Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center

Projecting and Modeling Ecosystem Change

Modeling how species respond to ecosystem change is a powerful method of forecasting future ecosystems. PIERC is currently forecasting how climate change with affect the future distribution of over 1000 species of plants and 20 species of forest birds in Hawaii. Effectively capturing species interactions is a necessary step towards the development of functional models that forecast ecosystem response.
Filter Total Items: 13
Date published: June 6, 2018
Status: Active

Using Plant Physiologic Responses to Environmental Conditions to Improve Species and Habitat Management in Hawaii

Recent studies show that past and ongoing environmental changes have been substantial and have likely already affected conservation efforts in Hawai‘i. Much of the state has experienced substantial drying, including decreases in mean annual precipitation since the 1920s, longer rainless periods, and decreasing stream flow. Temperatures have been increasing in Hawai‘i for the last 40 years,...

Date published: June 5, 2018
Status: Completed

Global Climate Change Impacts on Plants of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

Climate change is expected to alter the seasonal and annual patterns of rainfall and temperature in the Hawaiian Islands. Warming temperatures and altered precipitation patterns both impact ecological systems, but managing these impacts is difficult without detailed information on the magnitude and timing of these climate-related changes.

Date published: March 13, 2018
Status: Active

Climate and Management Effects on Soil Infiltration and Runoff in Hawaiian Forests

Hawai‘i's precipitation is greatest in upland areas that are typically forested. This precipitation provides water for both people and ecosystems. Precipitation can either run off and contribute to streamflow, or infiltrate into the ground and provide water for plants, base flow to streams, or recharge to aquifers. The exact routing that water takes is controlled by many factors, including the...

Date published: January 30, 2018
Status: Active

Environmental DNA (eDNA): a New Tool for Monitoring Status and Trends of Ecosystems and Taxa in Hawaii and Pacific Islands

Remote locations, rugged topography, extreme weather conditions, high numbers of threatened and endangered taxa, and widespread degradation of native ecosystems by invasive species makes routine monitoring to determine status and trends of ecosystems and native and invasive taxa difficult and expensive in the Hawaiian Islands. There is a need to supplement existing monitoring protocols with...

Date published: January 5, 2018
Status: Active

Support to the Pacific Islands LCC

Within a context of human-mediated land cover change, invasive competitors, predators and disease, conservation biologists and practitioners are now concerned that climate change will further impact the beleaguered flora and fauna of the Pacific Islands. Across the region and elsewhere, to determine these potential impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems, research efforts have...

Date published: January 4, 2018
Status: Completed

Expanding a Dynamic Model of Species Vulnerability to Climate Change for Hawai‘i and Other Pacific Island Ecosystems

Initial studies suggest terrestrial Hawaiian plant species may be vulnerable to climate change. However, these models lack information on species-specific traits that affect ecological and evolutionary responses of species to climate change. Research is needed to refine current vulnerability models and apply these to Pacific Islands outside Hawai‘i.

Date published: December 27, 2017
Status: Completed

Adaptation in Montane Plants

Montane plant communities in widely separated intact natural environments of the world have responded to changes in precipitation and temperature regimes by shifting both margins and core distributional ranges upward in elevation.  Reduced evapotranspiration rates in cooler climate zones at higher elevation may compensate for less precipitation and higher temperatures within species’ former...

Date published: June 27, 2017

Hawai‘i Carbon Storage and Greenhouse Gas Flux Assessment

In recent years, the U.S. Geological Survey has been conducting a national biologic carbon sequestration assessment in the conterminous U.S.  The assessment is designed to meet the requirements of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which calls for coverage of all 50 states and all ecosystems (including forests, grasslands, wetlands, agricultural lands, and rivers, lakes, and...

Date published: July 7, 2016
Status: Active

Impact of Sea-Level Rise on Coastal Plants and Cultural Sites

One of the impacts of global climate change for the Hawaiian Islands is a projected increase in sea level of about one meter by the year 2100. This change will impact both biological and cultural resources located along the coastline. Few intact native coastal and lowland plant communities remain in Hawai‘i. Many of those that remain contain listed endangered species and provide important...

Date published: July 5, 2016
Status: Active

Monitoring Hawaiian Biodiversity: Changes to forest birds and their habitat

Hawaiian forests are beset by many stressors, resulting in a complex pattern of altered ecosystems, impeirled species, and (in some areas) substantial protection and restoration. Short-term studies focused on specific sites or biota have limited value in understanding landscape-level change. Long-term and spatialy extensive data are needed to understand how ecosystems are reacting to both...

Date published: May 13, 2016
Status: Completed

Cloud Water Interception in Hawai‘i

Because of the extreme climate gradients in Hawai‘i, relatively small shifts in atmospheric circulation can cause major changes in rainfall, cloud cover, and humidity.  Because it has been shown that cloud water forms an important input at specific sites, we need to understand how these inputs vary across the landscape, or how interactions with plant communities alter direct inputs. Such...

Date published: May 11, 2016


•Resurvey selected HFBS transects on the island of Hawai‘i

•Use original sampling methods to assess bird and plant populations

•Analyze distribution and abundance changes for both native and alien species