Modeling future conservation of Hawaiian Honeycreepers by mosquito management and translocation of disease-tolerant Amakihi

PLoS ONE
By: , and 

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Abstract

Avian malaria is an important cause of the decline of endemic Hawaiian honeycreepers. Because of the complexity of this disease system we used a computer model of avian malaria in forest birds to evaluate how two proposed conservation strategies: 1) reduction of habitat for mosquito larvae and 2) establishment of a low-elevation, malaria-tolerant honeycreeper (Hawaii Amakihi) to mid-elevation forests would affect native Hawaiian honeycreeper populations. We evaluated these approaches in mid-elevation forests, where malaria transmission is seasonal and control strategies are more likely to work. Our model suggests the potential benefit of larval habitat reduction depends on the level of malaria transmission, abundance of larval cavities, and the ability to substantially reduce these cavities. Permanent reduction in larval habitat of >80% may be needed to control abundance of infectious mosquitoes and benefit bird populations. Establishment of malaria-tolerant Amakihi in mid-elevation forests increases Amakihi abundance, creates a larger disease reservoir, and increases the abundance of infectious mosquitoes which may negatively impact other honeycreepers. For mid-elevation sites where bird populations are severely affected by avian malaria, malaria-tolerant Amakihi had little impact on other honeycreepers. Both management strategies may benefit native Hawaiian honeycreepers, but benefits depend on specific forest characteristics, the amount of reduction in larval habitat that can be achieved, and how malaria transmission is affected by temperature.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Modeling future conservation of Hawaiian Honeycreepers by mosquito management and translocation of disease-tolerant Amakihi
Series title PLoS ONE
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0049594
Volume 7
Issue 11
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher PLoS One
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description e49594; 9 p.
Country United States
State Hawai'i
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N