Rebecca Ostertag (University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo), Susan Cordell (USDA Forest Service at the Institute of Pacific Island Forestry) and Peter Vitousek (Stanford University) are the principal investigators. Other UH Hilo team members include Nicole DiManno, and formerly Jodie Schulten. Other Forest Service staff include Amanda Uowolo and formerly Taite Winthers-Barcelona and Laura Warman. Other Stanford people include Bill Buckley- our chainsaw-meister and artist extraordinaire, and Donnie Rayome, our new postdoc.

We’ve had many interns work on the project. Funding was provided by the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP), which is administered by the Department of Defense (Grant # RC-2117) Importantly, we’ve had an amazing group of volunteers, visitors and interns without whose help we would not have gotten as far as we have!

Thank you all!

Native + Exotic Species

Avocado (exotic)

We are using a mix of native and exotic species because native species alone (at least in KMR) are unable to maintain their recruitment levels and keep the invasive species out. Previous work at KMR has shown that invasive species quickly recolonize plots after removal. Although maintaining plots relatively weed-free becomes a lot easier after the invasive seed bank is exhausted, this still involves hundreds of intensive people-hours in the field. This is not feasible for KMR either from an ecological or economic perspective. It’s not that we don’t think native species should be used… we just think restoring this site to a functional forest (which includes native species, and their seedling recruitment) is more feasible if we mix native and exotic species.

Milo (native)

Based on species traits, our hypothesis is that using a mixture of species will create a more diverse and complementary “trait space”, than if we just used native species. In other words, it will be harder for the invasive species to get a foothold and outcompete the rest of the plants in a “hybrid” community than in a solely native one. This means that our hybrid communities should be able to sustain themselves with a lot less management (after the initial push) than a community made up only of native species. An important thing to mention is that we are not even thinking of introducing new species to the Big Island! All of the species considered have been here for quite some time, have shown not to be invasive here, and, in many cases, are already found in East Hawaiʻi Island.

ʻŌhiʻa Lehua (yellow, native)

Plants found in plot treatments include:

Download plant species flashcards! (ZIP file)

For more photos of the project, visit the gallery

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