Abstract

This paper examines the use of degraded, “suburbanized”-type highland forests in east Hawai‘i (Hawai‘i Island) versus more pristine, protected forest found in Volcanoes National Park by two endemic honeycreeper species, the apapane (Himatione sanguinea) and the amakihi (Hemignathus virens). This research is important because east Hawai‘i is experiencing rapid and extensive forest clearance due to a boom in home construction that began five years ago and continues today. This forest clearance not only destroys or degrades forest ecosystems, but it also leads to the introduction of exotic, usually ornamental plant species where few existed previously. The habitat fragmentation that has resulted also appears to be creating edge/fragmented environments in which alien bird species thrive. If current development and deforestation trends continue, further increasing the impact of edge/fragmentation-related effects, breeding populations of the remaining once-common honeycreepers may be relegated to the few large protected areas in Hawai‘i such as Volcanoes National Park and other fragmented forest islands. If this occurs, these species will be much more susceptible to catastrophic population declines. It is critical, therefore, that public officials work to protect remaining stands of native forest through new zoning laws that recognize the importance and uniqueness of east Hawai‘i’s native forests and their wildlife inhabitants.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1551-3211
Print ISSN
0066-9628
Pages
pp. 54-66
Launched on MUSE
2009-06-10
Open Access
No
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