studies suggesting that Indigenous practices based on social-ecological frameworks offer potential to achieve sustainability and biodiversity goals simultaneously.
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    Cooperative breeding behaviors in the Hawaiian Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus knudseni)
    (Wiley, 2021-03-10) Dibben-Young, Arleone ; Harmon, Kristen ; Lunow-Luke, Arianna ; Idle, Jessica ; Christensen, Dain ; Price, Melissa
    Cooperative breeding, which is commonly characterized by nonbreeding individuals that assist others with reproduction, is common in avian species. However, few accounts have been reported in Charadriiformes, particularly island-nesting species. We present incidental observations of cooperative breeding behaviors in the Hawaiian Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus knudseni), an endangered subspecies of the Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus), during the 2012–2020 nesting seasons on the Hawaiian islands of O‘ahu and Moloka‘i. We describe two different behaviors that are indicative of cooperative breeding: (a) egg incubation by multiple adults; (b) helpers-at-the-nest, whereby juveniles delay dispersal and reproduction to assist parents and siblings with reproduction. These observations are the first published accounts of cooperative breeding in this subspecies and merit further investigation, as cooperative breeding may improve population viability of the endangered, endemic Hawaiian Stilt.