Our project focuses on understanding patterns and causes of recent population declines in the Haleakala silversword that are associated with decreasing precipitation, increasing temperature, and related climate changes in Hawaii’s high-elevation ecosystems. The Haleakala silversword is an ideal taxon with which to assess impacts from climate change. It forms the foundation of a diverse alpine community and likely reflects wider ecological changes; it is already exhibiting patterns of mortality consistent with an upslope shifting distribution; and its high visibility and symbolic status make it unmatched in educational potential. Building on extensive research infrastructure, we propose to collect the demographic and climate data needed to construct a robust population model and make future population projections under different climate scenarios. In addition, we propose to conduct a range of seedling drought tolerance experiments to clarify causes of recent widespread mortality, and determine methods most likely to lead to restoration success.
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