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Hawaiian honeycreepers on the verge of collapse

Cara J

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Hawaiian native forest bird species such as the endangered akikiki (Oreomystis bairdi) and ‘akeke‘e (Loxops caeruleirostris) occupy specialized habitat on the Alaka’i Plateau on the island of Kauai. However, these birds are on the verge of collapse due to range decline and threats from disease and invasive species. A recent study published in Science Advances estimates approximately 468 akikiki and 945 ‘akeke‘e remained in 2012. As part of the study, researchers examined forest bird data, which volunteers collected on the island of Kauai from 1981 to 2012. Most of the range-restricted forest bird species are limited to an area of 64 kilometers. “What we found was that in recent years, there have been dramatic declines,” said lead author Eben Paxton, an avian ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Pacific Island Ecosystem Research Center and a member of The Wildlife Society. In fact, over the last three decades or so, there has been a 94 percent decline in the outermost area of the birds’ range and a 64 percent decline in their core area. Further, the team found the declines have accelerated between 2000 and 2012 by up to as much as 6 percent. “We can’t predict the future,” Paxton said. [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/hawaiian-honeycreepers-on-the-verge-of-collapse-2/

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