Seasonality and prevalence of pollen collected from Hawaiian nectarivorous birds

Pacific Science
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Hawaiian nectarivorous forest birds play a vital ecological role as pollinators in Hawaiian ecosystems. However, little is known about what nectar resources are utilized by Hawai‘i’s nectarivorous birds, how seasonality influences nectar availability, and how nectar preference differs by bird species. We sampled pollen from the heads of ‘i‘iwi (Drepanis coccinea), ‘apapane (Himatione sanguinea), Hawai‘i ‘amakihi (Chlorodrepanis virens), and the non-native Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicas) captured at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge on Hawai‘i Island. ‘Ōhi‘a (Metrosideros polymorpha) was the most prevalent pollen species, observed throughout the sampling period while other pollen species were more seasonal in occurrence. Consistent with the peak flowering phenology of the plant species, pollen from koa (Acacia koa), māmane (Sophora chrysophylla), and gorse (Ulex europaeus) plant species were more commonly sampled from birds in the winter months, while ‘ōhelo (Vaccinium reticulatum), ‘ākala (Rubus hawaiensis), and blackberry (Rubus argutus) were more prevalent during the spring months. We also found an association between bird species and pollen resources, with ‘i‘iwi and Hawai‘i ‘amakihi having a higher diversity of pollen than ‘apapane and Japanese white-eye, which primarily had just ‘ōhi‘a. These results demonstrate that ‘ōhi‘a is likely the most important nectar resource for Hawai‘i’s nectar feeding birds, but seasonally abundant nectar may be important for some species.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Seasonality and prevalence of pollen collected from Hawaiian nectarivorous birds
Series title Pacific Science
DOI 10.2984/73.2.1
Volume 73
Issue 2
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher BIOONE
Contributing office(s) Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center
Description 11 p.
First page 187
Last page 197
Country United States
State Hawaii
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