Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center

Understanding the Ecology of Imperiled Species

Imperiled species research is an area of key emphasis for PIERC scientists and collaborators. The Hawaiian Islands are home to 31% of the nation's plants and animals listed as Threatened or Endangered, and less than half of the landscape on the islands is still dominated by native plants. Protection and recovery of these species requires knowing the threats as well as basic biological knowledge such as habitat requirements, life history traits, and key interactions with other species.
Filter Total Items: 10
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: December 29, 2017
Status: Active

Pacific Island Bird Survey Design and Data Analysis

Abundance data are collected for bird populations throughout the Pacific Islands by numerous federal, state, university, and non-profit organizations. In order to ensure data are standardized and available to researchers throughout the region, interagency bird databases have been created and continue to be used. These databases contain more than a million compiled, proofed, and standardized...

Date published: June 27, 2017
Status: Active

Ecology and Demography of Hawaiian Forest Birds

Many of Hawai‘i’s forest birds have shown significant declines in the past 200 years, with many currently listed as endangered species. Multiple threats have been identified as contributing to declines, including disease, invasive species, habitat loss, and decreased survivorship and productivity caused by introduced predators.  Demographic and ecological studies are needed to determine how...

Date published: June 23, 2017
Status: Completed

Ecology and Distribution of the Endangered Hawaiian Hoary Bat

The Hawaiian Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus) is the only extant land mammal native to the Hawaiian archipelago. It is listed as endangered due to apparent population declines, and a lack of knowledge concerning its distribution, abundance, and habitat needs. Agencies and landowners in Hawai‘i seek to assist in the creation of sustainable uses for managed lands while also...

Date published: June 22, 2017
Status: Active

Ecology of Hawaiian Waterbirds

Loss of wetlands, invasive plants, and non-native predators pushed Hawaii’s waterbirds to the brink of extinction by the early 1900s, although population numbers have improved somewhat in recent decades with conservation efforts. Nonetheless, all Hawaiian waterbirds have global population sizes estimated around or below below 2,000 individuals, making them still highly vulnerable to extinction...

Date published: May 10, 2017
Status: Active

Disease Ecology In the Pacific Basin: Wildlife and Public Health Concerns

Both wildlife and human health in Hawai‘i and other island ecosystems in the Pacific Basin face continued threats from introductions of diseases and vectors. Accidental introduction of mosquito-borne avian malaria and pox virus to Hawai‘i is an outstanding example of how biological invasions can have a profound effect on endemic wildlife. The geographic distribution, density, and community...

Date published: May 12, 2016
Status: Completed

Movements and Demographic Factors Limiting Recovery of Endangered Koloa Maoli (Hawaiian Duck)

USGS and Oregon State University (OSU) have joined forces to support USFWS with research needed help manage and recover the endangered Hawaiian duck, locally known as koloa maoli.  Hybridization of koloa with feral Mallards on O‘ahu and Maui is believed to have resulted in complete introgression in those populations (Engilis et al. 2002), and Kaua‘i is the only island that likely supports a...

Date published: May 12, 2016
Status: Completed

Tracking Nēnē Movements Across Park Boundaries

The federally endangered nēnē, or Hawaiian Goose, once present on most of the Hawaiian Islands, was found only on Hawai‘i Island by 1900. This remnant population was reduced to as few as 30 individuals by 1952 due to the combination of unregulated hunting, introduced mammalian predators, and large-scale habitat degradation. Nēnē have been restored to a few places like Hawai‘i Volcanoes...

Date published: May 12, 2016
Status: Completed

High Elevation Cave Surveys for Bats and White Nose Syndrome

This project examined altitudinal movements of the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat and their use of high elevation caves on the slopes of Mauna Loa volcano on the island of Hawai‘i.

Date published: May 12, 2016
Status: Completed

Understanding Factors Affecting Decline of Samoan Swallowtail Butterfly

The Samoan swallowtail is a large and strikingly marked butterfly endemic to the Samoan Archipelago. Once widespread and common, its populations have declined dramatically, and it now appears restricted to the island of Tutuila, an area representing approximately 5% of its former range. There are few insects that are commonly thought of as indicators of ecosystem health, but the Samoan...