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Current distribution and abundance of Kohala forest birds in Hawai‘i

December 7, 2021

The Kohala volcano is home to the most spatially isolated population of Hawaiian forest birds on Hawai‘i Island and contains one of the few native bird populations in the state that has not been monitored since the original Hawai‘i Forest Bird Survey (HFBS) in 1979. We surveyed 143 stations across 13 transects in Pu‘u ‘O ‘Umi Natural Area Reserve on Kohala from February through April 2017 and compared our results to data from the 1979 HFBS conducted at 80 stations across three transects in the same location as our study site. We detected 2806 individuals of 15 species and measured relative abundance, relative occurrence, and density for seven species. We observed changes in species densities ranging from −8.4% (Hawai‘i ‘Elepaio, Chasiempis sandwichensis) to +714% (‘I‘iwi, Drepanis coccinea). Equivalence testing showed meaningful increases in population densities for all but one species, the Hawai‘i ‘Elepaio. The increases in population densities on Kohala are in stark contrast to the widespread declines in population densities of native species elsewhere in Hawai‘i. Relative occurrence was greater in 2017 than in 1979 for all species except Hawai‘i ‘Elepaios and House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus), and relative abundance increased for all species except Hawai‘i ‘Elepaios, House Finches, and Melodious Laughing Thrushes (Garrulax canorus). We also documented the range expansion of Japanese Bush Warblers (Cettia diphone) in Kohala. Our results indicate that this spatially isolated avian community remains biologically diverse, and most population densities are increasing in the study area. Our results provide a framework for future surveys and a baseline for understanding possible changes in population and community dynamics as birds respond to climate change and avian disease on Kohala volcano.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Current distribution and abundance of Kohala forest birds in Hawai‘i
DOI 10.1111/jofo.12386
Authors Keith Burnett, Richard J. Camp, Patrick J. Hart
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Field Ornithology
Index ID 70230603
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center