Quantifying Dispersal Behavior of Hawaiian Gallinules to predict impacts of land use and climate change

Principal Investigator(s):

Charles van Rees, Dr. J. Michael Reed


Department of Biology, Tufts University, Medford, MA

Project Term:

2014 - 2015

The authors received $3000 from the Blake-Nuttall fund to support the 2015 summer field season studying the movement of the Hawaiian gallinule, an endangered, endemic wetland bird on the island of O`ahu, Hawai`i (USA). C. van Rees traveled to O`ahu on May 4, and remained there until July 22. During that time, 76 new individual birds were captured and banded, expanding a mark-recapture study started the previous year to approximately 183 individuals. Of these individuals, feather samples were taken from 75 birds for genetic analysis of population structure. van Rees and Reed started a collaboration with Dr. Eben Paxton (U.S. Geological Survey), who is constructing a network of automated telemetry towers to study the movement of two other waterbird species (Hawaiian stilt, Himantopus mexicanus knudseni, and Hawaiian coot, Fulica alai). They constructed a tower at a major Hawaiian gallinule habitat and deployed coded transmitters on 3 Hawaiian gallinules as part of a pilot study. The birds’ movements are still being successfully detected using the tower and both state and federal agencies have tentatively committed funding to expanding the network of transmitter detection towers. On July 23, van Rees left Hawai`i and traveled to Anchorage, Alaska (USA) where he worked with research geneticist Dr. Sarah Sonsthagen (U.S. Geological Survey) to analyze feather samples collected in the field. All laboratory work was completed by August 11, and statistical analyses will be completed by August 28, when van Rees returns to Massachusetts. While in Hawai`i, van Rees mentored 3 undergraduate research assistants and two volunteer birdwatchers, including 3 women interested in pursuing careers in STEM fields and 3 individuals of Native Hawaiian descent.

Project Report: Quantifying Dispersal Behavior of Hawaiian Gallinules to predict impacts of land use and climate change

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