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Assessing the Potential Effects of Climate Change on Vegetation in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park

Assessing the Potential Impacts of Projected Climate Change on Vegetation Management Strategies within Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park

Dates

Start Date
2014-05-14
End Date
2016-05-14

Summary

Climate change in Hawai`i is expected to result in increasing temperatures and varying precipitation through the twenty-first century. Already, high elevation areas have experienced rapidly increasing temperatures and there has been an increase in the frequency of drought across the Islands. These climatic changes could have significant impacts on Hawai`i’s plants and animals. Changes in temperature and moisture may make current habitat no longer suitable for some species, and could allow invasive species to spread into new areas. Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is home to 23 species of endangered vascular plants and 15 species of endangered trees. Understanding how climate change may impact the park’s plants is vital for their long-term [...]

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Attached Files

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PI-2014-2_Acacia_Koa_in `Ola`a Tract_JimJacobi_USGS.jpg
“Acacia Koa in 'Ola'a tract - Credit: Jim Jacobi, USGS”
thumbnail 1.51 MB
PI-2014-2_AshDunes_in_KauDesert_JimJacobi_USGS.jpg
“Ash dunes in Kau Desert - Credit: Jim Jacobi, USGS”
thumbnail 354.77 KB
PI-2014-2_Clermontia_Molokai_JimJacobi_USGS.jpg
“Clermontia Molokai - Credit: Jim Jacobi, USGS”
thumbnail 448.6 KB
KilaueaVolcano_HIVolcanoesNP_AlanCressler.jpg
“Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - Credit: Alan Cressler”
thumbnail 286.66 KB

Purpose

Changing global climate conditions are becoming well documented in the scientific literature, with news stories mentioning that storm frequency and strength are increasing and changes in precipitation are leading to flooding in some areas and drought in other areas. Two major driving forces of climate change are temperature and precipitation. In Hawai`i, temperatures are expected to increase and precipitation decrease, which are likely to result in an increased frequency and intensity of droughts through the twenty-first century. These climate changes have potentially large impacts on Hawaiian plants and animals. Managers at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park want to know how climate change may shift plant distributions, especially in the highly managed Special Ecological Areas (SEAs), focal sites to manage rare and endangered plants. Results from this research will inform managers as to how vegetation types will migrate across the Park, and if species can successfully establish in more suitable sites. With our results, Park management may 1) prioritize the rank and management of existing SEAs; 2) determine new areas to improve and protect plants and communities that may benefit from SEA management or may require additional or changed management; and 3) develop a restoration plan for the Kahuku Unit.

Project Extension

projectStatusCompleted
parts
typeFY 14 COA ($119,774)
valueMS3590

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