Translocation of endangered Laysan ducks: USGS partnered with USFWS, US Coast Guard, Hawaii DLNR and Hawaii Wildlife Center to translocate 28 Laysan ducks from Midway Atoll to Kure Atoll. These critically endangered ducks, once found throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago, are the rarest duck species in the Northern Hemisphere, due in part to the arrival of invasive rats approximately 800 years ago. This landmark translocation effort marks the 10th anniversary of the Laysan duck project in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Find out more about this project here.
Invasive arthropods threaten native tree species on Rose Atoll: Systematic surveys of Rose Atoll in the Samoan Archipelago revealed a mutualistic relationship between invasive ants and scale insects. In the photo above, ants are tending the egg sacs produced by female scale insects. This relationship may be contributing to the extensive death of an ecologically important tree, Pisonia grandis. These invasive arthropods have no known natural enemies on Rose Atoll. Pisonia grandis is a key nesting habitat for seabirds. These species may be significantly impacting the structure and function of the island’s ecosystem. Read more about this project here.
Photo by J. Jeffrey
Thermal cameras reveal bat behavior at wind turbines:
Tree-roosting bats are dying in unprecedented numbers at wind turbines around the world. Infrared cameras showed many never before documented behavioral interactions between bats and wind turbines. Tree-roosting bats evolved behaviors that take advantage of the air currents created by tall trees, which allow them to actively search for roost sites, other bats, and insect prey. Bats may be attracted to the air currents created by wind turbines, but these evolved behaviors could be making the bats susceptible to wind turbine fatality. See videos and learn more about this project here.
Damselflies as indicators of ecosystem change: The Orangeblack Hawaiian Damselfly is a candidate endangered species found in the rare anchialine ("near the sea") pool habitats on the island of Hawaii. These pools are found along coastal lava flows and contain many unique aquatic species. Coastal wetlands and anchialine pools have been impacted by a wide range of stressors including coastal development, water quality and invasive species. During species monitoring, researchers found non-native Rambur's Forktail damselflies (pictured above) in habitat formerly occupied by the Orangeblack Hawaiian Damselfly. The shift in anchialine pool aquatic insect community composition may be a useful method of tracking environmental changes due to the differing habitat requirements of these species. Find out more about this project here.
Restoring degraded Hawaiian woodlands: In Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Metrosideros woodland in the seasonal submontane has been extensively degraded by the invasion of exotic grasses and wildfire. These disturbances coupled with high temperatures and low rainfall lead to high seedling mortality. Researchers from PIERC, the Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit, and University of California at Santa Barbara wanted to investigate if the use of "nurse plants" would increase seedling survival and species diversity. They found that nurse shrubs naturally recruited seedlings of their own species. In addition, planting under nurse shrubs increased growth and survival of various later successional species, offering a tool for increasing plant diversity and native cover. Learn more about PIERC restoration ecology here.