Eben Paxton, Ph.D.
Ph.D. 2008 Biology, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ
M.S. 2000 Biology, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ
B.S. 1991 Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA
Specialty: Avian ecology and conservation, demographic modeling, conservation genetics
Research Interests: My research focuses on understanding factors that affect population dynamics – why populations increase or decline over time – and through an understanding of the “why” populations change in size provide natural resource managers information on “how” to maintain healthy populations. My research has focused mainly on birds, mostly endangered species, using field research, modeling, and genetic research to understand population dynamics and identify possible conservation actions to help imperiled populations. My work in Hawai‘i is focused on the native Hawaiian forest birds.
Personal Interests: Hunting, fishing, and lounging at the beach
Science and Products
Many of Hawai‘i’s forest birds have shown significant declines in the past 200 years, with many currently listed as endangered species. Multiple threats have been identified as contributing to declines, including disease, invasive species, habitat loss, and decreased survivorship and productivity by introduced predators. Demographic studies are needed to determine how the different factors effect population health and viability, and models used to determine the relative effects of different factors.
Current procedures to monitor endangered Hawaiian waterbirds: Hawaiian duck, Hawaiian coot, Hawaiian common moorhen and Hawaiian stilt – use area search and count techniques. Both of these sampling techniques provide only indices of species’ presence and relative abundance, and no estimate of sampling error. Additionally, while population counts from area searches and direct counts are usually assumed to be correlated with the true population abundance, they do not account for imperfect detection of presence which is widely known to underestimate relative abundances by some unknown amount. Thus, the census techniques currently being employed for Hawai‘i waterbirds will not provide information useful to managers who need to consider minimum viable population size, likelihood of extinction, and trends, all of which is necessary for downlisting or delisting and recovery actions.
Bird species population demographics are collected in mass quantities throughout the Pacific Islands by numerous federal, state, university, and non-profit organizations. In order to ensure these data are standardized and available to researchers throughout the region, interagency bird databases are created. These databases compile, proof, and standardize millions of records collected over the past 30 years.
A massive outbreak of the native koa looper moth has resulted in the defoliation of over 100 km² of koa forest along the windward coast of Hawai‘i Island since January 2013.
Aging and sexing guide to the forest birds of Hawai‘i Island
We banded birds in Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge from 2012 to 2016, collecting photographs of birds and making detailed observations on coloration, morphology, and molting patterns. While we believe the criteria in this guide are applicable to forest birds across Hawai’i Island, as well as on other Hawaiian islands for ‘Apapane, ‘I‘iwi, and Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi, certain characteristics such...Paxton, Eben; McLaughlin, Rachelle; Levins, Stephanie; VanderWerf, Eric; Lancaster, Nolan
Comparative demographics of a Hawaiian forest bird community
Estimates of demographic parameters such as survival and reproductive success are critical for guiding management efforts focused on species of conservation concern. Unfortunately, reliable demographic parameters are difficult to obtain for any species, but especially for rare or endangered species. Here we derived estimates of adult survival and recruitment in a community of Hawaiian forest...Guillaumet, Alban; Woodworth, Bethany L.; Camp, Richard J.; Paxton, Eben
Large-scale range collapse of Hawaiian forest birds under climate change and the need 21st century conservation options
Hawaiian forest birds serve as an ideal group to explore the extent of climate change impacts on at-risk species. Avian malaria constrains many remaining Hawaiian forest bird species to high elevations where temperatures are too cool for malaria's life cycle and its principal mosquito vector. The impact of climate change on Hawaiian forest birds has been a recent focus of Hawaiian conservation...Fortini, Lucas; Vorsino, Adam E.; Amidon, Fred A.; Paxton, Eben; Jacobi, James D.
Evaluating abundance and trends in a Hawaiian avian community using state-space analysis
Estimating population abundances and patterns of change over time are important in both ecology and conservation. Trend assessment typically entails fitting a regression to a time series of abundances to estimate population trajectory. However, changes in abundance estimates from year-to-year across time are due to both true variation in population size (process variation) and variation due to...Camp, Richard J.; Brinck, Kevin W.; Gorresen, P.M.; Paxton, Eben
Dynamics and ecological consequences of the 2013−2014 koa moth outbreak at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge.
A massive outbreak of the koa moth (Geometridea: Scotorythra paludicola) defoliated more than a third of the koa (Acacia koa) forest on Hawai‘i Island during 2013−2014. This was the largest koa moth outbreak ever recorded and the first on the island since 1953. The outbreak spread to sites distributed widely around the island between 800−2,000 m elevation and in wet rainforest to dry woodland...Banko, Paul C.; Peck, Robert W.; Yelenik, Stephanie G.; Paxton, Eben; Bonaccorso, Frank J.; Montoya-Aiona, Kristina; Foote, David
Productivity of forest birds at Hakalau Forest NWR
Hawai‘i has some of the most endangered avian species in the world, which face numerous threats from habitat loss, disease, climate change, and introduced species. This report details the results of a two-year productivity study of all forest bird species at Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge, Hawai‘i Island. We found and monitored nests from seven native species and three common non-native species...Paxton, Eben; Cummins, George C; Kendall, Steven J.