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Twenty-five years of change in forest structure and nesting behavior of Hawaiʻi ʻelepaio

October 12, 2023

Long-term ecological studies are invaluable for detecting changes over time. Forest restoration has been a conservation priority in Hawaiʻi, where invasive species have negatively impacted native bird habitat. During 1993–1994, a study was conducted of Hawaiʻi ʻelepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis) nest site selection and forest composition in mesic montane forest along Mauna Loa Road in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. We returned to the site and repeated the methods used in the earlier study to record Hawaiʻi ʻelepaio nest site selection (tree species, tree and nest height, and tree girth [diameter at breast height, DBH]) from 2015 to 2017, and measured forest composition (tree density, relative abundance, height, and DBH) in 2019. Three times as many nests were found in ʻaʻaliʻi (Dodonaea viscosa) as in koa (Acacia koa) in both time periods. Heights of koa and ʻaʻaliʻi did not change, but their DBH increased over time. The relative height of nests in ʻaʻaliʻi trees did not change, but nests in koa were placed higher in the crown during the later study. Overall tree density increased from 1,619 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1,499–1,740) trees/ha to 2,583 (95% CI = 2,176–3,096) trees/ha. Koa relative abundance was 53% of total trees earlier and 45% later, ʻaʻaliʻi remained at 47%, and māmane (Sophora chrysophylla) increased from 0 to 8% over time. Our results indicate that changes in forest composition affect nesting behavior, but in ways that are not necessarily simple or consistent.

Publication Year 2024
Title Twenty-five years of change in forest structure and nesting behavior of Hawaiʻi ʻelepaio
DOI 10.1111/rec.14033
Authors Kelly Jaenecke, Paul C. Banko, Robert W. Peck, Zee Sarr, Nicholas Shema
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Restoration Ecology
Index ID 70254198
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center