Habitat use by the endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper (Pseudonestor xanthoprys) : effects of physiognomy and floristics

Date
2007
Authors
Stein, Valerie K.
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Abstract
Understanding how habitat affects endangered species can provide critical information to scientists and managers faced with restoring habitat. The Maui Parrotbill, one of the most endangered honeycreepers in Hawai'i, is currently restricted to the high elevation rainforests of East Maui. I conducted research on habitat use by this species in Manawainui, an area of montane rainforest under consideration for release of captive-reared parrotbill in Haleakala National Park on Maui. I sought to empirically determine how forest stand structure and composition might influence parrotbill distribution in Manawainui and how these factors might influence the suitability of this area as a potential release site for captive-reared birds. My main objectives were to quantify the effects of forest stand structure and plant composition on parrotbill habitat selection at the macrohabitat (home range) and microhabitat (foraging site) scales. I studied habitat suitability for Maui Parrotbill at 21 10-hectare sites (10 used, 11 unused) in mixed Metrosideros polymorpha-Acacia koa forest in Manawainui from February-August 2005 and January-August 2006. A combination of bird and vegetation surveys was utilized to compare vegetation parameters between used and unused areas at different spatial scales of macrohabitat and microhabitat. Parrotbill exhibited non-random habitat use at multiple spatial scales. At the macrohabitat scale, vegetation structure and composition differed significantly between used and unused areas. Parrotbill were associated with areas typified by large diameter trees and higher densities of understory, subcanopy and canopy vegetation layers. Significant indicator plants of parrotbill habitat use at the macrohabitat scale were Cheirodendron trigynum, Ilex; anomala, and Melicope spp. At the microhabitat scale, parrotbill selected foraging sites non-randomly and were most influenced by overall species composition. Birds selectively foraged on C. trigynum, Melicope spp., Acacia koa, Coprosma spp., and Rubus hawaiensis in disproportion to availability. Overall vegetation structure did not differ significantly between used and unused foraging plots, however parrotbill did selectively forage on smaller diameter trees and used the subcanopy and canopy more than expected. These data highlight the importance of diverse, well developed forest for this species and have important management and conservation implications.
Description
Thesis (M.S.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2007.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 84-98).
xii, 98 leaves, bound 29 cm
Keywords
Drepanididae -- Hawaii -- Maui, Drepanididae -- Food -- Hawaii -- Maui, Habitat surveys -- Hawaii -- Maui, Wildlife management -- Hawaii -- Maui, Endangered species -- Hawaii -- Maui, Habitat selection
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Theses for the degree of Master of Science (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Botany; no. 4257
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