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Title: Long-term response of the mamane forest to feral herbivore management on Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Author: Reddy, E.; Van Vuren, D. H.; Scowcroft, P. G.; Kauffman, J. B.; Perry, L.;

Date: 2012

Source: Pacific Conservation Biology

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Seven exclosure sites located on Mauna Kea, Hawaii and established in the 1960s and 70s were sampled to characterize long-term response of the mamane (Sophora chrysophylla) forest to protection from feral sheep grazing, and to assess impacts of non-native plant species and recurrent sheep presence on forest recovery. The forest provides essential habitat for an endangered bird, the palila (Loxoides bailleui). Vegetation was sampled inside exclosures during 1972–1976, 1998, and 2009, and also outside exclosures during 2009. Patterns of response varied among exclosures, but overall, mamane trees and native shrubs showed increasing cover between the 1970s and 1998, then a slowed rate of increase in cover or a decline between 1998 and 2009. Cover of native herbaceous vegetation showed variable trends between the 1970s and 1998, and then appeared to decline between 1998 and 2009. Mamane height class distributions inside exclosures indicated that recruitment was initially high but then declined as heights shifted toward larger size classes, and presumably an older age distribution. We found limited evidence of a negative effect of non-native species on forest regrowth, but the effect was not consistent over time or among sites. Recurrent sheep presence outside exclosures negatively affected mamane canopy density and perhaps tree density at all sites, and mamane condition at some sites. Our results indicate that the mamane forest has shown substantial regrowth inside exclosures at some sites, especially those protected the longest. However, these exclosures represent a small portion of the mamane forest. Sheep presence continues to impact mamane recovery outside exclosures, and thus habitat quality for the palila.

Keywords: Mamane, forest recovery, herbivore damage, sheep, palila, non-native plants

Publication Notes:

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Reddy, E.; Van Vuren, D. H.; Scowcroft, P. G.; Kauffman, J. B.; Perry, L. 2012. Long-term response of the mamane forest to feral herbivore management on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Pacific Conservation Biology 18(2):123-132.

 


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