NAVIGATING A PATH TO RECOVERY FOR KIWIKIU: A HAWAIIAN FINCH IN PERIL
|Laura K Berthold; Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project/Research Corp of UH; firstname.lastname@example.org; Hanna L. Mounce, Chris C. Warren, Hillary M. Foster, Lainie Berry
The kiwikiu (Pseudonestor xanthophrys) is an endangered Hawaiian finch endemic to the island of Maui. With little prior known about the species, we started to study kiwikiu in 2006. We used color-banding, resighting, and nest searching to monitor density, productivity, and survivorship to illuminate the limiting factors for the species. Unfortunately, their population is still in decline, with 108–202 individuals left. In 2019, we attempted to establish a second population of kiwikiu. Over ten years in the making with steps including fencing, ungulate and weed removal, and forest restoration, 14 kiwikiu were translocated. All but two died from avian malaria, a non-native disease spread by invasive mosquitoes that had expanded into higher elevations due to climate change. The translocation awakened the possibility that kiwikiu may have few years left before extinction. Fortunately, recent population assessments found that disease has not covered the entirety of the current range yet and kiwikiu are still persisting. Their recovery is now dependent on landscape-level disease control, a tool still under development. Until mosquito control is implemented and other management tools become available, we are monitoring disease abundance, controlling non-native predators, establishing a viable population in captive care, and evaluating the possibility of translocation to another island.