Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit (HCSU)

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    Evaluation of data collected by Guam Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources during population establishment and monitoring of ko'ko' (Hypotaenidia owstoni) on Rota, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and wildlife monitoring datasets on Cocos Island and Guam
    ( 2024-03-29) Camp, Richard J. ; Nash, Sarah A. B. ; Paxton, Kristina L.
    Efforts to recover the critically endangered ko’ko’ (Guam rail, Hypotaenidia owstoni) through establishing an experimental population on the island of Rota in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have been ongoing for three decades. The U.S. Geological Survey collaborated with the Guam Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources and the Government of Guam to evaluate whether objectives for three projects can be met with current protocols. The aim of this report was to evaluate existing data provided on (1) ko’ko’ population monitoring on Rota; (2) ko’ko’ population establishment on Rota; plus (3) evaluation of three wildlife monitoring datasets for ko’ko’ on Cocos Island, endangered pulattat (Mariana common moorhen, Gallinula chloropus guami) on Guam, and introduced ungulate species on Guam. Data sources included playback call surveys, point count surveys, release events and studbook information, telemetry of radio-marked birds, as well as landcover classes, storm events, and Oceanic Niño Index information to relate environmental factors to ko’ko’ persistence. Major findings were that reaching objectives was constrained by limited data availability and quality. Suggestions for future study include developing detailed protocols for surveys and data collection, standardizing training procedures for observers, improving data organization and archiving, using methods like distance sampling that account for imperfect detection, and collecting additional data on nests and prey resources to understand drivers of ko’ko’ density and survival. While the current data provide a preliminary assessment, improved sampling designs and consistent protocols are needed to fully address objectives related to the recovery of the ko’ko’. The report provides a roadmap for enhancing data collection and analysis to support management decisions and reach conservation translocation goals about this endangered species and related projects.
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    Forest bird populations at the Pu'u Wa'awa'a Forest Bird Sanctuary and Pu'u Wa'awa'a Forest Reserve, Hawai'i
    ( 2023-09) Kendall, Steven J. ; Camp, Richard J. ; Wang, Alex ; Berry, Lainie ; Nietmann, Lindsey
    Endemic Hawaiian forest birds have exhibited dramatic population declines since human colonization of Hawai‘i. The Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Bird Sanctuary and adjacent Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve on Hawai‘i Island were established in 2002 to conserve endemic forest birds and their habitats. Surveys have been conducted in this area to monitor forest bird populations and their response to management actions since 1979. We analyzed point-transect distance sampling survey data collected between 1990 and 2022 in the Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Bird Sanctuary and forested portions of the adjacent forest reserve. There were 20 passerine or psittacine species detected of which 6 were native species and 14 were non-native species. In all years, Hawai‘i ‘amakihi (Chlorodrepanis virens virens), ‘apapane (Himatione sanguinea), and warbling white-eye (Zosterops japonicus) were the most abundant species, and in most years ‘i‘iwi (Drepanis coccinea) was the fourth most abundant species. ‘I‘iwi and Hawai‘i ‘amakihi had stable long-term (1990–2022) population trends, and trends for ‘apapane were inconclusive, while warbling white-eye had upward trends. In recent years (2016–2022), ‘apapane had downward trends, ‘i‘iwi and warbling white-eye had upward trends, and trends for ‘amakihi were inconclusive. Populations of Hawai‘i ‘elepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis) and the endangered Hawai‘i ‘ākepa (Loxops coccineus) and ‘alawī (Loxops mana) were either locally extirpated or in numbers too low to reliably estimate population densities and trends. The Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Bird Sanctuary and adjacent Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve are important for the conservation of forest birds on Hawai‘i Island as one of few areas of mesic to dry forests being specifically managed for forest bird conservation. Conservation efforts at the Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Bird Sanctuary and Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve would benefit from continued annual surveys and regular monitoring, and timely analysis of survey data to track responses in forest bird populations to evaluate and adapt management actions.
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    Camera trap distance sampling survey design, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam
    ( 2023-07-18) Camp, Richard J. ; Bak, Trevor M.
    Reliable population estimates of animal density is one of the most elementary needs for the control and management of wildlife, particularly for introduced ungulates on oceanic islands. On Guam, Philippine deer (Rusa marianna) and wild pigs (Sus scrofa; wild boar and descendants of domestic pigs) cause agricultural and ecological damage and are hunted for recreational, nutritional, and cultural uses. Most common population estimation methods are based on capture-recapture and related methods that require marking or uniquely identifying individuals. Capturing, marking, and either recapturing or resighting individuals repeatedly is labor intensive and expensive. In many situations marking or individually distinguishing animals is not feasible, necessitating estimating densities and abundance from unmarked animal populations. Motion-triggered camera traps are a relatively low-cost approach that can be used to generate presence/pseudo-absence and indices of relative abundance on multiple species simultaneously. We used distance sampling with camera traps to estimate deer and pig densities from non-independent observations of unmarked animals while accounting for imperfect detection where some present individuals are not detected. We present methods to (1) process the digital imagery data automatically for species detection and species categorization using a machine learning algorithm, (2) automatically estimate distance to detected species using a separate machine learning algorithm, and (3) estimate densities using distance sampling with camera trap methods. We compare accuracy statistics and results of ungulate densities estimated from automated methods to those estimated from manual assessment. We collected 7,695 videos: 381 videos contained deer and 377 contained pigs. The object detection and identification model performed well with overall accuracy above 80% and F1 scores above 0.9. The hazard-rate key detection function was chosen for deer and pigs based on Akaike’s information criterion accounting for overdispersion. Deer density estimates were 0.53 ± 0.20 deer/ha with higher density in the Plateau area than the Tarague area of Guam. Pig density estimates were 0.53 ± 0.32 pigs/ha, also with higher densities in the Plateau area than the Tarague area. Coefficients of variation ranged from 0.38 to 1.15, and greater numbers of camera traps would be required for pigs than deer to achieve desired coefficients of variation. On average, 101.9 ± 82.3 deer and 131.6 ± 118.8 pigs were detected per day. Microsite heterogeneity affected densities where orientation-specific estimates were less precise than estimates made with the full dataset. We developed a camera trap survey design based on standard camera trapping sampling protocols using motion-activated, digital cameras and determined that distance sampling methods using camera traps produce reliable densities of unmarked deer and pigs on Guam. Our camera trap survey design is based on a regularly sized trapping grid that is generalizable and can be expanded to survey other areas of Guam.
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    Host plant associations of Lepidoptera and implications for forest bird management at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge
    ( 2022-07-11) Banko, Paul ; Peck, Robert ; Munstermann, Maya ; Jaenecke, Kelly
    Forests dominated or co-dominated by ‘ōhi‘a (Metrosideros polymorpha) are critical to most Hawaiian forest birds, but fungal diseases causing Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death (ROD) threaten ‘ōhi‘a-based food webs that support native bird communities on Hawai‘i Island. Caterpillars are the most frequently consumed arthropod prey of native birds and their young and are especially frequent in the diets of one threatened (T) and three endangered (E) species (“listed” species) at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge (Hakalau): ‘akiapōlā‘au (Hemignathus wilsoni, E), ‘alawī (Hawai‘i creeper; Loxops mana, E), Hawai‘i ‘ākepa (L. coccineus, E), and ‘i‘iwi (Drepanis coccinea, T). Hakalau harbors the largest and most stable populations of listed forest birds in Hawai‘i, presumably due to the availability of food resources and the extent of suitable, managed habitat above the range of mosquito-borne avian malaria. Because a previous study indicated that only a few caterpillar species were important in the diets of listed birds at Hakalau, we investigated the distribution of caterpillars on common host plants available to foraging birds. Eleven native plant species hosted two or more taxa identified to genus or species, with at least seven from ‘ōhi‘a, six from koa (Acacia koa), and five from ‘ākala (Rubus hawaiensis). We identified 16 taxa to genus or species from 9 families, assigning 11 to species. Leaves, which were the focus of our sampling effort, were the substrate used by 20 caterpillar taxa, and dead wood or bark was used by 7 taxa. In a previous study, we classified 19 morphotypes of caterpillar mandibles in the diets of native and alien birds at Hakalau, and in the present study we dissected mandibles from caterpillars that likely matched 10 of those morphotypes. These 10 morphotypes potentially represented >95% of caterpillar prey found in the earlier diet study and were collected from 11 host plant species, with ‘ōhi‘a hosting 8 morphotypes, 4 of which were exclusive to ‘ōhi‘a. The most widely hosted morphotype was found on all 11 plant species that we sampled, including ‘ōhi‘a, but the other 9 morphotypes were found on 1–7 hosts. As shown by the previous diet study, each of the listed bird species consumed caterpillar prey consisting mostly of combinations of two morphotypes drawn from a pool of only five, indicating a high degree of specialization. In the present study, we collected three of the five key morphotypes only on ‘ōhi‘a, highlighting the importance of this tree to listed bird species. Because ‘ōhi‘a forests in Hakalau remain vulnerable to ROD, measures to mitigate the impacts of reduced ‘ōhi‘a cover are important to consider from the perspective of forest bird food webs and diet. Ongoing reforestation of former pasturelands with koa and common understory species should provide alternative caterpillar prey for forest birds. Our results and information from the literature indicate that koa supports, to varying degrees, nearly all forest birds at Hakalau, while ‘ākala, ‘ōhelo (Vaccinium calycinum), kōlea (Myrsine lessertiana), ‘ōlapa (Cheirodendron trigynum), pūkiawe (Leptecophylla tameiameiae), and māmaki (Pipturus albidus) could benefit bird populations by increasing prey availability and structural complexity in koa-dominated stands. Foraging studies and additional research to identify species and host plant associations of important forest bird prey, including caterpillars and other arthropods, can help managers evaluate the complex interactions between native forest birds and their food webs and habitats.
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    2021 Tinian Island forest bird abundance estimates
    ( 2022-05-26) Camp, Richard J. ; Bak, Trevor ; Genz, Ayesha S.
    The U.S. Navy, through Micronesian Environmental Services, surveyed landbirds in the Military Lease Area on Tinian Island in May and June 2021 using point-transect distance sampling methods. There were 2,074 individuals of 14 species detected during 123 point counts. Six species were detected during >50% of the counts and were observed at relatively high abundances, while eight species occurred at <50% of the counts and were uncommon to rare. Densities of native landbirds in the Military Lease Area ranged from the uncommon Mariana kingfisher (Todiramphus albicilla) at 0.46 birds/ha (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.33–0.63) to the very abundant bridled white-eye (Zosterops conspicillatus) at 102.63 birds/ha (95%CI = 86.70–122.91). Most distances recorded during the 2021 Military Lease Area survey were rounded to distance intervals of 0 and 5. Measuring exact distances of detected animals is preferable to collecting distances grouped into bins or rounding. Direct comparison with previously published estimates was not possible because of changes in the sampling frame; however, densities of six species were greater, two were smaller, and one was similar to the 2008 survey estimates for the Hagoi, Diablo, and Masalog regions. Our findings indicate that the landbird community in the Military Lease Area appears to be dynamic and resilient.
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    Hawaiian forest bird conservation strategies for minimizing the risk of extinction: biological and biocultural considerations
    ( 2022-04-14) Paxton, Eben H. ; Laut, Megan ; Enomoto, Stanton ; Bogardus, Michelle
    The iconic forest birds of Hawai‘i are facing a conservation crisis. Across the Hawaiian Islands, native forest birds have been experiencing population declines that have accelerated in the last one to two decades. While habitat loss, invasive species, and non-native predators have negatively affected forest bird species for hundreds of years, and continue to do so, introduced diseases, particularly avian malaria, are the greatest threat to forest birds today. Further, climate change has increased temperatures in the high-elevation forests, facilitating the spread of disease into areas that were once largely disease-free. Rapid population declines have now (2022) pushed four Hawaiian honeycreeper species to the brink of extinction: the endangered ‘akikiki (Oreomystis bairdi) and ‘akeke‘e (Loxops caeruleirostris) on Kaua‘i Island, and kiwikiu (Pseudonestor xanthophrys) and ‘ākohekohe (Palmeria dolei) on Maui Island. The biologists that study these birds strongly agree that without a rapid conservation response to the threat of increasing disease mortality there is a high probability these species will go extinct in the coming decade. To help evaluate alternative conservation strategies for minimizing the risk of extinction, we convened diverse groups of experts with broad experience in Hawai‘i forest birds and ecosystems, as well as the management approaches being considered, to assess the probability of success of alternative management actions. In addition to assessing this crisis from a biological perspective, we convened a group of Native Hawaiian participants that have a strong connection to the forest birds, forests, and the integration of their culture in natural and biocultural resource management. They give voice to the significance of forest birds to Native Hawaiians and provide their perspectives on alternative management actions. Broadly, the three alternative management actions being considered to prevent the extinction of forest birds from the increasing threat of disease are (1) landscape-level mosquito control through the Wolbachia incompatible insect technique, (2) captive care, and (3) conservation translocations. The two key components of the problem of preventing extinction in these four bird species is time and risk. For each species, very few individuals remain, and they are all in danger of imminent extinction. Each management action takes time to implement, which might exceed the actual time to extinction. Additionally, each of these conservation actions has potential benefits and inherent risks, as well as substantial uncertainty in terms of being successful. Native Hawaiian perspectives and considerations also vary across the conservation actions. The expert evaluations summarized in this report provide a broad assessment of conservation strategies that could be undertaken to prevent the extinction of ‘akikiki, ‘akeke‘e, kiwikiu, and ‘ākohekohe. While this report does not recommend specific actions, the information is intended to support decision-makers as they assess which, if any, conservation strategies to pursue. // Ke hālāwai nei nā manu o ka nahele o Hawai‘i me ka pōpilikia maluō. Ma ka pae ‘āina ‘o Hawai‘i, ke emi mai nei nō ka nui manu a keu aku ma nā makahiki he 10 a 20 i hala aku nei. I loko nō o ka pā hewa o ka manu no nā makahiki he lō‘ihi a he mau haneli i ka nele o kahi e noho ai, ka lāhulu komo hailapu, a me ka po‘ii‘a malihini, ‘o ka ma‘i malihini, ‘o ia ho‘i ka avian malaria, ka mea nui e pau nei ka manu ‘ānō. Ua pi‘i pū ho‘i ka mehana o ka nahele o nā wao ki‘eki‘e a‘e i ka mehana honua e laha ai ua ma‘i nei i nā wahi loa‘a mua ‘ole o ua ma‘i nei. Ua lilo ka pau ‘emo ‘ole ‘ana o ka manu he kumu e pau nei ka ‘ehā lāhulu manu mūkīkī i ka make loa: ‘o ka ‘akikiki (Oreomystis bairdi) lāua me ka ‘akeke‘e (Loxops caeruleirostris) ma ka mokupuni ‘o Kaua‘i a me ke kiwikiu (Pseudonestor xanthophrys) lāua me ka ‘ākohekohe (Palmeria dolei) ma ka mokupuni ‘o Maui. Ua lōkahi ka mana‘o o nā akeakamai kālaimeaola nāna e noi‘i ana i kēia po‘e manu, he nui loa ka papaha o ka pau o ua mau lāhulu nei i ka make loa i loko o nā makahiki he ‘umi e hiki mai auane‘i ke pa‘a ‘ole ke ki‘ina ho‘omaluō e lapa‘au ai. I mea e kālailai ‘ia ai nā ka‘akālai ho‘omaluō e emi ai ka pau loa ‘ana o ka manu i ka make loa, ua ho‘ohui ‘ia nā mea mākaukau o nā ‘ano like ‘ole nona ka ‘ike laulā i ka manu o ka nahele a kaiaola o Hawai‘i a me nā ala ho‘omalu e no‘ono‘o ‘ia ana e noi‘i ai i ka papaha o ka puka o ua mau ki‘ina ho‘omalu nei. Ma waho o ka noi‘i i ka pōpilikia ma ke kuana‘ike kālaimeaola, ua ho‘ohui pū ‘ia he hui o nā kānaka Hawai‘i nona ka pilina ikaika i ka manu o ka nahele, ka nahele, a me ka ‘āwili ‘ia o ka mo‘omeheu Hawai‘i ma ka ho‘omalu kumuwaiwai ao kūlohelohe e komo ai ka mana‘o i ka mea nui o ka manu i ke kānaka Hawai‘i me ka hāpai pū ‘ia o ka mana‘o no nā ki‘ina ho‘omalu pū kekahi. Ma ka laulā, he ‘ekolu ki‘ina ho‘omalu e no‘ono‘o ‘ia nei he ala e pau ‘ole ai ka manu o ka nahele i ka make loa, 1) ke kāohi makika ma o ka Wolbachia incompatible insect technique, 2) ka hānai ka‘awale, a me 3) ka ho‘omaluō ka‘awale. ‘O ka manawa a me ka ‘a‘a i ka hana nā kumuloli nui ‘elua o ke pani i ka pau ‘ana o kēia mau lāhulu manu ‘ehā i ka make loa. No kēlā me kēia lāhulu, kāka‘ikahi nō ke koe ‘ana mai o kona mau manu a ke hālāwai maoli nei nō me ka pōpilikia o pau i ka make loa. He wā ka mea e pono ai kēlā me kēia ki‘ina ho‘omalu e hele ana paha a ma ‘ō aku o ka manawa e pau ai ua mau manu nei i ka make loa. He hopena maika‘i a maika‘i ‘ole nō paha ko kēia mau ki‘ina ho‘omalu, a pēlā pū ke kānalua nui i ka puka a me ka puka ‘ole nō paha. ‘Oko‘a pū ke kuana‘ike o ke kānaka Hawai‘i no kēlā me kēia ki‘ina ho‘omalu. Hō‘ike nā mana‘o o nā mea mākaukau i hō‘ulu‘ulu ‘ia ma kēia mo‘olelo he ‘ike laulā no nā ki‘ina ho‘omaluō e lawelawe ‘ia e pani ‘ia ai ka pau ‘ana o ka ‘akikiki, ka ‘akeke‘e, ke kiwikiu, a me ka ‘ākohekoke i ka make loa. I loko nō o ka hāpai ‘ole ‘ia o nā ki‘ina pono‘ī, i mea ho‘i ka ‘ike o loko e kāko‘o ‘ia ai nā mea nona ka mana ho‘oholo ma ke koho paha i ke ki‘ina ho‘omaluō e ‘imi ‘ia aku.
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    Forest bird populations at the Big Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Hawai‘i
    ( 2022-04-13) Kendall, Steven J. ; Rounds, Rachel A. ; Camp, Richard J. ; Genz, Ayesha S.
    Endemic Hawaiian forest birds have experienced dramatic population declines. The Big Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex (BINWRC) was created for conservation of endangered Hawaiian forest birds and their habitats. Surveys have been conducted at two units of BINWRC to monitor forest bird populations and their response to management actions. We analyzed survey data from 1987 to 2019 at the Hakalau Forest Unit (HFU) and from 1995 to 2019 at the Kona Forest Unit (KFU). We analyzed three strata at HFU: open-forest, closed-forest, and pasture, and two strata at the KFU: upper (>1524 m elevation) and lower (<1524 m). In all years, ‘i‘iwi (Drepanis coccinea), ‘apapane (Himatione sanguinea), and Hawai‘i ‘amakihi (Chlorodrepanis virens virens) were the most abundant species at HFU. The three endangered forest bird species, Hawai‘i ‘ākepa (Loxops coccineus), ‘alawī (Loxops mana, also known as Hawai‘i creeper) and ‘akiapōlā‘au (Hemignathus wilsoni), had much lower densities. The most abundant species at KFU was ‘apapane, followed by Hawai‘i ‘amakihi and warbling white-eye (Zosterops japonicus) at much lower densities. At HFU we found a continuation of several trends observed in previous analyses from 1987–2012, with most species’ trends upward in pasture stratum, stable in the open-forest stratum, and downward in the closed-forest stratum. However, when we looked at the most recent decade at HFU, more species were showing downward trends in all three strata. At KFU results were mixed, with more species’ trends downward in the upper stratum and more species’ trends upward in the lower stratum. Populations of endangered forest species were either locally extirpated at KFU or in numbers too low to reliably estimate population densities. Both units in the BINWRC are important for conservation of forest birds on Hawai‘i Island, and our results show that HFU supports the majority of the three endangered forest bird species found on Hawai‘i Island. Our analysis also shows the importance of continuous monitoring and timely analysis to track forest bird populations. With the additional data provided by continued surveys, we determined conclusive population trends for species whose trends were previously inconclusive. Knowing current population densities, abundances, and trends allows managers to evaluate and adapt management actions to support forest bird conservation at the BINWRC.
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    2019–2021 Palila abundance estimates and trend
    ( 2022-01-24) Genz, Ayesha S. ; Brinck, Kevin W. ; Asing, Chauncey K. ; Berry, Lainie ; Camp, Richard J. ; Banko, Paul C.
    The palila (Loxioides bailleui) population on Mauna Kea Volcano, Hawai‘i Island, was estimated from annual surveys in 2019−2021, and a trend analysis was performed on survey data from 1998−2021. The 2019 population was estimated at 1,030−1,899 birds (point estimate: 1,432), the 2020 population was estimated at 964−1,700 birds (point estimate: 1,312), and the 2021 population was estimated at 452−940 birds (point estimate: 678). Since 1998, a visual inspection of the size of the area containing palila detections on the western slope based on the minimum/maximum elevations has not shown a substantial change, indicating that the range of the species has remained stable; although this area represents only about 5% of its historical extent. During 1998−2005, palila numbers fluctuated between 4,000 and 6,000, followed by a steep decline. After 2010, palila estimates stabilized around an abundance of 2,000 with a much slower rate of decline. The decline during 1998−2021 was on average 229 birds per year with very strong statistical support for an overall downward trend in abundance. Over the 23-year monitoring period, the estimated rate of change equated to an 89% decline in the population.
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    Hawaiian hoary bat acoustic surveys on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, 2019-2021
    ( 2021-11-11) Pinzari, Corinna A. ; Montoya-Aiona, Kristina M. ; Gross, Danielle N. ; Courtot, Karen N.
    The endangered Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus semotus, Vespertilionidae, also known as Aeorestes semotus and ‘ōpe‘ape‘a) occurs on all the principal volcanic islands in Hawai‘i. Advances in acoustic bat monitoring techniques have contributed to the body of knowledge of bat activity and behavior in many areas of the State of Hawai‘i; however, there is still much that is unknown about the population and seasonal distribution of Hawaiian hoary bats on O‘ahu. A two-year acoustic survey for presence of Hawaiian hoary bats was conducted at 17 stations across four Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH) properties on O‘ahu to document distribution, seasonal patterns, and foraging activity. Bats were confirmed present at all properties; MCBH Kaneohe Bay on Mōkapu Peninsula, Marine Corps Training Area Bellows (MCTAB) in Waimanalo, Camp H M Smith in Halawa Heights, and Puuloa Range Training Facility (RTF) on the ‘Ewa coastal plain. Hawaiian hoary bats were recorded in airspace at all four properties during important periods of Hawaiian hoary bat life history, including periods of pregnancy, lactation, and pup fledging; however, overall presence was low. Foraging activity as identified from characteristic feeding buzzes was very rare and was recorded on only three nights over the entire study. Within-night bat detection pooled for all nights and stations at each property showed that bat activity was mostly confined to the first several hours of the night at MCBH Kaneohe Bay and Puuloa RTF, whereas bat activity was spread throughout the night at Camp H M Smith and MCTAB. Overall, detection frequency was low (year 1 = 0.009, year 2 = 0.007, average = 0.008) at the study sites on O‘ahu compared to results from acoustic monitoring studies on the islands of Maui and Hawai‘i. However, the low rate of bat presence on MCBH properties is consistent with recent studies at other locations on the Island of O‘ahu. Monitoring the seasonal presence and distribution of Hawaiian hoary bats on MCBH facilities, especially at forest and wetland habitats, could contribute to the broader scientific understanding of island-wide distribution and behavior on O‘ahu, which is essential for species recovery planning and implementation of best management practices.
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    Effectiveness of rapid 'ōhi'a death management strategies at a focal disease outbreak on Hawai'i Island
    ( 2021-02-03) Roy, Kylle ; Granthon, Carolina ; Peck, Robert W. ; Atkinson, Carter T.
    The ongoing spread of rapid ‘ōhi‘a death (ROD) in the Hawaiian Islands threatens the long-term sustainability of ‘ōhi‘a lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) forests throughout the state. First identified in the Puna district of Hawai‘i Island in 2014, the disease caused by the novel fungi Ceratocystis lukuohia and Ceratocystis huliohia has now spread island-wide and was recently detected on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, and Maui. The leading hypothesis for the spread of ROD is through airborne ambrosia beetle frass particles that contain viable Ceratocystis propagules, thus management efforts focus on containing this frass. At the time of this study (2017–2018), the Waipunalei site was the northernmost outbreak of ROD on Hawai‘i Island. The focal nature of the outbreak and accessibility of the location provided the opportunity to monitor the effectiveness of two types of proposed management methods to reduce the airborne spread of potentially infective ambrosia beetle frass: tree felling and insecticide treatments. We placed 23 passive environmental samplers (PES), which monitored for airborne frass and wood particles containing C. lukuohia and C. huliohia in a grid that spanned the outbreak area over 22 weeks. Cross-vane panel traps with 1:1 methanol:ethanol lures were attached to nine of the PES to document wood-boring ambrosia and cerambycid beetle populations during the latter three months of the study. Monitoring with PES began three weeks before management and continued for one month after the last infected trees were felled. Glass microscope slides from the 23 PES were examined for airborne ambrosia beetle frass and wood particles by microscopy. DNA was extracted from the slides and tested by qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction) for C. lukuohia and C. huliohia. We also investigated the correlation of beetle gallery counts with tree height and tested the efficacy of Bifen I/T insecticide (active ingredient: bifenthrin 7.9%) for preventing beetle attacks on the cut surface of ‘ōhi‘a bolts (tree stem sections). Beetle trapping data revealed that the area supports a diverse community of wood-boring beetles, some of which likely attack ‘ōhi‘a and may facilitate the spread of ROD. The number of beetle galleries on felled ‘ōhi‘a trees decreased linearly as tree height increased. We also observed significantly fewer beetle attacks on Bifen I/T treated ‘ōhi‘a bolts than non-treated bolts, but gallery formation nearly ceased in both treated and control bolts by week three. Ceratocystis lukuohia DNA was detected twenty-six times and C. huliohia was detected five times in the PES throughout this study. DNA detections were correlated to frass and wood counts, and the number of felled trees were correlated to wood particle counts but not frass counts. Both the timing and distribution of detections across the sampling grid indicate that tree felling may have reduced airborne detections of Ceratocystis DNA soon after tree felling was completed. A subsequent increase in detections after tree felling ceased may indicate that incomplete removal of infected trees and the appearance of new infections in previously asymptomatic trees could have allowed airborne detections of potentially infectious fungal propagules to once again increase.