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Divergent movement patterns of adult and juvenile ‘Akohekohe, an endangered Hawaiian Honeycreeper

November 17, 2020

The movement patterns of birds across a landscape are often highly variable and influenced by complex interactions between individuals and environments. Because periods of movement can be marked by high mortality, especially among juvenile birds, understanding these patterns may be vital for the conservation of many bird species. However, these patterns can be challenging to quantify. We used radio‐telemetry to document the movement patterns of ‘Akohekohe (Palmeria dolei), an endangered Hawaiian Honeycreeper endemic to Maui Island, Hawai'i. This species is believed to be highly susceptible to mosquito‐transmitted avian malaria (Plasmodium relictum) and only breeds in high‐elevation wet forests on the windward side of east Maui (> 1715 m) that serve as mosquito‐free refugia. Over a 2‐yr period (2013–2014), we used radio‐telemetry and resightings of color‐banded birds to track the movements of juveniles (N = 11) and adults (N = 24) and quantified home ranges with minimum convex polygons (MCP) and 95% fixed kernels (KHR). Movement patterns and home range sizes of adult and juvenile ‘Akohekohe were significantly different, with adults having relatively small home ranges (0.57 ha, MCP; 1.09 ha, KHR) and juveniles moving greater distances and having larger home ranges (25.02 ha, MCP; 90.56 ha, KHR). Only juveniles moved into lower‐elevation forests that can support mosquito populations, at least seasonally. The absence of adults in this transitional malaria zone suggests that adult ‘Akohekohe cannot maintain long‐term home ranges in areas with an increased risk of malaria infection. In addition, the long‐distance movements of juveniles during the post‐fledging, pre‐breeding period likely increases their risk of contracting avian malaria and could be a key factor limiting the population of this species.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title Divergent movement patterns of adult and juvenile ‘Akohekohe, an endangered Hawaiian Honeycreeper
DOI 10.1111/jofo.12348
Authors Alex X Wang, Eben H. Paxton, Hanna L Mounce, Paulo Marcos Gorresen
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Field Ornithology
Index ID 70218670
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center