Endangered Species in the Pacific Islands
The Hawai‘i (Big Island) Plant Cluster Recovery Plan
The Hawai‘i Plant Cluster Recovery Plan addresses 22 plants from the island of Hawai‘i, also known as the Big Island.
Twenty-one are listed as endangered and 1 is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Thirteen additional endangered Big Island species were added in the addendum to the recovery plan in 1997.
The island of Hawai‘i is the largest, highest, and youngest of the Hawaiian Islands, and was formed by at least six volcanic mountains. As a result, the plants included in this plan grow in a variety of vegetative communities (grassland, shrubland, and forests), elevations (coastal to alpine), and moisture regimes (dry to wet).
Clermontia pyrularia - Photo credit Marie Bruegmann/USFWS
These plants are threatened by a variety of factors, such as habitat degradation by feral or domestic animals (goats, pigs, deer, cattle, and sheep), fire, introduced vegetation, and direct human disturbances such as recreational and military activities.
The recovery plan summarizes available information about each plant, reviews the threats posed to their continued existence, and lists management actions that are needed to remove these threats.
Habitat & Distribution:
Twelve of the 22 plants addressed in this plan are endemic to the Big Island; the others are known from the islands of Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, and/or Maui.
The highest priority for recovery of a species is to safeguard its existing gene pool by ensuring the survival of existing plants or populations through protection and management.
Threats to the plants may be addressed through fencing and/or hunting to control feral animals; control of alien plants; control of rodents and insects; control of disease; protection from fire; protection from human disturbance; collection, storage, and maintenance, and reintroduction of genetic material; and monitoring.
After known individuals or populations are protected, further surveys or inventories may be necessary to determine if additional plants exist in the wild.
Some organizations that have collected and germinated seeds of plants covered in this plan included the Volcano Rare Plant Facility on the Big Island, Lyon Arboretum on O‘ahu, and National Tropical Botanical Garden on Kaua‘i.