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Annual variation in the distribution, abundance, and habitat response of the palila (Loxioides bailleui)

January 1, 1984

We studied the distribution, population size, and habitat response of the Palila (Loxioides bailleui) during the 1980-1984 nonbreeding seasons to infer factors that limit the population and to develop management strategies. Distribution was fairly constant from year to year. Palila were confined to the subalpine woodland on Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii, occurred between 2,000 and 2,850 m elevation, and reached highest densities on the southwest slopes. The population showed large annual fluctuations, from 6,400 birds in 1981 to 2,000 in 1984. The width of woodland was the most important variable in determining habitat response. Palila were more common in areas with greater crown cover, taller trees, and a higher proportion of native plants in the understory. Annual variation in Palila density within a habitat reflected variation in levels of their staple food, mamane pods. The main limiting factors of the population appeared to be the availability of good habitat and levels of their staple food. Palila had strongly depressed densities in the Pohakuloa flats area. This low density could not be explained by gross habitat features or food levels. Site tenacity, thermal stress, disturbance, and disease were hypothesized explanations. Our study indicated that the most effective management strategies would be the removal of feral ungulates and certain noxious plants from Palila habitat and the extension of the woodland zone to areas now intensively grazed.

Publication Year 1984
Title Annual variation in the distribution, abundance, and habitat response of the palila (Loxioides bailleui)
DOI 10.2307/4086892
Authors J. M. Scott, S. Mountainspring, Charles van Riper, C.B. Kepler, J.D. Jacobi, T.A. Burr, J.G. Giffen
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title The Auk
Index ID 5221146
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center