USING VOCALIZATIONS TO MONITOR HOW CAPTIVE BRED ˊALALĀ (CORVUS HAWAIIENSIS) ARE ADAPTING TO THE WILD

Date
2022-05
Authors
Justice, Robert Lee
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Hart, Patrick J.
Department
Tropical Conservation Biology & Environmental Science
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Abstract
The `Alalā is a raucous, intelligent and curious bird that once occupied much of the dry and mesic forests around the island of Hawaii. Currently the remaining population of `Alalā resides only in captivity at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center on Hawaiʻi island and the Maui Bird Conservation Center, however the long-term goal of these facilities is to reestablish wild populations of `Alalā on both islands. Starting in 2017, 27 captive bred ʻālala were released at Puˊu Makaˊala Natural Area Reserve on Hawaiʻi island. My research focused on 18 of the 27 captive reared released birds as they transitioned from juveniles to adulthood in the wild. The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance tracking team and I recorded the vocalizations of these individual `Alalā and their associated behaviors using a handheld video camera over 996 field days and a total of 682 video recordings. This allowed me to elucidate the different factors that influenced their vocalizations and pairing success and to uncover the variety of factors that influence their vocal repertoires, such as life stage, social connectedness, paired status, and sex. I found that juvenile repertoire size is a significant predictor of which birds would pair up quickly after maturing to adulthood, and that social connectedness to the group is a good predictor of what behaviors the birds would exhibit as adults. This study is the first to utilize vocalizations associated with specific behaviors to evaluate the potential for pairing success upon reintroduction for a bird that is extinct in the wild.
Description
The `Alalā is a raucous, intelligent and curious bird that once occupied much of the dry and mesic forests around the island of Hawaii. Currently the remaining population of `Alalā resides only in captivity at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center on Hawaiʻi island and the Maui Bird Conservation Center, however the long-term goal of these facilities is to reestablish wild populations of `Alalā on both islands. Starting in 2017, 27 captive bred ʻālala were released at Puˊu Makaˊala Natural Area Reserve on Hawaiʻi island. My research focused on 18 of the 27 captive reared released birds as they transitioned from juveniles to adulthood in the wild. The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance tracking team and I recorded the vocalizations of these individual `Alalā and their associated behaviors using a handheld video camera over 996 field days and a total of 682 video recordings. This allowed me to elucidate the different factors that influenced their vocalizations and pairing success and to uncover the variety of factors that influence their vocal repertoires, such as life stage, social connectedness, paired status, and sex. I found that juvenile repertoire size is a significant predictor of which birds would pair up quickly after maturing to adulthood, and that social connectedness to the group is a good predictor of what behaviors the birds would exhibit as adults. This study is the first to utilize vocalizations associated with specific behaviors to evaluate the potential for pairing success upon reintroduction for a bird that is extinct in the wild.
Keywords
Animal sciences, Wildlife conservation, Zoology, Alala, Animal Communication, Captive released, Endangered, Extinct in wild, Vocal Repertoire
Citation
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37 pages
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