Hawaii VINE Project

Using multiple sites across the island of Oahu, the Hawaii VINE (Vertebrate Introductions and Novel Ecosystems) Project examines [1] how the structure and dynamics of seed dispersal networks vary across ecological contexts, [2] how seed dispersal competence of non-native species varies across ecological contexts to influence ecosystem functioning, and [3] how ecosystem functioning is maintained across new spatial and temporal extents.

The Hawaiian Islands are both the extinction and invasive species capitals of the world. The result has been Hawaiian ecosystems fundamentally changed in form; that is, ecosystems replete with a mix of novel and native species. Most native Hawaiian plant species are bird-dispersed, yet no native avian dispersers remain in most Hawaiian ecosystems. Thus, ecosystem functioning will only be maintained by the handful of invasive vertebrate dispersers that now reside on the islands, most of which are birds. The Hawaii VINE Project seeks to determine how well different species of non-native birds disperse native plant species across environments, whether non-native rat species have a cumulative positive (via seed dispersal) or negative (via predation on bird seed-dispersers and/or via seed predation) impact on plant communities, and creating predictive models to be used to improve non-native plant management plans, while facilitating the recovery of native threatened, endangered, and at-risk plants.


The Hawaii VINE Project relies on extensive field-based data collection (collected year-round for four years), including diet sampling, behavioral observations of birds and rats, small mammal and bird censusing, and field experiments. We apply ecological modeling techniques such as hierarchical occupancy modeling and movement ecology models to describe and quantify seed dispersal effectiveness in novel Hawaiian communities.

Workers setting up telemetry towers

PI Dr. Corey Tarwater with Ph.D. student Rebecca Wilcox assembling an antennae array for an automaterd radiotelemetry system used to track birds.

Participants of VINE symposium

The VINE team, 2015

Measuring a bird using calipers

Workers measuring a bird

Bands and banding pliers

Red-billed leiothrix

Guava fruits, partically eaten

Schinus terebinthifolius

Schinus terebinthifolius

Rubus rosifolius

Holding a shama for banding

View of vegetation and mountains

A Captured melodius laughing thrush

Worker measuring a bird

Marilou inspecting seedlign growth

Red-vented bulbul

Fecal samples stored in a ziploc bag

Inspecting a bird wing

Leptecophylla tameiameiae

Measuring a Japanese white-eye

Discussing how to radiotrack a bird

Jason with his aviaries

Workers processing captured birds

View of the ocean

Clidemia hirta, an invasive plant

Fruit of Dianella sandwicensis

Please visit and like the Hawaii VINE Project Facebook page by clicking on the graphic at right. There, you will receive notifications about field work and publications.

Hawaii VINE Facebook logo

Dr. Jeff Foster (Northern Arizona University, NAU): lab website

Dr. Patrick Kelley (University of Wyoming)

Dr. Jinelle Sperry (ERDC-CERL; University of Illinoius): lab website

Dr. Don Drake (University of Hawaii): lab website

Dr. Brett Dickson (NAU; Conservation Science Partners): website

Rebecca Wilcox (Ph.D. student, University of Wyoming)

Sam Case (Ph.D. student, University of Wyoming)

Funding sources:

© 2018 by Corey Tarwater. Created on the Wix.com framework.

Contact information

Department of Zoology & Physiology
University of Wyoming
1000 E. University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071, USA

Email: corey.tarwater [at] uwyo.edu