Modeling Vegetation Communities to Inform Restoration in Hawaiʻi

What Insights can Modeling Bring to Invasive Species and Climate Change in Hawaiʻi?

American Sāmoa | Wednesday, December 13 from 1:30-2:30 p.m.Hawaiʻi | Wednesday, December 13 from 2:30-3:30 p.m.Palau | Thursday, December 14 from 9:30-10:30 a.m.CNMI & Guam | Thursday, December 14 from 10:30-11:30 a.m.FSM | Thursday, December 14 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. (Weno) / 11:30 am-12:30 p.m. (Palikir)RMI | Thursday, December 14 from 12:30-1:30 p.m.

A Pacific RISCC Webinar via Zoom

Webinar Details:

This is a flyer for the December 2023 Pacific RISCC webinar showing pictures of the speaker, a title and talk description, and registration details.

Modeling Vegetation Communities to Inform Restoration, Invasive Species Management, and Climate Change

In this talk, Dr. Jonathan Price will discuss the results of a long-term research project to model the cover of key native and invasive plant species across the Hawaiian Islands to assess habitat quality, identify invasion potential, and anticipate shifting native and invasive community baselines.

Webinar Abstract:

Understanding past, present and future spatial distributions of Hawaiian plant species is key to management. However many species not only extend across a wide range of physical environments, but also vary widely in terms of local abundance (cover). We have compiled an extensive database of over 3,000 vegetation plots across Hawaiʻi to develop spatially explicit models of cover for key native and invasive species. We statistically relate vegetation cover values to biophysical variables including temperature, precipitation, cloud frequency, and substrate age, resulting in projections of potential cover that represent estimates of cover for dominant native species across Hawai‘i. One key result of these models is a spatially explicit quantification of the influence of cloud moisture (fog) on native plant distributions. This observed effect is independent of rainfall, and may be essential in modeling other climate-dependent species. By combining individual species models, we have also successfully modeled native community distributions that serve as a baseline to 1) assess habitat quality, 2) define specific ecological restoration objectives, and 3) identify the potential for key invasive species to threaten a site (even where they are presently not found). Future work will project abundances under climate change conditions to anticipate shifting baselines of native dominance and invasive threats.

Speaker details:

Dr. Jonathan Price is a Professor in Geography at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, Department of Geography and Environmental Science. He studies the biogeography and landscape ecology of plants in Hawaiʻi, including rare species, biodiversity hotspots, and restoration. For more information, check out his faculty video here (link), and a recent article from UH News about Dr. Price’s work being featured in the journal Nature (link).