Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death

Science Center Objects

USGS has been involved in the response to Rapid Ohi’a Death since its detection in 2015, and is part of the multi-organizational Rapid Ohi’a Death Working Group which was formed to share information and coordinate research, resource management and outreach activities.

Rapid `Ōhi`a Death is a fungal disease of the `ōhi`a lehua tree that is native to the Hawaiian Islands. USGS scientists worked with collaborators at the USDA Agricultural Research Service to develop, test, and validate a field method to detect the fungus that causes Rapid Ohi’a Death in mature trees. This portable "Lab in a Suitcase" allows for rapid detection of the fungus and is being used by the Big Island Invasive Species Committee to detect infected trees. A full report on the methods and field application is available


Current Research

Pathways for Movement and Rate of Spread of Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death on the Island of Hawai‘i

Because this is a rapidly emerging issue with no clear guidelines for protecting native forests, our efforts will be focused on providing up-to-date information about spread of the infection, assisting resource managers to identify high risk areas for spread of the disease, and assisting resource managers monitor effectiveness of evolving management actions.


Person processing a sample using the "Lab in a Suitcase"

"Lab in a Suitcase" set up in the field to test samples for the fungus (Ceratocystis fimbriata) responsible for Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death. (Credit: Carter Atkinson, USGS. Public domain.)

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