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Evaluating Population Viability and Conservation Options for The Endangered Puaiohi

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Title:Evaluating Population Viability and Conservation Options for The Endangered Puaiohi
Authors:Fantle-Lepczyk, Jean
Keywords:Economic analysis
Hawaiian forest birds
Myadestes palmeri
Population viability analysis
Small Kaua‘i thrush
Date Issued:Dec 2016
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2016]
Abstract:Evolution in the Hawaiian Islands has produced a unique assemblage of forest birds. Unfortunately, many of these species are highly endangered or extinct. Despite numerous threats and great effort aimed at saving endemic birds, we lack basic science necessary for understanding many species of concern, including the endangered puaiohi (Myadestes palmeri). Currently, the puaiohi’s breeding population is estimated at 500 birds restricted to the Alaka‘i Wilderness Preserve on Kaua‘i. Given its small population and restricted range, understanding the conditions that affect the species’ population dynamics is essential. Hence, the goals of this dissertation were to: investigate links between precipitation and temperature in the puaiohi’s range and reproductive success; represent puaiohi population dynamics under current and potential management scenarios to determine management’s potential efficacy in aiding species recovery; and, investigate which management activities might supply the most cost-effective species management. Management scenarios included rat management, habitat improvement (habitat restoration or supplemental feeding), provision of nest boxes, and translocation of an additional population to another island. Total rainfall in the previous wet season and mean rainfall during the breeding season positively correlated with most nest success variables. Female and juvenile survival most influenced puaiohi population viability, indicating that management should focus on increasing female and juvenile survival. Rat control, even at conservative levels, was the most effective method of increasing puaiohi abundance. While translocation offers hope of increasing puaiohi population and decreasing extinction risk, success depends on the conditions established at the release site. In addition, re-establishment of the puaiohi captive breeding program may be necessary to provide enough birds to translocate. Management costs over the 25 years modeled ranged from $378,701 to $245,213,905, with translocation being one of the most cost-effective means of managing puaiohi and supplemental feeding the least. Cost-efficiency of rat control varied based on scale and method, and restoration of habitat was moderately cost-effective. Findings indicate that practical, attainable management activities can increase puaiohi and bring it back from the brink of extinction. These findings provide a model for other endangered species conservation efforts.
Description:Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2016.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections: M.S. - Zoology (Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology)

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