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2012 Ka‘ahahui o ka Nāhelehele Dryland Symposium

2012_4: Dr. Steve Hess"Ungulates and dry forests in Hawai'i: Why can't we all just get along?"

For more than two centuries, and despite numerous control attempts, non-native ungulates have repeatedly reached extreme population levels in Hawaii’s native dry forests, causing severe degradation across watersheds and landscapes. As a consequence of persistent degradation, the ground cover of many dry woodland communities is now dominated by pyrogenic non-native grasses which have altered ecosystem processes such as fire regimes, nutrient cycling, hydrology, and cloud water interception, further suppressing the regeneration of native trees. Dr. Steve Hess, USGS Pacific Island Ecosystems Research, explains why the prospects for large-scale recovery remain elusive as long as ungulates continue to degrade these important dry forests. The trajectory of ecosystem processes, particularly in a drying climate, may ultimately force these areas away from woodlands towards savanna grazing systems with limited watershed functions.

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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