Project

Assessing Viability of the Haleakalā Silversword to Uncover the Effects of Climate Change on Hawaiˈi’s High-Elevation Ecosystems

Project Summary

Affiliation(s): Pacific Islands CSC, Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative

Principal Investigator(s):
  • Paul D. Krushelnycky (University of Hawai‘i-Mānoa)
  • Lloyd L Loope (U.S. Geological Survey, Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center)

Maui’s threatened Haleakalā silversword forms the foundation of a diverse high-elevation community on Haleakalā, and is an ideal species for assessing how this ecosystem is responding to climate change. The silversword’s striking appearance makes it one of Hawaiʻi’s most recognizable species, and it is one of the main attractions drawing 1-2 million tourists to Haleakalā National Park each year. The plant was once considered a conservation success, when active management led to a population recovery in the early 20th century. Unfortunately, silversword populations are now declining, and climate change – namely decreasing precipitation and increasing temperatures – is thought to be responsible.
 
The goal of this project is to collect data on both silverswords and climate conditions to pinpoint the exact cause of silversword declines and to predict how the species will fare under potential future climate scenarios. Researchers will then identify management strategies that might help restore silversword populations. So far, results show that silversword populations have declined by about 60% since 1990, and that this decline coincides with lower rainfall.
 
The prominence of the silversword within the Hawaiian alpine ecosystem renders it one of the more visible examples of climate change-induced biodiversity loss. Identifying the specific climatic variables that are contributing to the silversword population decline will help Park managers determine which management actions will be necessary to protect this iconic species into the future. 

This project was selected and co-funded in partnership with the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative.

Haleakala Silversword, Maui - Credit: Paul Krushelnycky

Affiliation(s): Pacific Islands CSC, Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative

Principal Investigator(s):
  • Paul D. Krushelnycky (University of Hawai‘i-Mānoa)
  • Lloyd L Loope (U.S. Geological Survey, Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center)
Cooperator(s)/Partner(s):
  • Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative
  • Thomas Giambelluca (Department of Geography, University of Hawai`i at Honolulu)
  • Donald Drake (Department of Botany, University of Hawai`i at Honolulu)
  • Stephen Anderson (Vegetation Management Program, Haleakala National Park)
  • Matt Brown (Resources Management Division, Haleakala National Park)

Start Date: September 2012

End Date: June 2016

Project Status: Completed

Tags: population models, Climate change, Trees, CSC, Pacific Islands CSC, 2012, Wildlife and Plants, Plants

Fiscal Year: FY 2012 Projects

Publications & Other

  • Change in trade wind inversion frequency implicated in the decline of an alpine plant

      • Climate-associated population declines reverse recovery and threaten future of an iconic high-elevation plant

          • Evaluating the Interacting Influences of Pollination, Seed Predation, Invasive Species and Isolation on Reproductive Success in a Threatened Alpine Plant

              • Final Project Report for "Assessing Viability of the Haleakalā Silversword to Uncover the Effects of Climate Change on Hawaiˈi’s High-Elevation Ecosystems"

                • PICSC Final Report Krushelnycky HALE_Silverswords 2016 10 24.pdf (Download)
                  • Global Warming May Have Severe Consequences for Rare Haleakala Silverswords

                      • Hawai'i Public Radio Feature with Pauk Krushelnycky: Shifting Climate Patterns Threatening Native Silverswords

                        • Native silverswords threatened by shifting climate patterns

                          • Project Snapshot: Assessing Viability of the Haleakalā Silversword to Uncover the Effects of Climate Change on Hawaiˈi’s High-Elevation Ecosystems

                            • PICSC_ResearchFeature_Krushelnycky_HALE_Silverswords.pdf (Download)
                            • Temporal solar radiation change at high elevations in Hawai‘i

                                Data

                                • Silversword datasets

                                  Download all map files

                                  • Study_area.shp [x-gis/x-shapefile] (Download)
                                  • Study_area.dbf [application/octet-stream] (Download)
                                  • Study_area.shx [x-gis/x-shapefile] (Download)
                                  • Study_area.prj [text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1] (Download)