Endangered Species in the Pacific Islands
The Kaua‘i Plant Cluster Recovery Plan
This recovery plan covers 37 plant taxa that were added to the federal list of endangered and threatened species in 6 separate listing actions.
The Kaua‘i plant cluster taxa are scattered throughout the island in diverse ecosystems. All but 7 of the taxa are or were found only on the island of Kaua‘i. Nineteen additional endangered Kaua‘i species were added to the addendum to the recovery plan in 1998.
The objective of this plan is to provide a framework for the recovery of these 37 taxa so that their protection by the Endangered Species Act is no longer necessary. This plan details the life history, habitat, reasons for decline, and conservation efforts for each plant.
Brighamia insignis - Photo credit Marie Bruegmann/USFWS
Habitat & Distribution:
The island of Kaua‘i is the northernmost and oldest of the Hawaiian Islands chain. Because of its age and relative isolation, Kaua‘i has the most diverse collection of plant species of any island in Hawai‘i.
However, the vegetation has undergone extreme alterations because of past and present land use, alien species impacts, and major hurricanes.
The taxa included in this plan grow in a variety of vegetation and elevations. A detailed habitat description for each species can be found in the plan.
The majority of habitat for the Kaua‘i plant cluster occurs on lands owned and managed by the State of Hawai‘i. All of this land is under protective status in the form of State Parks, Natural Area Reserves, Wilderness Preserves, and Forest Reserves.
The plan for recovery begins with the protection and management of current habitats of the taxa. Current threats to the species are addressed through fencing and/or hunting to control ungulates; control of alien plants; protection from fires; control of rodents and slugs; control of insects pests and disease; protection from human disturbance; collection, storage, and maintenance of genetic material; and a comprehensive monitoring program.
A research program is also recommended to study things like growth and reproductive viability of each taxon, and possible pests and diseases. A program of augmentation of very small populations and reestablishment of new populations within the historical range of the species is also needed. Seeds and/or plants of some of these species have been collected by organizations such as the National Tropical Botanical Garden, Waimea Arboretum, Kokee Rare Plant Facility, and Lyon Arboretum, and many of them have been successfully propagated.
The recovery plan also recognizes the need for a public education program to increase awareness and support for plant protection efforts.