Restoration Ecology in Hawaii

Ciao Hawaii
by -- March 26th, 2013

Day four of our Hawaii trip included the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, where we witnessed shorebird restoration efforts and were able to see several endangered bird species, including the Hawaiian state bird nēnē, or Hawaiian goose and the mōlī, or Laysan Albatross (pictured below).   Kilauea Point is home to 5 endangered bird species and offers a jaw dropping view of Hanalei Bay and a ridge home to thousands of shorebirds.

The Hawaiian Islands are known to have the largest number of endemic bird species worldwide.  Nonetheless, human intervention, habitat destruction and invasive species, have also made it the world’s hotspot for bird species extinction.   Invasive species are a critical issue, and include the barn owl, avian disease carrying mosquitoes, mongoose, pigs, and feral cats.

We also visited the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge, which is an example of wetland restoration supporting endangered bird species, such as the koloa maoli (Hawaiian duck) and the ‘alae ke’oke’o (Hawaiian coot).

Restoration tasks ahead seem herculean.  However, the trip offered exposure to restoration efforts lead by several organizations and individuals, which provide a positive light to the subject.  Most importantly, it allowed us to understand and appreciate field work and the people behind these efforts.  Applying knowledge acquired at class to actually being in the field, working hand in hand with experts, was priceless.

The Hawaii trip offered by the DEL program far exceeded my expectations.  I highly encourage other students to sign up.  It provides a practical approach to classroom time and exposure to local cultures and how they should always be considered in any restoration effort.

One of my fondest takeaways are the strong friendship bonds with my colleagues and professors.  I will have many fun stories to tell for quite a while and memories to cherish.

I planted an endangered species tree in Limahuli, which I named Fabio.  I look forward to someday coming back and finding it taller and stronger, although hopefully, without the long hair.

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