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Vegetation and non-native ungulate monitoring at the Big Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex 2010–2014.

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Title:Vegetation and non-native ungulate monitoring at the Big Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex 2010–2014.
Authors:Leopold, Christina
Hess, Steve
Kendall, Steve
Keywords:feral cattle, feral pig, wet forest, mesic forest, fireweed
Date Issued:04 Dec 2015
Series:Technical Report HCSU - 062
Abstract:The Hakalau Forest Unit (HFU) of Big Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex (BINWRC) has intensively managed feral cattle (Bos taurus) and pigs (Sus scrofa) and monitored non-native ungulate presence and distribution during surveys of all managed areas since 1988. We: 1) provide results from recent ungulate surveys at HFU to determine current feral pig abundance and distribution; 2) present results of surveys of ungulate presence and distribution at the Kona Forest Unit (KFU); 3) present results of surveys of weed presence and cover at both refuge units; and 4) present baseline results from long-term vegetation monitoring plots at KFU. Overall pig abundance appears to have decreased at HFU, although not significantly, over the period from 2010 to 2014. Management units 2 and 4 contained the majority of pigs at HFU. Pig density outside of adjacent managed areas has declined significantly from 2010 to 2014 for unknown reasons. Ungulate sign occurred in > 50% of plots at KFU during the November 2012 and September 2013 surveys, but ungulate sign occurred in < 28% of plots during three other surveys. The ability to differentiate sign of ungulate species remains problematic at KFU. Changes in weed cover do not yet demonstrate any strong temporal pattern. Spatial patterns are more pronounced; however, some weed species may not be reliably represented due to
observers’ abilities to recognize less common weeds. Nonetheless, the distribution and cover of fireweed (Senecio madagascariensis) at KFU may have increased over the study period. Vegetation surveys documented baseline floristic composition and forest structure at KFU. It is not known if this current amount of emerging cover is sufficient for long-term self-sustaining forest canopy regeneration; however, numerous ‘ōhi‘a seedlings were found in the wet forest and mesic ‘ōhi‘a habitats, indicating an ample viable seed source and robust potential for forest
Appears in Collections: Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit (HCSU)

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