Abstract Detail

Extreme conservation measures for plants at the extremes in the Hawaiian archipelago model system

Nyberg, Ben [1], Williams, Adam M. [2], Winter, Kawika [3].

Unmanned Aircraft Systems and the Future of Botanical Conservation: A Case Study of a Cliff-Dwelling Island Endemic.

The Hawaiian Islands, famous for their remoteness and renowned for their high rates of endemism, also bear the unfortunate distinction of having the most Endangered species within the United States. Kauai, the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands, is home to many rare plants with habitats restricted to highly eroded, steep and often vertical cliffs and ridges. The National Tropical Botanical Garden has been collecting rare plant data in Hawai`i for over 40 years, and when this information is paired with GIS technology, predictive indices can be created. Resulting predictive models indicate that native cliff habitats have a high probability for persisting populations of rare plant species yet surveying these areas has historically been difficult and treacherous. UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) have provided a platform for in-depth inventory and monitoring of cliff habitat, while also allowing us to test the effectiveness of the predictive models. In the last several years, development of these techniques has led to the discovery of new Endangered plant populations and range extensions for multiple rare plant species on Kauai. We continue to refine the use of UAS in combination with rope-trained field botanists by focusing on the Endangered Wilkesia hobdyi (Asteraceae), a conspicuous, cliff-dwelling Kauai endemic in the Silversword radiation. When utilized for survey and mapping, the UAS has led to nearly a ten-fold increase in known plants, detailed maps of individuals and populations, and has allowed for remote observation of phenology. On the ground, the drone assists in locating fruiting plants and guiding collectors directly to them, greatly improving safety and efficiency while working on ropes, and leading to improved collections for ex situ conservation facilities. Building on these successes will allow for future habitat assessment and niche modeling to inform climate change adaptation efforts and guide in situ restoration activities.

1 - National Tropical Botanical Garden, Science and Conservation, 3530 Papalina rd., Kalaheo, HI, 96741, USA
2 - State of Hawaii, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, 4398 Pua Loke St # D, Lihue, HI, 96766, USA
3 - Heeia National Estuarine Research Reserve, 46-007 Lilipuna Road, Kaneohe, HI, 96744, USA

ex situ conservation.

Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Session: COL05, Extreme conservation measures for plants at the extremes in the Hawaiian archipelago model system
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Wednesday, July 29th, 2020
Time: 1:45 PM
Number: COL05005
Abstract ID:475
Candidate for Awards:None

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