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Population estimates and trends of three Maui Island-endemic Hawaiian Honeycreepers

June 11, 2021

Population monitoring is critical for informing the management and conservation of rare Hawaiian forest birds. In 2017, we used point-transect distance sampling methods to estimate population densities of birds on Haleakalā Volcano on east Maui island. We estimated the populations and ranges of three island-endemic Hawaiian honeycreepers, including the endangered ‘Ākohekohe (Palmeria dolei), the endangered Kiwikiu (Maui Parrotbill; Pseudonestor xanthophrys), and the Maui ʻAlauahio (Paroreomyza montana newtoni). We examined population trends back to 1980, and our 2017 density estimates were the lowest ever recorded for each species. Most concerning was the status of Kiwikiu, with a 71% decline in population since 2001 to a current population of 157 (95% CI 44–312) birds. The population of ‘Ākohekohe similarly decreased by 78% to a current population of 1768 (1193–2411) birds. For both species, population declines were due to declines in density and contraction of ranges from lower elevations. Both species are now restricted to ranges of less than 3000 ha. We surveyed ~ 91% of the range of Maui ‘Alauahio and estimated a population of 99,060 (88,502–106,954) birds, a 41% decrease since the highest estimate in 1992. Contraction of ranges to higher elevations is consistent with evidence that the impacts of avian malaria are being exacerbated by global warming trends. Our results indicate that the landscape control of either avian malaria transmission or its vector (Culex mosquitoes) will be a pre-requisite to preventing the extinction of endemic forest birds in Hawaii.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Population estimates and trends of three Maui Island-endemic Hawaiian Honeycreepers
DOI 10.1111/jofo.12364
Authors Seth Judge, Christopher C Warren, Richard J. Camp, Laura K Berthold, Hanna L Mounce, Patrick J. Hart, Ryan J. Monello
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Field Ornithology
Series Number
Index ID 70223351
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center