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Short Film Sheds Light on Climate Challenges at Haleakalā, Maui

NPS “Drawing Connections” illustrates avian malaria threatening the survival of Haleakala’s forest birds. Courtesy of National Park Service.

The National Park Service released a new short film called “Drawing Connections: Haleakalā National Park,” shedding light on the impact of climate change on the park’s most critically endangered species, Hawaiian honeycreepers. 

Honeycreepers are a unique group of forest birds found only in Hawai’i, which once had more than 50 species. Today, only 17 species remain, some with fewer than 500 individuals left.  

Driving the extinction of forest birds in Hawai’i is avian malaria, a disease transmitted by invasive Culex mosquitoes. A single bite by an infected mosquito can kill an ʻiʻiwi. As the climate warms, mosquitoes carrying avian malaria are moving upslope into the last refugia for Hawaiʻi’s forest birds. 

“It is becoming very clear that the changing climate patterns are now allowing disease-carrying mosquitoes to reach our native forest birds at the highest elevations that they occur. This is no longer a matter of disease simply limiting the range of these birds,” said Haleakalā National Park Forest Bird Biologist Chris Warren.  

“We are on the brink of losing a number of species in the next few years as a direct result of changing temperature and precipitation patterns,” Warren added. “If we cannot control avian malaria and its mosquito vector, we will lose these species, and my heart breaks to say that.” 

To watch the film and learn more about climate change and forest birds, visit: www.nps.gov/hale/learn/nature/saving-our-forest-birds.htm 

To learn more about climate change impacts in National Parks, visit: www.nps.gov/subjects/climatechange/index.htm 

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2021/08/25/short-film-sheds-light-on-climate-challenges-at-haleakala-maui/

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