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Passerine bird trends at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, Hawai‘i

January 14, 2009

Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, on the Island of Hawai‘i, was established in 1985 to protect native forest birds, particularly endangered species. Management actions on the 15,400 ha refuge include removing feral ungulates from the forest and pastures, controlling invasive alien plants, reforesting pastures, and supplementing endangered plant populations. To assess effects of this habitat improvement for birds, we calculated annual density estimates from point transect surveys and examined population trends for eight native and four alien passerine bird species over the 21 years since the refuge was established (1987-2007). We examined trends using a Bayesian approach to log-linear regression. We tested for changes in bird density in three study areas: (1) a middle elevation forest that had been heavily grazed, (2) an upper elevation pasture that was reforested during the study, and (3) a lower area of relatively intact forest that was formerly lightly grazed. In the middle study area, we found that densities of Hawai‘i ‘Elepaio (Chasiempis s. sandwichensis), and the endangered ‘Akiapōlā‘au (Hemignathus munroi) and Hawai‘i Creeper (Oreomystis mana) increased, and that all other native birds showed stable trends and exhibited no evidence of declining trends as has been seen elsewhere in much of Hawai‘i. Trends for all alien birds were also stable, except that House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) density has declined. In the lower study area, Hawai‘i Creeper and Hawai‘i ‘Ākepa (Loxops c. coccineus) showed increasing trajectories, and densities have declined for the other native species. Within the reforested upper study area, densities increased for three common native species—Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi (Hemignathus virens), ‘I‘iwi (Vestiaria coccinea), and ‘Apapane (Himatione sanguinea)—and two alien species—Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonicus) and House Finch. Bird trends at the Hakalau refuge provide some of the first results of habitat improvement for forest birds in Hawai‘i. Restoring tree cover in open pasture and assisting recovery of high-quality habitat benefits both endangered and abundant native birds

Publication Year 2009
Title Passerine bird trends at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, Hawai‘i
Authors Richard J. Camp, Thane K. Pratt, P. Marcos Gorresen, John J. Jeffrey, Bethany L. Woodworth
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Series Title Technical Report
Series Number HCSU-011
Index ID 70174995
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center