Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Potential impacts of projected climate change on vegetation-management strategies in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

June 5, 2018

Climate change is expected to alter the seasonal and annual patterns of rainfall and temperature in the Hawaiian Islands. Land managers and other responsible agencies will need to know how plant-species habitats will change over the next century in order to manage these resources effectively. This issue is a major concern for resource managers at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park (HAVO), where currently managed Special Ecological Areas (SEAs) for important plant species and communities may no longer provide suitable habitats in the future as the climate changes. Expanding invasive-species distributions also may pose a threat to areas where native plants currently predominate.

The objective of this project was to combine recent climate-modeling efforts for the state of Hawai‘i with existing models of plant-species distribution in order to forecast suitable habitat ranges under future climate conditions derived from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, phase 3 (CMIP3) global circulation model that was dynamically downscaled for the Hawaiian Islands by using the Hawai‘i Regional Climate Model (HRCM). The HRCM uses the A1B emission scenario (a median future climate projection) from the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES). On the basis of this model, maps showing projected plant-species ranges were generated for four years as snapshots in time (2000, 2040, 2070, 2090) and for three different trajectories of climate change (gradual, linear, rapid) between the present and future.

We mapped probabilistic surfaces of suitable habitat for 39 plant species (both native and alien [nonnative]) identified as being of interest to HAVO resource managers. We displayed these surfaces in terms of change relative to present conditions, whether the range of a given plant species was expected to contract, expand, or remain the same in the future. Within HAVO, approximately two-thirds (18 of 29) of the modeled native plant species were projected to contract in range, whereas one-third (11 of 29) were projected to increase. Most of the HAVO SEAs were projected to lose most of the native plant species modeled. Within HAVO, all alien plant species except Lantana camara were projected to contract in range within the park; this trend was observed in most SEAs, including those at low, middle, and high elevations. Congruence was good in the “current” (2000) distribution of plant-species richness and SEA configurations; however, the congruence between species-richness hotspots and SEAs diminished by the projected “end-of-century” (2090) distribution. Over time, the projected species-richness hotspots increasingly occurred outside of the currently configured SEA boundaries.

Publication Year 2018
Title Potential impacts of projected climate change on vegetation-management strategies in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park
DOI 10.3133/sir20185012
Authors Richard J. Camp, S. Paul Berkowitz, Kevin W. Brink, James D. Jacobi, Rhonda Loh, Jonathan Price, Lucas B. Fortini
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2018-5012
Index ID sir20185012
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Islands Climate Science Center