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2012 Ka‘ahahui o ka Nāhelehele Dryland Symposium

2012_7: Dr. Chris Farmer and Jackson Bauer "Palila and the Mauna Kea Restoration Project"

Dr. Chris Farmer of the American Bird Conservancy discusses the distribution, abundance, ecology, natural history, management and threats to the critically endangered forest bird the Palila on the island of Hawai’i. The Palila is a Hawaiian honeycreeper that is restricted to the west slope of Mauna Kea. It occupies only about 5% of its historical range. Palila are food specialists and depend on the seeds of mamane trees for ~ 90% of their diet, as well as for nesting sites and shelter. The quantity and quality of the dry subalpine mamane forest has declined over many decades due to grazing pressure of introduced herbivores but is beginning to recover in many areas where ungulate numbers have been reduced. However, despite improving habitat conditions, the palila has not increased in numbers.

The Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project was initiated as a result of the Saddle Road realignment project. The Saddle Road was rerouted through lands designated as Critical Habitat for the Palila. To mitigate the loss of habitat, two areas were designated for restoration of mamane forest on the north and west slopes of Mauna Kea. Jackson Bauer discuss efforts by MKFRP to extend the range of the forest to lower elevations and increase the year-round food availability for Palila. Restoration efforts include fenced exclosures, removing feral ungulates, collecting seed, propagating native seedlings, outplanting seedlings, controlling invasive plants, and removing predators from Palila critical habitat.

This talk was presented at the 2012 Nahelehele Dryland Forest Symposium: "Connections" on February 24th, 2012 in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The symposium highlight dryland forest ecology and restoration efforts in Hawai‘i.

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