Nesting Success of a Hawaiian Honeycreeper Along an Altitudinal Gradient of Culicine Mosquitoes

EPA Grant Number: U915576
Title: Nesting Success of a Hawaiian Honeycreeper Along an Altitudinal Gradient of Culicine Mosquitoes
Investigators: Nielsen, Bonnie M.
Institution: University of Idaho
EPA Project Officer: Michaud, Jayne
Project Period: August 1, 1999 through August 1, 2002
Project Amount: $40,366
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Fellowship - Ecology and Ecosystems , Academic Fellowships


Range reductions, extinctions, and population declines have been documented for Hawaiian honeycreepers (Passeriformes: Fringillidae: Drepanidinae) inhabiting low-elevation forests. Particularly interesting in considering the altitudinal trend of these declines is the opposite trend in abundance of the introduced night-biting mosquito (Culex quinquefasciatus), the primary vector of avian malaria (Plasmodium relictum). The specific objectives of this research project are to: (1) document nesting success of Apapane along the altitudinal gradient of C. quinquefasciatus mosquitoes; and (2) determine relationships between Apapane nesting success, elevation, and prevalence and infection status of C. quinquefasciatus within the nest vicinity.


The nesting success of 87 Apapane (Himatione sanguinea) nests and abundance of C. quinquefasciatus mosquitoes was monitored along an altitudinal gradient spanning 610-1,829 (2,000-6,000 feet) on the Kona Unit of the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaii Island, in 1998-1999. The abundance of C. quinquefasciatus mosquitoes caught below each nest over 7 trap nights will be measured within 1 week of nest termination. Avian malaria (Plasmodium relictum) infection status will be quantified by examination of mosquito midguts for developing oocysts. Elevation was recorded at each nest.

Expected Results:

The investigator proposes the hypothesis that reduced nesting success from greater exposure to avian-malaria vectors is a factor in reduced low-elevation Hawaiian honeycreeper populations. It is predicted that Apapane nesting success has a negative relationship with C. quinquefasciatus abundance and infection status and a positive relationship with elevation.

Supplemental Keywords:

Hawaiian honeycreeper, Apapane, nesting success, Culex quinquefasciatus, mosquito gradient, elevation gradient, Hawaii, HI., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecology, exploratory research environmental biology, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, State, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Environmental Monitoring, Ecology and Ecosystems, Biology, Ecological Indicators, avain community composition, Culicine mosquitos, bird habitat, Hawaii, avian malaria, ecological assessment, Hawaiian Honeycreeper, changes in species composition, biological effects, Apapane

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2000
  • 2001
  • Final