FOREST RESTORATION TECHNIQUES IN A SUB-ALPINE FOREST ON HAWAIʻI ISLAND, KANAKALEONUI, MAUNA KEA.

Date
2023-12
Authors
Pigao, Amberly K.
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Price, Jonthan P.
Department
Tropical Conservation Biology & Environmental Science
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Abstract
Climate change in Hawaiʻi stands to alter forest succession with native bird populations being threatened by mosquito-borne avian disease, forested corridors may create a path to higher elevation habitats with less disease threat. Areas with an abundance of fog may be key in forest self-regeneration but because many of these areas have turned into degraded grasslands, water capture by trees and subsequent regeneration is not occurring. An enclosed 514 acre (208 ha) area, Kanakaleonui Bird Corridor (KBC), located on the east slope of Mauna Kea, is a unique transition zone from a Tropical Montane Cloud Forest (TMCF) to a colder, drier subalpine forest. We conducted two separate experiments at two elevation zones (a lower site at 2,200 m; 7,150 ft. and an upper site at 2,400 m; 7,900 ft.) to understand how fog water capture may facilitate seedling growth. For the first experiment Acacia koa and Sophora chrysophylla were used as nurse trees to both capture fog and buffer seedlings from high and low temperatures. For the second experiment synthetic fog structures were built along existing fence lines to capture moisture as fog passes through. Experimental plantings involved seedlings of five species: māmane (Sophora chrysophylla) naʻenaʻe (Dubautia arborea), ʻaʻaliʻi (Dodonaea viscosa), pāwale (Rumex giganteus), and ʻāweoweo (Chenopodium oahuense). These were planted under nurse trees, along a fence with 40% and 63% shade cloth, along a fence without shade cloth, and in control plots away from nurse trees and fences. ZENTRA soil moisture probes and HOBO temperature gauges were installed at each experiment. Species survival and growth responses to each treatment were generally higher in fence and nurse designs than in control plots (although survival was significant and growth was not significant). Seedings in the lower site still survived in control plots, but seedlings in the upper site, which is drier, had a high mortality rate in control plots. The results indicate that shade cloth and nurse trees facilitate fog water capture at KBC where fog is frequent. Future restoration efforts can benefit from fog capture strategies to successfully restore native Hawaiian forest.
Description
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Environmental science, Natural resource management, Fog Capture, Fog Forest, Hawaii, Mauna Kea, Nurse Trees, Subalpine
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104 pages
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