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Ellen Paul

The Extinction of Hawaiian Birds

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"Here on the slopes of Mauna Loa, the kipuka were once part of a vast apron of forest until volcanic eruptions in the mid-1800s. The eruptions sent fingers of lava down the volcano and left a network of dozens of forest patches, some as small 50 by 50 feet, others larger than a 40-acre parcel. In these forest fragments, or kipuka, we can study something very rare: the long-term effects of natural forest fragmentation on an imperiled bird community. We have even begun to conduct some manipulative experiments, removing rats from some kipuka and leaving them in others, to monitor how food webs and birds respond.

 

Through this research, we hope to understand how native species in this forest survive in the face of introduced species like rats and mongoose, introduced diseases like avian malaria and environmental challenges like climate change."

 

http://scientistatwo...s-take-shelter/

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Since the early 1800s, the exotic Plasmodium and its tropical mosquito vector (Culex quinquefasciatus) have contributed to the extinction of at least a dozen endemic Hawaiian birds and have all but eliminated the remaining species from the warm lowlands.

 

View the full article on The New York Times' Scientist at Work blog

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