Vegetation and non-native ungulate monitoring at the Big Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex 2010–2014.

Technical Report HCSU-062
By: , and 



The Hakalau Forest Unit (HFU) of Big Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex (BINWRC) has intensively managed feral cattle (Bos taurus) and pigs (Sus scrofa) and monitored non-native ungulate presence and distribution during surveys of all managed areas since 1988. We: 1) provide results from recent ungulate surveys at HFU to determine current feral pig abundance and distribution; 2) present results of surveys of ungulate presence and distribution at the Kona Forest Unit (KFU); 3) present results of surveys of weed presence and cover at both refuge units; and 4) present baseline results from long-term vegetation monitoring plots at KFU. Overall pig abundance appears to have decreased at HFU, although not significantly, over the period from 2010 to 2014. Management units 2 and 4 contained the majority of pigs at HFU. Pig density outside of adjacent managed areas has declined significantly from 2010 to 2014 for unknown reasons. Ungulate sign occurred in > 50% of plots at KFU during the November 2012 and September 2013 surveys, but ungulate sign occurred in < 28% of plots during three other surveys. The ability to differentiate sign of ungulate species remains problematic at KFU. Changes in weed cover do not yet demonstrate any strong temporal pattern. Spatial patterns are more pronounced; however, some weed species may not be reliably represented due to observers’ abilities to recognize less common weeds. Nonetheless, the distribution and cover of fireweed (Senecio madagascariensis) at KFU may have increased over the study period. Vegetation surveys documented baseline floristic composition and forest structure at KFU. It is not known if this current amount of emerging cover is sufficient for long-term self-sustaining forest canopy regeneration; however, numerous ‘ōhi‘a seedlings were found in the wet forest and mesic ‘ōhi‘a habitats, indicating an ample viable seed source and robust potential for forest regeneration.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Title Vegetation and non-native ungulate monitoring at the Big Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex 2010–2014.
Series title Technical Report
Series number HCSU-062
Volume 62
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher University of Hawaii at Hilo
Contributing office(s) Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center
Description iii, 28 p.
Country United States
State Hawaii
Other Geospatial Kona Forest Unit of the Big Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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