Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit (HCSU)

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    Nihoa and Laysan Island passerines population abundances, trends, and habitat utilization
    (2024-06-18) Bak, Trevor; Camp, Richard; Farmer, Chris; Rounds, Rachel; Plentovich, Sheldon; Vetter, John; Banko, Paul; Nash, Sarah
    Nihoa and Laysan Island, part of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, are host to three endangered passerine species—Nihoa finch (Telespiza ultima), Nihoa millerbird (Acrocephalus familiaris kingi), and Laysan finch (Telespiza cantans). Using point-transect distance sampling survey records from 2010 to 2022 for Nihoa and 2013 to 2019 for Laysan Island, we estimated the density and abundance of all three species. We also compared densities between habitats for both islands, classifying Nihoa habitat as Eragrostis (grass) or mixed shrub and Laysan Island as open or dense habitat. The population of Nihoa finch remained stable with slight fluctuations among years, with a population size of 6,592 (4,954–8,655) birds for the most recent sampling year, 2022. Laysan finch also remained stable with a total population in both dense and open habitat of 17,657 (11,994–23,320) for the most recent sampling year, 2019. The Nihoa millerbird significantly increased on both Nihoa and Laysan Island with a global population of 1,907 (1,291–2,766) in 2019, the most recent year both islands were sampled. Overall, the populations of these three endangered species were stable or increasing. The increase of Nihoa millerbird on Laysan Island, after being translocated to the island in 2011 and 2012, represents the successful establishment of a second viable population, leading to a decrease in the species’ IUCN extinction risk status (from critically endangered to endangered). Continued population monitoring of these endangered species can help inform future management actions and ensure their preservation into the future.
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    Post-Typhoon Mawar population counts of the endangered yǻyaguak (Mariana swiftlet) on Guam
    (University of Hawai'i at Hilo, 2024-05-15) Eben H. Paxton; P. Marcos Gorresen; Paul Cryan; Megan Parker
    The yǻyaguak (Mariana swiftlet, Aerodramus bartschi) is an endangered cave-roosting species native to Guam and southern Mariana Islands, Micronesia. The population on Guam has declined substantially over the last half century, likely due to the introduction of the brown treesnake (Boiga irregularis), but other factors have been proposed including habitat loss, pesticides, reduced food resources, and powerful storms. On May 24–25, 2023, Guam was hit by the category-4 Typhoon Mawar, which brought wide-spread destruction to the island. Approximately 6 weeks prior to the typhoon in April 2023, we conducted surveys of the three known colonies of yǻyaguak at Mahlac, Maemong, and Fachi caves. This survey provided a baseline population estimate prior to Typhoon Mawar’s landfall. In July 2023, we resurveyed the caves to estimate colony size and assess whether the cave colonies experienced significant declines in the immediate aftermath of the storm. In November 2023, we conducted our regularly scheduled biannual surveys which provided a longer-term assessment of potential impacts from the typhoon. Our counts indicated that in the immediate aftermath (~6 weeks) there was a 7–8% reduction in size of colonies compared to the April 2023 counts, but in November there were larger, 19–35% reductions in the cave colonies from pre-Mawar surveys. These results suggest that the long-term effects of the storm were more detrimental to the yǻyaguak populations than the immediate impacts if these colony size reductions are a result of the storm. Continued monitoring of the yǻyaguak cave colonies will allow for documenting the pace of recovery from the storm.
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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.
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    Field trials to test new trap technologies for monitoring Culex populations and the efficacy of the biopesticide formulation VectoMax® FG for control of larval Culex quinquefasciatus in the Alaka'i Plateau, Kaua'i, Hawaii
    (2021-01-18) LaPointe, Dennis A.; Black, Theodore V.; Riney, Michael; Brinck, Kevin W.; Crampton, Lisa H.; Hite, Justin
    Mosquito-borne avian malaria Plasmodium relictum is a key limiting factor for endemic Hawaiian forest birds. In the past decade, populations of Kaua‘i’s endemic forest birds have been in a steep decline due to an increase in malaria transmission. To evaluate the use of available biopesticides for short-term mosquito control we tested the efficacy of the biopesticide VectoMax® FG against Culex quinquefasciatus larvae in naturally occurring perched stream pools, seeps, and ground pools in forest bird habitat in Kaua‘i’s remote Alaka‘i Plateau. We also tested the efficacy of conventional and newer traps and attractants for the capture of adult Culex quinquefasciatus in Hawaiian rain forests and monitored adult mosquito populations at the Kaua‘i field site. During field trials conducted on Hawai‘i Island we captured more Culex quinquefasciatus in gravid traps than in host-seeking traps. Among the host-seeking traps, Biogents BG-Sentinel 2 traps baited with CO2 and BG-Lure caught more Culex quinquefasciatus and Aedes japonicus japonicus than CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) traps baited with compressed CO2, CDC traps baited with dry ice, or Biogents BG-Sentinel 2 traps baited with BG-Lure and octenol but not CO2. Both Biogents BG-Sentinel 2 and CDC miniature traps baited with compressed CO2 or dry ice captured significantly more Culex quinquefasciatus than Biogents BG-Sentinel 2 traps baited with octenol and BG-Lure but without CO2. We also found that gravid traps baited with timothy hay infusions caught significantly more Culex quinquefasciatus than traps baited with either a commercial gravid mosquito attractant or an infusion made with pelleted rabbit feed. Traps baited with an infusion of timothy hay and donkey dung were the most effective for Culex quinquefasciatus. On Kaua‘i, we operated Biogents BG-Sentinel 2 traps baited with CO2 and gravid traps and captured 29 mosquitoes in 182 trap-nights from October–November 2016 and 126 mosquitoes in 254 trap-nights from September–October 2017. Contrary to our findings on Hawai‘i Island, most mosquitoes (96%) were captured in Biogents BG-Sentinel 2 traps indicating considerable site-to-site variability in trap efficacy. Weekly adult trapping on Kaua‘i indicates Culex quinquefasciatus populations peaked in October but provided no reliable evidence that larval control had any significant effect on adult populations. Overall, VectoMax® FG was very effective at larval control reducing larval abundance by 95% at 48 hours and out to 1-week post-treatment. Treatment was most effective (100% at 1-week post-treatment) in perched pools when early instar larvae were present and least effective in seeps when pupae and fourth instar larvae were most common. Although post-treatment counts fluctuated dramatically, we observed no evidence of population level impacts to the two most common non-target invertebrates: the water strider Microvelia vagans and endemic damselfly naiads (Megalagrion sp.). VectoMax® FG appears to be an effective and safe biopesticide for the local control of Culex quinquefasciatus larvae in forest bird habitat in the Alaka‘i Plateau. Further studies will be necessary to determine if local larval control significantly reduces adult mosquito abundance and, ultimately, avian malaria transmission, and if there are long term, non-target effects associated with repeated use of VectoMax® FG in natural Hawaiian waterways.
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    2018 Kaua'i forest bird population estimates and trends
    (2020-11-11) Paxton, Eben H.; Brinck, Kevin W.; Crampton, Lisa H.; Hite, Justin; Costantini, Maria
    Kaua‘i's native forest birds have experienced steep declines since the beginning of systematic surveys in 1981, and declines have accelerated in recent decades. This report details the analysis of the most recent surveys conducted in 2018. Incorporating the new survey results, long-term trends continue to show sharp declines for all native honeycreeper species with the exception of ‘apapane (Himatione sanguinea), which has stable numbers in core areas of its range. Kaua‘i ‘elepaio (Chasiempis sclateri) continued to decline in the outer portions of its range but increased in the core areas of its range. Abundance estimates of forest birds ranged from slightly higher to slightly lower in most species, indicating a relatively stable period from 2012–2018, and a pause from the rapid declines seen in earlier periods. Many native species now exist in very low numbers, and variation in estimates from survey to survey will increase.
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    Forest bird population trends within Haleakalā National Park
    (2020-09-16) Brinck, Kevin W.
    In 2017, the comprehensive east Maui bird surveys allowed for an update in status and evaluation of trends in bird populations within Haleakalā National Park. This report describes a finer-scale analysis of the park lands, distinguishing between the upper Kīpahulu Valley plus adjacent high-elevation areas compared to the rest of the park. I report abundance estimates and assess trends for six native and three non-native bird species within the park. Overall abundance estimates are consistent with those in previous reports, but there is some evidence for different densities between the two areas of the park, and relative densities of some species may vary from survey to survey. With two possible exceptions (native ‘apapane and non-native red-billed leiothrix), recent trends indicate that bird populations are in decline.
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    Habitat suitability and ecological associations of two non-native ungulate species on the Hawaiian Island of Lāna‘i
    (2020-09-11) Hess, Steven C.; Fortini, Lucas B.; Leopold, Christina R.; Muise, Jacob; Sprague, Jonathan
    The ability to effectively manage game species for specific conservation objectives is often limited by the scientific understanding of their distribution and abundance. This is especially true in Hawai‘i where introduced game mammals are poorly studied and have low value relative to native species in other states. We modeled the habitat suitability and ecological associations of European mouflon sheep (“mouflon”; Ovis musimon) and axis deer (Axis axis) on the island of Lāna‘i using intensive aerial survey and environmental data that included climate, vegetation, and topographic variables. We conducted diagnostic tests on a suite of primarily categorical predictors and determined most were highly correlated. We therefore developed a suite of other spatial predictor layers with continuous variables. We tested several modeling approaches but settled on generalized linear models (GLM) and random GLMs because they could account for group size of animals and were based on curvilinear responses of each species to environmental variability. Both mammal species were habitat generalists showing little affinity to particular plant species or communities. Continuous predictors associated with plant productivity such as mean annual precipitation, normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), and cloud cover were important explanatory factors in a GLM of axis deer and a random GLM of mouflon habitat suitability. The presence of axis deer was also an important explanatory predictor for mouflon distribution, but deer were not influenced by mouflon distribution, indicating asymmetrical competition. Consequently, mouflon were restricted to lower elevation arid and very dry slopes, whereas axis deer were more broadly distributed throughout other upland environments of the island, but avoided steep terrain. Findings indicate that removal of a substantial portion of the more abundant axis deer population may lead to an increase in abundance and distribution of mouflon without containment. Resulting spatial models of game mammal habitat suitability will be employed to inform land use prioritization analyses and to help resolve long-standing conflicts between native species conservation and sustained-yield hunting.
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    Use of whole blood samples preserved in DNA lysis buffer for serological detection of avian malaria in Hawaiian forest birds
    (2020-06-08) Atkinson, Carter T.
    Two buffers that are commonly used to preserve whole blood for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnostics, tris-ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (TEN) and tris-sodium dodecyl sulfate-ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (SDS-EDTA), were evaluated to determine whether they can also be used to preserve blood for serological studies to detect antibodies to avian malaria. TEN buffer had no effect on antibody binding as measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) or Western blotting. By contrast, the SDS-EDTA buffer completely abolished all antibody binding. Efforts to restore binding by dialysis and concentration of the samples were not successful. Addition of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and Proteinase K to samples preserved in TEN buffer was also evaluated, because this treatment is sometimes used to render samples non-infectious prior to shipping. This treatment abolished all antibody binding by both ELISA and Western blotting. TEN buffer appears to be good for preserving whole blood samples for both PCR and serological studies, making it possible to simultaneously preserve blood samples for both PCR and serological diagnostic tests in a single tube.
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    Local to landscape-level controls of water fluxes through Hawaiian forests: Effects of invasive animals and plants on soil infiltration capacity across substrate and moisture gradients
    (2020-05-19) Fortini, Lucas Berio; Leopold, Christina; Perkins, Kim; Chadwick, Oliver; Yelenik, Stephanie; Jacobi, James; Bishaw, Kai‘ena II; Gregg, Makani; Rosa, Sarah
    Given the potential effect of invasive plants and animals to water fluxes through forests, the invasive-driven degradation of native ecosystems is a topic of great concern for many downstream land and water managers. The infiltration rate determines the partitioning between runoff and infiltration into soil in Hawaiian forests and beyond. Thus, to explore the ecohydrological effects of plant and animal invasion in mesic and wet forests in Hawaii, we measured soil infiltration capacity in multiple fenced (i.e., ungulate-free)/unfenced and native/invaded forest sites along moisture and substrate age gradients across the islands of Hawai‘i and Kaua‘i. We also characterized forest composition and structure and soil characteristics at these sites to assess the direct and vegetation-mediated impacts of invasive species on infiltration capacity. Infiltration capacity is highly variable across forested sites and the wider landscape. Much of this variability is determined by a complex set of soil, vegetation, and disturbance factors that affect infiltration capacity at the immediate surrounding of measurement plots. Consequently, the effect of any given factor can be masked by variability in other factors. However, by controlling for variability in soil and vegetation conditions at a local plot level, we found that the presence of invasive species in forests has complex and sometimes non-intuitive effects on infiltration. Our final models showed that invasive ungulates negatively affect soil infiltration capacity consistently across the wide moisture and substrate age gradients considered. Additionally, because several soil characteristics known to be affected by ungulates were associated with local infiltration rates (e.g., soil organic matter, bare soil cover, soil depth), the long-term secondary effects of high ungulate densities in Hawaiian forests may be higher than effects observed in this study. These results provide clear evidence for land managers that ungulate control efforts likely improve ecohydrologic function to mesic and wet forest systems critical to protecting downstream and nearshore resources and maintaining groundwater recharge. Compared to ungulate effects, the effect of invasive plants on water infiltration capacity in Hawaiian forests appeared much more complex. In general, elements of forest structure including increased canopy, understory and floor cover, greater presence of large roots, and lower grass and bare soil covers were positively associated with water infiltration. Whether native or not, a plant species’ potential to alter infiltration rates in Hawaiian forests was likely to depend on its physiognomy and how it affects forest community structure. For instance, while the cover of native dominant tree ‘ōhi‘a, Metrosideros polymorpha, was found to be positively associated with infiltration capacity (perhaps as an indicator of overall forest integrity), invasive Himalayan ginger, Hedychium gardnerianum, was also positively correlated with infiltration capacity, possibly due to preferential flow channels created by the presence of large root mats. Few studies have conducted comprehensive integrated ecological and hydrological sampling in forests of high conservation value. While we show there are large benefits to understanding how conservation efforts may help shape water fluxes, we also found that the commonly used study design for infiltration studies used here and elsewhere (i.e., adjacent paired sites) could be modified to provide more accurate effects of invasion in future studies for ecosystems in Hawaii and beyond.
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    Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus) behavior at wind turbines on Maui
    (2020-05-14) Gorresen, P. Marcos; Cryan, Paul M.; Tredinnick, Grace
    This study examined the activity of the endemic Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus) at wind turbines operated by Auwahi Wind Energy, LLC, on southern Maui Island, from August to November 2018. The research was conducted to assess the potential effect of wind speed and turbine operation on bat presence and behavior and compared information obtained from both acoustic monitoring and thermal videography. During the four months of nightly surveillance at four wind turbines, we observed 384 visual (videographic) and 244 acoustic detection events involving bats. Bats were infrequently detected, averaging 0.08 events per hour for both visual and acoustic samples. Detections occurred throughout the monitoring period, but bat presence was only evident for a fraction (acoustic: 30%; visual: 44%) of the turbine-nights sampled. Bats were present throughout the night, but detections exhibited a unimodal peak centered on the first third of the night, with events largely absent in the latter half of the night and no apparent seasonal trend towards earlier or later occurrence within nights. However, a decline in the visual detection rate was noted over the four-month period (a similar assessment was not available from acoustic samples due to missing data for much of the later months). Visual bat detections were not significantly correlated over nights (i.e., temporally), but were positively associated among turbines (i.e., spatially). Visual detections were generally brief (median = 9.0 sec), infrequent (median time between events = 49.0 min), and involved single passes (57%) largely comprised of a single bat (94%). The amount of time during which bats were visually observed amounted to only 0.05% of total videographic monitoring (2.5 hours of 5,066 total hours). Although not directly comparable to the video results because of differences in the volume of airspace sampled and nature of observation, acoustic detection events were similarly brief (median = 6.0 sec), infrequent (median time between passes = 38.8 min), and also composed only 0.05% of the total period of acoustic monitoring (1.6 hours of 3,036 total hours). Most visual observations (61%) were of individuals flying at some point during the event to within about 15 m of the turbine nacelle (machinery housing atop the monopole). Erratic flight paths were the most prevalent flight type with bats often repeatedly approaching and circling the nacelle. Terminal-phase (“feeding buzz”) calls were only noted in 3% of all acoustic events. Bats were most frequently detected visually at relatively low wind speeds (median = 3.4 m/sec); however, 10% of events occurred at wind speeds over 8.5 m/sec. Nightly bat detection rates for the four-month period of monitoring were negatively correlated with total daily precipitation. Generalized linear mixed model analysis confirmed that detection rates were negatively associated with wind speed and precipitation and indicated a positive relation with intermittent wind speed and its consequent effect on turbine blade rotation (i.e., frequent intervals of starting and stopping). The co-occurrence of bat detection obtained from videographic and acoustic monitoring methods was generally low, and in instances when individuals were visually observed, bats were detected acoustically during only 12% (within a 10-minute window), 22% (within a 2-hour window), and 56% (at some point during the entire night) of such events. Most visual detections (65% within a 2-hour window) lacking an acoustic detection involved bats observed flying within about 15 m of the turbine nacelle on which acoustic detector microphones were situated.
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    Hawaiian Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus) Acoustic Monitoring at Hawaii Army National Guard (HIARNG) Installations Statewide
    (2020-01-30) Montoya-Aiona, Kristina M.; Pinzari, Corinna A.; Peck, Robert W.; Brinck, Kevin W.; Bonaccorso, Frank J.
    Acoustic sampling for occurrence of the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus) was conducted at 18 “long-term” acoustic monitoring stations on 12 Hawai‘i Army National Guard (HIARNG) installations across the islands of Hawai‘i, Maui, Moloka‘i, O‘ahu, and Kaua‘i between 2012 and 2018. Bats were confirmed as present at 10 of these installations: Kealakekua Armory, Keaukaha Military Reservation (KMR), Hanapēpe Armory, Kekaha Firing Range (KFR), Pu‘unēnē Training Facility, Ukumehame Firing Range (UFR), Kaunakakai Armory, Bellows Regional Training Institute, Kalaeloa, Barber’s Point, and the 487th Military Parking Facility, Wahiawā. Seasonal frequency of bat detection was similar to previous acoustic studies for the islands of Hawai‘i, Maui, and O‘ahu. Hawaiian hoary bats were recorded at HIARNG installations during periods of pregnancy, lactation, and pup fledging. Our acoustic sampling did not record bat vocalizations at Fort Ruger and Waiawa Armory. Foraging activity was observed at nine acoustic monitoring stations on the islands of Hawai‘i, Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, and Maui. No foraging activity was observed on Moloka‘i and a single station on O‘ahu recorded one feeding buzz in September 2017 at Kalaeloa, Barber’s Point. Within-night detections showed bat activity was mostly confined to the first six hours of the night but was also variable among stations. In addition to long-term bat acoustic monitoring at HIARNG installations, Hawaiian hoary bat insect prey sampling with paired acoustic monitoring was conducted at KMR on Hawai‘i Island from May through August 2018. Insect abundance and bat activity were sampled within areas where goats and sheep were used to control weeds to determine if grazing by these ungulates attract and support potential prey for the insectivorous Hawaiian hoary bat. The assessment focused on types of flies that are often associated with livestock (muscoid flies, including house flies [Muscidae], blow flies [Calliphoridae], flesh flies [Sarcophagidae], and biting midges [Ceratopogonidae]), and moths that may be impacted by changes in the availability of grass. Insect abundance was found to vary in both space and time across the study area, with numbers of muscoid flies and biting midges increasing in the presence of livestock at some stations. Although these insects appeared to respond to livestock grazing in some instances, we did not find statistically significant responses in bat foraging as measured by echolocation activity between grazed stations and the ungrazed reference station. Thus, we found no evidence that suggested bats are drawn to foraging resources in grazed areas. This result may be influenced by several factors, including the size of Hawaiian hoary bat foraging ranges compared to the scale of study area, the type of ungulate and their dung, and the timing of insect activity. Hawaiian hoary bats use KMR and forage seasonally as evidenced by long-term acoustic studies and their presence in the ungulate grazing areas; however, the relatively small size of the ungulate herd and the area that they graze may not be able to support enough prey to have a significant influence on bat foraging rates.