Long-term population changes of native and introduced birds in the Alaka'i Swamp, Kaua'i

Jeffrey T. Foster, Erik J. Tweed, Richard J. Camp, Bethany L. Woodworth, Corey D. Adler, Tom Telfer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Within the last 30 years, five endemic bird species of the Alaka'i Swamp, Kaua'i, Hawai'i, have likely gone extinct. We documented population trends of the remaining avifauna in this time period to identify a common pattern in the Hawaiian Islands: decline of native species and expansion of introduced species. We conducted bird surveys over 100 km2 of the Alaka'i and Kōke'e regions of Kaua'i in March-April 2000 to estimate population size, distribution, and range limits of seven native and six introduced forest birds. We compared the results with four previous surveys conducted over the last 30 years. Five of the seven native species we studied have fared well, maintaining sizeable populations (> 20,000 individuals) and unchanged or increasing numbers. The endemic 'Akikiki (Oreomystis bairdi), however, declined from 6296 (SE ± 1374) to 1472 (SE ± 680) individuals and exhibited range contraction from 88 to 36 km2. The 'I'iwi (Vestiaria coccinea) also experienced a decline and contraction, though not as severe. Populations of several introduced forest birds are increasing, but all species, excluding the Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonicus), were at low numbers (<5,500 individuals in survey area). One introduced species, the Japanese Bush-Warbler (Cettia diphone) recently invaded, whereas another, the Red-billed Leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea), has been extirpated. Two hurricanes in the past 20 years appear to have most strongly affected nectarivores and may have contributed to the decline or extinction of several other species. Overall, native bird populations on Kaua'i have exhibited species-specific responses to limiting factors. Although most native populations appear stable, the extant native avifauna is vulnerable as a result of limited distributions and the potential for widespread habitat degradation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)716-725
Number of pages10
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2004


  • Alaka'i Swamp
  • Endangered birds
  • Exotic species
  • Island populations
  • Range contraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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