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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

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

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

Dr. Jeferson Vizentin-Bugoni (Universidade Federal de Pelotas)

Jason Gleditsch (previous PhD student, UIUC)

Amy Hruska (previous PhD student, UH)

Funding sources:

SERDP logo
Departmet ofDefense logo
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