island-conservation-preventing-extinctions-i'iwi-hawaii-feat2

I’iwi at Risk: A Scarlet Bird’s Dangerous Migration

As environmental impacts unfold in Hawaii, I’iwis’ seasonal migrations turn deadly.

The scarlet I’iwi is hard to miss, standing out vibrantly against the deep green backdrop of Hawaii’s foliage. The native bird, a Hawaiian honeycreeper, fits gracefully into its natural habitat. Its curved bill, for example, matches the shape of the native ‘Opelu flower, which makes for easy nectar-sipping. But as environmental impacts turn the seasonal migrations deadly, the I’iwi, classified Vulnerable on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List, is at risk of extinction.

island-conservation-preventing-extinctions-i'iwi-opelu

Native ‘Opelu flower (Lobelia hypoleuca). Credit: John Game

Mosquitoes, feral pigs, and climate change

Avian malaria was introduced to Hawaii around 1826. The disease is carried by mosquitoes and is deadly to many of Hawaii’s birds. Avian malaria is thought to be the most urgent threat facing the I’iwi, which is being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Today, invasive feral pigs and climate change are creating conditions that favor mosquitoes and put I’iwi at higher risk.

Avian malaria is spreading in Hawaii as the islands become increasingly hospitable to mosquitoes. Mosquitoes need standing water to lay their eggs; feral pigs dig wallows, which collect water and turn into stagnant muddy pools–very attractive to mosquitoes looking to lay eggs.

island-conservation-preventing-extinctions-i'iwi-stagnant-water-mosquitoes

Standing water presents opportunities for mosquitoes to breed. Credit: Scott Carpenter

Meanwhile, the range of suitable habitat for mosquitoes in the region is expanding. Human-induced climate change is causing temperatures to rise globally–including in Hawai’i. I’iwi populations in the lowlands are disappearing as a result of Avian malaria. These and other native birds of Hawaii are more likely to avoid contracting avian malaria when they are in the higher, cooler regions of Hawai’i. However, this mosquito-free range is ever-shrinking as temperatures rise.

Of all the honeycreepers that have been tested, I’iwi are the most vulnerable to Avian Malaria. Current optimistic projections hold that I’iwi will be on the verge of extinction shortly after the turn of the century.

island-conservation-preventing-extinctions-i'iwi-hawaii-peter-stahl

I’iwi perching. Credit: Peter Stahl

Scientists take the lead

team of researchers equipped with state-of-the-art monitoring technology initiated a study of I’iwi in the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. They trekked along the slopes of Hawaii’s volcano, Mauna Kea, and flew planes above the region to collect data. Their goal was to assess the threats to the I’iwi and find out how conservation could reroute the road to extinction that is so rapidly unfolding before the scarlet birds.

island-conservation-preventing-extinctions-i'iwi-mauna-kea

Mauna Kea. Credit: Barry Norton

The researchers secured radio transmitters to 56 I’iwi. The transmitters give off unique electromagnetic radio signals, which enables researchers to track their movements. In addition to radio telemetry, the researchers designed a spatial model, “Models for Avian Management Optimization” (MAMO) to simulate Hawaiian honeycreeper behavior. Researchers can observe how the “e-birds” behave to better understand how management efforts will play out in changing environments. The simulation can thereby guide conservation actions and decision-making. The aptly named tool references the Mamo, a Hawaiian honeycreeper that succumbed to extinction in the 19th century.

The researchers compiled their data and showed that I’iwi migrate in response to ʻŌhiʻa blooms, making seasonal migrations to drink nectar from ʻŌhiʻa flowers, which for some birds means spending more time in lower elevations, where the risk of contracting avian malaria is heightened.

island-conservation-preventing-extinctions-i'iwi-data

Copyright by the Ecological Society of America. Ecological Monographs Alban Guillaumet – Wendy A.Kuntz – Michael D.Samuel – Eben H.Paxton http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecm.1253/full

Staving off extinction

A multi-pronged conservation approach can help to slow down the I’iwis’ population decline and perhaps eliminate the threat of imminent extinction.

First, support I’iwi survival and population growth–the larger the I’iwi population, the better chances the birds have of developing genetic resistance to avian malaria. The more individuals are in a population, the more genetic diversity there is. The more genetic diversity there is, the higher the probability that new traits will start to emerge over generations. Emergent traits that favor the I’iwi’s survival–such as resistance to Avian Malaria–could proliferate throughout the population.

Managing invasive species impacts is a much-needed approach to protecting I’iwi. Not only do invasive feral pigs create breeding centers for the disease-carrying mosquitoes, but they also uproot seeds and seedlings that would have provided nectar resources for the I’iwi.

island-conservation-preventing-extinctions-i'iwi-ohia

ʻŌhiʻa flower. Credit: Eric Hunt/USFWS Pacific Region

The researchers highlight the need for land managers to work beyond the boundaries of designated protected areas–I’iwi are recorded flying and foraging beyond the borders of the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. While conservation efforts have been focused on higher elevations, restoration is urgently needed at lower elevations where the birds spend time foraging. The researchers recommend control of invasive feral pigs and planting drought-resistant plants at high elevations, where rainfall is limited.

As a temporary support, artificial feeders placed in the safe upper elevations could also provide a new and safe source of nourishment. In the MAMO simulation, artificial feeders, combined with other conservation measures, could help by buying the I’iwi time, giving them a chance to survive and successfully reproduce. However, this method requires further investigation to avoid causing dependency.

Taken together, these conservation interventions could prevent the extinction of the I’iwi. In the meantime, the scarlet birds will continue to follow their instincts, making dangerous migrations to their preferred sources of nectar.

island-conservation-preventing-extinctions-i'iwi-perching

I’iwi in the Hakalau Forest. Credit: Dan Clark/USFWS

Flashes of scarlet wings still accent Hawaii’s lush rainforests and scrubby slopes. The I’iwi has not yet joined the list of Hawaii’s extinct honeycreepers–and conservation can keep it that way.

Featured photo: I’iwi perching. Credit: Melissa McMasters

About Sara Kaiser

Sara received a BA in anthropology from UC Santa Cruz in 2014. As a freelance writer and editor, she seeks to produce and highlight stories that support ecological responsibility, body awareness, emotional intelligence, and creative action, and reveal the connections between them.

View All Posts

Follow Island Conservation on Social Media

[ism-social-followers list='fb,tw,li,youtube,instagram' template='ism_template_sf_1' list_align='horizontal' display_counts='false' display_full_name='true' box_align='center' ]

[ism-social-followers list='fb,tw,li,youtube,instagram' template='ism_template_sf_1' list_align='horizontal' display_counts='false' display_full_name='true' box_align='center' ]

Midway Atoll conservation

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this:

effective weight loss supplements plenity weight loss pill birth control pill weight loss laxative pills lose weight cheap weight loss supplement mediterranean diet plans weight loss baked potato diet weight loss best carb cycling diet book for weight loss fast weight loss diet and exercise plan popular weight loss supplement ads herbal life perfect keto diet pills keto pure diet pills south africa diet doctor keto recipes catfish green pill that helps you lose weight egg recipes for keto diet weight loss diet for ulcerative colitis spaghetti squash keto diet recipes vegetarian diet plan for weight loss fast reasonable diets to lose weight why weight loss diet doesnt work supplement drink to lose weight the u s weight loss diet control market webmd diet guide lose weight fast safely bupropion weight loss drug will i lose weight on the egg diet rabbit weight loss diet which diet allows me to lose weight fast keto diet pills for men greenleaf does adhd medicine cause weight loss best weight loss pills for mens belly fat fast teen weight loss diets how long do weight loss pills take to work about weight loss supplements lose weight diet plan for body type quiz caffeine supplements weight loss loss weight with papaya enzyme and garlic pills how much weight loss on sugar free diet high energy weight loss pills walmart coconut oil pills for weight loss reviews keto diet bbq recipes nutrafx water weight loss pills recipes for dinner on keto diet allergy pills weight loss keo diet weight loss surgery ingredients in ketone advanced weight loss pills rapid weight loss diets keto weight loss pills reddit do blood pressure pills help you lose weight diet weight loss slow water diet weight loss harmful dash diet plan weight loss what is the cost of quick weight loss supplements how to publish a weight loss diet book weight loss pills or supplements water retention pills to lose weight keto diet hamburger casserole recipes

native cbd oil cbd oil south dakota cbd gummies hemp bombs cbd oil laws in nc suzies cbd treats doterra oil not cbd cbd oil dosage for autism best price for cbd oil cbd oil legal in ct cbd drip platinum how to use cbd hemp oil vs cbd oil what does vaping cbd feel like reddit hale cbd oil cbd american shaman treasure valley cbd cbd oil sun prairie 510 cbd cartridge bars in the area selling cbd oil cbd peppermint oil can cbd oil help with memory loss cbd in breast milk las vegas cbd oil cbd degradation temperature cbd oil laws in alabama halo cbd oil bringing cbd oil through best cbd flower reddit where to buy cbd oil where to buy cbd in new york cbd oil salisbury nc 1 gram cbd isolate 24 hour pizza melbourne cbd cbd tincture vs isolate cbd oil for psoriasis before and after cbd oil for humans for sale the farm bill cbd ibm cbd glassdoor best cbd gel caps cbd sleeping pills cbd cbd oil how to tell if cbd oil is real does cbd oil work for toothache cbd oil breastfeeding 2020 cbd for stroke recovery cbd oil scottsdale charlottesweb cbd whole cbd oil what cbd company to invest in cbd oil in palm coast florida 7 11 cbd oil columbia mo oklahoma use of cbd oil cbd cannabidiol sioux falls cbd oil june 2020 herbal renewals cbd oil cbd anti inflammatory 2020 oil cbd oil label

male enhancement rhino blue diet pills name supplements to increase erection hydrocodone blue pill how male enhancement works do penis enlarging pills work where to buy vimax male enhancement rhino rush energy pills powerzen pill jaguaar pills for male enhancement bangladesh enlargement exercise derick brooks male enhancement proven ways to enlarge your penis baby blue pill blue pills for ed chinese male enhancement pills manufacturers little blue pill for anxiety sperimental with sex drive pills white pill with 20 on it male enhancement pills speedway pill price best enlargement pills otc erection pills pinterest penis enlargement surgery east coast what stores sell extenze pills rhino sexually pills reviews 50 om pill zeneohlux male enhancement male enhancement surgery medicare king penis pills male enhancement thong silicone penis enlargement price suisse male enhancement 82 monthly fix ed without drugs where to buy rx1 male enhancement pills praltrix male enhancement pills reviews green hornet drug bamboo extract penis enlargement mens action strips male enhancer chinese black ant pill teen old penis pills surgical penile enlargements pictures small green pill k 8 sildenafil citrate tablets 100mg pills to calm sex energy one more knight pill review 4 hour sex pills nitric oxide supplement dosage alternative pills to viagra vilexia male enhancement male enhancement pills erecks male enhancement pills right aid how to sell male enhancement pills male enhancement dubai do stiff nights sex pills give you diarrhea noxitril pills