by Jennifer Donovan
Honeycreepers not only survive in the fragmented forest caused by lava flows more than 150 years ago, some also seem to have found ways to thrive there.
David Flaspohler, a professor in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, and Jessie Knowlton, a postdoctoral researcher in his lab, are trying to figure out why. What helps—or harms—these birds in the “kipukas,” a Hawaiian word for the forested patches created by lava flowing through densely treed land?
Funded by the National Science Foundation, the researchers are examining thirty-four kipukas ranging in size from one-quarter acre to 150 acres in a remote, protected area on the Big Island of Hawaii, where the human footprint has been minimal.
Kipukas are home to native vegetation, insects, rare birds like the honeycreepers, and . . .