Development of new technologies and techniques to advance wildlife monitoring and improve management of endangered Hawaiian bird species in a changing climate

A small yellow bird perches on green leaves.
Hundreds of native Hawaiian birds, like this ʻAkekeʻe, are critically endangered due to invasive pressures and mosquito-borne diseases. (Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service)

Mosquito-borne disease is the biggest threat to Hawai‘i’s remaining native forest birds, of which more than half are listed as threatened or endangered. Currently, disease-carrying mosquitoes are unable to expand into cooler, high-elevation forests, but as the islands warm due to climate change, mosquitoes are steadily moving into the last native bird strongholds. Mosquito suppression efforts are planned for three Hawaiian Islands; however, there is currently no monitoring program in place to assess the effectiveness of this strategy. To address this pressing need, researchers are working to develop new monitoring tools and protocols that will provide managers with accurate information on changes in bird abundances associated with climate change and conservation actions across the archipelago.

Recent advances in technology have made it possible to monitor bird populations using a combination of automated devices that record the sounds of the forest, or soundscapes, and machine-learning algorithms that can rapidly identify birds singing within those soundscapes. Researchers are using these technologies to 1) analyze historical and current soundscape data to better understand how bird populations trends have changed over time in areas where mosquito suppression is planned, and 2) track how bird populations respond to climate change and conservation efforts, such as forest restoration and mosquito suppression.

With multiple bird species’ extinctions possible within our lifetime this study will provide wildlife managers with critical information for making informed decisions on how best to implement conservation strategies. Specifically, the results can be used to direct mosquito suppression efforts to areas that are in greatest need of conservation.





Patrick Hart
Professor of Biology, UH Hilo


Amanda Navine
Ann Tanimoto-Johnson
Bret Mossman
Hawaiʻi Island Avian Technician, DOFAW


Rick Camp
Lisa Crampton
Kauaʻi Forest Bird Recovery Project
Hanna Mounce
Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project
Ryan Monello