Environmental Care

Invasive Species Threats

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ʻAʻole Ants! (No Ants!)

Maunakea is one of the few places in the State where invasive ants are not established.

No Ants All ants in Hawaiʻi are introduced. Ants are often destructive, competitive predators, many of which can survive at high elevations. The Argentine Ant (Linepithema humile), for example, which is established at Pu’uhuluhulu and Maunakea County Park (popular nearby stopping points for visitors coming up to Maunakea), is known to thrive at high elevation and has become a dominant pest species at Haleakalā National Park on Maui.

There have been many studies showing the impacts of ants on Hawaiian ecosystems. Not only do they compete with native Hawaiian animals, they can also eliminate Hawaiian plants that rely on those native animals for pollination, reproduction, and survival.

Ants are spread primarily by humans: on plant materials, vehicles, supplies, food, etc. Please help us protect the Hawaiian plants, birds, and arthropods on Maunakea by checking vehicles and supplies for ants before coming up. If you see an ant while on the mountain, tell a Maunakea Ranger immediately. Mahalo nui!

No Dirty Vehicles!

Please ensure that your vehicle and personal gear are clean and free of invasive species (i.e. ants, insects, plant seeds, or mud and dirt that can carry these). If your vehicle is muddy, it will not be allowed up to the summit until it is cleaned at a lower elevation. See the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) linked below for detailed procedures and instructions.

Ungulates

A herd of sheep stand in the grasslands The Māmane woodlands once stretched from sea level on the leeward side of Maunakea to the tree line, but have been greatly reduced due to habitat alteration at lower elevations and uncontrolled grazing at higher elevations by feral sheep (Ovis aries), mouflon sheep (O. musimon), and goats (Capra hircus). Populations of Maunakea silversword have been drastically reduced by ungulate grazing. Although attempts have been made to control such grazing, the forest has not fully recovered due to continued browsing of ungulates and the presence of invasive plants that inhibit Māmane regeneration.

Invasive Plants

Silversword growing on Maunakea Invasive plants include common mullein (Verbascum thapsus), fireweed (Senecio madagascariensis), ripgut brome (Bromus diandrus), orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata), hairy cats-ear (Hypochoeris radicata), alfilaria (Erodium cicutarium), sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella), common groundsel (Senecio vulgaris), common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), and telegraph plant (Heterotheca grandiflora). Invasive plant species pose a great threat to native species because they compete with native species for limited resources such as water and sheltered growing locations, tend to reproduce faster than native species, and provide habitat for other non-native species such as insects.

Invasive Birds and Small Mammals

Maunakea is also home to many species of non-native birds and mammals. Invasive predators such as cats, rats, barn owls, and mongoose have a direct impact on native bird populations. Cats and mongoose eat both adult birds and chicks, while rats primarily consume eggs (and sometimes chicks). Non-native birds compete with native birds for resources such as food and can act as a food base for predators, which consume both native birds in addition to non-native species.