UH Hilo alumni group visits native forests of Hawai‘i Island

A group of UH Hilo alumni take a field trip to Hakalau Natural Wildlife Refuge and the kīpuka systems along Saddle Road to learn about native bird and rain forest conservation.

Bird banding
When the group met up with the researchers from USGS and UH Hilo there were a number of beautiful i‘iwi, ‘amakihi, and ‘apapane that had been captured in mistnets, waiting their turn to be banded and released.

In the Spring of 2014, the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Sciences graduate program at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo celebrated its 10th year with an annual research symposium and an alumni celebration.

As a part of the celebration, an excursion group (of alumni) had the opportunity to visit the native forests of Hawai‘i Island.

The first stop was Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, on the slopes of Maunakea.

Dr. Patrick Hart introduced the activities the group would experience at the visiting researchers’ bird-banding station.

Hakalau is one of the best places in the world to see a relatively intact community of native Hawaiian honeycreepers. When the group met up with the researchers from USGS and UH Hilo there were a number of beautiful i‘iwi, ‘amakihi, and ‘apapane that had been captured in mistnets, waiting their turn to be banded and released.

Graduate students Angela Beck and Joshua Pang-Ching were among the researchers answering questions.

The next stop was a a tour of the kīpuka system between Maunakea and Mauna Loa. The saddle road area has many fragmented forests, or kīpuka, that are hundreds or thousands of years old. The group hiked along the Kaumana Trail.

Dr. Elizabeth Stacy and graduate student Tomoko Sakashima describe the many forms of o‘hia and their research on the diverse tree species across the landscape of Hawai‘i.

Plants and animals rely on the misty rains to keep the habitat favorable.

Graduate student Matthew Mueller described his research on the elusive Hawaiian picture-wing Drosophila flies.

The trip into the deep forests of Hakalau Natural Wildlife Refuge and the kīpuka systems along saddle road opened up some of the secrets of the unique Hawaiian ecosystems.