Avian Presence, Restoration, and Indigenous Agriculture

IMG_0074.jpeg

Approximately 15% of wetlands have been lost across Hawai‘i since the industrial era, with ~44% of the total loss occurring in coastal areas, contributing to the listing of Hawaiian waterbird species as Endangered. However, the height of historical waterbird populations corresponded with the height of Hawaiian social-ecological systems due to the ability of indigenous flooded-field systems (lo`i) to provide foraging and nesting habitat. This study aims to understand the relationship between waterbird life cycles and management cycles within the agro-ecosystem as a means to assess the potential of lo‘i restoration to contribute to waterbird recovery. Observations in 2019 revealed 'ae'o (Himantopus mexicanus knudseni) and 'alae 'ula (Gallinula galeata sandvicensis), both disturbance-adapted species, partitioned the lo`i habitat temporally and spatially according to managed succession within the agro-ecosystem, which mimics the disturbance regimes these waterbirds evolved in. Results from this study are important for informing management decisions regarding both loʻi kalo and waterbird populations and may help influence policies that allow waterbird populations to once again thrive alongside human populations.