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Cattle destruction in Koa Forest

Over the last 100 years, introduced feral pigs, creating wallows and other mosquito breeding sites atincreasingly higher elevations, have allowed tropical mosquitoes to become adapted to cooler temperatures and higher elevations, carrying avian diseases with them. Recent studies have shown that native birds, like Iiwi, have nearly 100% Banana poka infesting koa forestmortality within 2-3 weeks after one bite from a malarial mosquito. Today, because of mosquito borne diseases, nativebirds are rarely found below 4,500 feet, the current upper range of the Culex mosquito.
 
Predators such as mongoose, black rats and cats, as well as the avian diseases, and their vectors, mosquitoes, were introduced in the mid- 1800’s with devastating results. Out of 140 bird species found in Hawaii in 1790’s, half are extinct today. Of the remaining bird species, Feral pig feeding on native tree fernalmost half are endangered.

Since their introduction over 200 years ago, introduced mammals such as cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, deer, and donkeys have ravaged Hawaii’s native forests causing habitat loss, contributing to the extinction crisis. Uncontrolled grazing and rooting has reduced or eliminated many native plants, allowing alien plants to get a foothold in native ecosystems, further degrading native forests. Since native plants evolved without defenses, introduced grazers found the forests to be a veritable salad bar, quickly leading to degradation of all forest habitats. Today, less than 10% of Hawaii’s original native dry forest, and less than 50% of other native forests, Apapane with biting mosquitoremain. Most of these remaining forests are severally degraded.
 
Alien birds, wasps, even rats, compete with native forest birds for limited food resources. Non-native weedy habitat modifiers such as banana poka, and Miconia from South America, pines and tropical trees from around the world, brought in by unsuspecting foresters 75 years ago to provide timber resources, all continue to contribute to the degradation of Hawaii’s native ecosystems. As a result, many native bird species are being squeezed into the remaining mid- elevation habitat because of lack of habitat above, and disease below. Not good!!

 

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