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Prosopis pallida and P. juliflora (commonly referred to as algarroba, mesquite, or kiawe) were introduced from South America to areas in Oceania, Asia, and Africa during the early nineteenth century. In many cases, they naturalized and became widespread. In some places, alien Prosopis species are highly valued for the products and services that they can provide such as shade, cattle fodder, wood for fuel and fence posts, and nectar for honey production. In Australia, four Prosopis species including P. pallida, P. juliflora, P. glandulosa, P. velutina, and their hybrids are considered invasive and are subject to control efforts. After its introduction to Hawai'i in 1828, P. pallida became a dominant tree in arid areas of the main Hawaiian Islands, replacing the native lowland dry forest species that had been decimated by human activity, particularly by the introductions of goats and cattle. Prosopis pallida also has become an important economic species in Hawai'i. Prosopis juliflora, a more recent introduction to Hawai'i, is now spreading and is considered to be a noxious weed. Competition between Prosopis and native species as well as negative impacts of Prosopis on soil and local hydrology have been reported; however in some cases Prosopis species are characterized as midsuccessional species that rehabilitate degraded soils, eventually facilitating later-successional woodland. This provides a potential opportunity to use these species in reforestation efforts. Management decisions regarding these species should include a consideration of both their positive and negative ecological roles. If control or eradication is desired, a number of methods have been employed with various degrees of success.
Conservation of endangered habitats of South Pacific islands is partially dependent on activity of seed dispersers. In consuming fruits, animals can spread seeds from parent plants to distant sites, thus contributing to plant regeneration and colonization of new sites. In the dry forests of New Caledonia, the red-bellied fruit-dove, Ptilinopus greyii, is a potential disperser of many fleshyfruited species. Trials with a captive bird showed that gut passage enhanced seed germination for Diospyros fasciculosa and Mimusops elengi but not for Vitex cf. collina, compared with whole fruits. Gut passage did not shorten duration of seed dormancy, which is consistent with evidence of a simple deinhibition effect for D. fasciculosa and M. elengi. Minimum Retention Time (MRT) of seeds in the gut differed significantly between the three tree species, from a mean of 17.4 min for D. fasciculosa to a mean of 52.4 min for M. elengi. These times are longer than observed foraging times in fruiting trees, potentially making this fruit-dove an effective seed disperser.
Hawaiian lowland dry forests have been reduced by >90% since first human contact. Restoration has focused on protection from fire and ungulates, and removal of invasive grasses as ways to stimulate native forest regeneration. Despite these efforts, natural regeneration of native plants has been infrequent. To assess effects of previous restoration treatments on natural regeneration, we monitored seed rain and dynamics of seedlings and juveniles for a period of 3 yr (2004–2007) within three restoration units within a remnant forest on the island of Hawai'i. All units had been protected from fire for many decades but differed in time since ungulate exclusion and grass removal. The units were as follows: (1) long-term restoration (fenced 1956, grass removal initiated 1995), (2) shortterm restoration (fenced and grass removal initiated 1997), and (3) unmanaged (fenced 1997, no grass removal). Overall juvenile plant abundance was highest in the short-term unit, but native abundance was highest in the long-term unit. Native woody seedlings established in all units, but recruitment into larger size classes was restricted to units with grass removal, primarily the long-term unit. Native seed rain explained much of the variation in native seedling abundance between units with grass removal. Nonnative grass seed rain was extensive but was reduced by an order of magnitude with grass removal. This study suggests that natural regeneration may enhance restoration actions in sites with native canopy, but this is likely only when restoration activities have been maintained for several years to coincide with favorable rainfall conditions that are highly unpredictable over time.
Riparian litter fall is an important source of organic matter to rivers and accounts for a large fraction of their dissolved organic carbon (DOC) load. DOC is metabolically important in rivers, and therefore changes in riparian vegetation species composition should affect riverine DOC bioavailability. Worldwide, invasive vegetation composes a large percentage of riparian vegetation. In Hawai'i, riparian vegetation changes from native to invasive species with decreasing elevation. To assess how changes in riparian vegetation affect riverine DOC dynamics, we compared DOC bioavailability from native (Acacia koa and Metrosideros polymorpha) and invasive (Falcataria moluccana and Psidium cattleianum) riparian trees to freshwater and estuarine bacteria from the Wailuku River on Hawai'i Island through dark bioassays. DOC bioavailabilities in riverine and estuarine waters were similar among all riparian vegetation types. In contrast, vegetation-derived DOC was more bioavailable (52% ± 4%) than the riverine and estuarine DOC (14% ± 3%). Combining DOC bioavailability and leaf litter input data from our native and invaded riparian sites suggests that a shift in leaf litter inputs from native to invasive species may increase the amount of bioavailable DOC entering Hawaiian rivers and streams. This DOC input has the potential to impact the metabolism and food webs of downstream ecosystems.
Recent growth in the popularity of recreational scuba diving has generated concerns about resulting impacts to coral reefs, particularly in locations such as the Republic of Palau, a world-renowned dive destination with rapidly increasing numbers of visitors. Divers were observed in-water at three of the most visited dive sites in the Rock Islands—Southern Lagoon Area: German Channel, Ngerchong, and Big Drop-off. Dive guides were interviewed about diver impacts at German Channel and Ngerchong. Divers' contact rates with hard coral ranged from 0.87 ± 0.27 to 2.98 ± 0.59 contacts diver-1 10 min-1 (mean ± SEM). Three instances of obvious physical damage were observed. Holding and fin contacts were the most common potentially damaging behaviors of divers, particularly those with cameras or gloves. Guides identified natural impacts (63% of respondents) and divers (34% of respondents) as the primary causes of damage to coral. Proactive management is essential to mitigate any negative impacts of recreational diving on coral reefs and to ensure resilience against other increasing threats. Long-term monitoring of dive sites, controls on the use of gloves and underwater photography, and training of guides are suggested to minimize damage caused by divers to coral reefs in Palau and elsewhere.
The occurrence of great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) in New Caledonia is documented from 30 observation events (sightings or captures or forensic examination of wounds) made between 1943 and 2009, involving 34 individual sharks. Nine of the observation events concerned animals caught on lines set for deep-sea fishes, five were encounters with scuba divers or snorkelers, and one was a fatal attack on a surfer; two other observations included great white sharks feeding on whale carcasses; two were from pop-up archival transmitting tag records that monitored individuals tagged in the Chatham Islands, New Zealand; one was a forensic identification from wounds sustained by another large shark; and seven were fortuitous sightings from boats. Nearly all observations were of solitary sharks. Observation events were concentrated in the southern lagoon of New Caledonia or along its barrier reef. They occurred from July to March, with most records in September and November, coinciding with a peak of occurrence of large cetaceans.
Three confirmed occurrences of crocodiles, one identified as Crocodylus porosus (two others presumed C. porosus), and four occurrences of the dugong, Dugong dugon, are recorded for the Federated States of Micronesia. The records of a crocodile and a dugong on Eauripik Atoll and a dugong on Kosrae are reported in the literature for the first time. On geographic grounds, the crocodiles and dugongs recorded from Yap State, in the western part of the FSM, probably pertain to vagrants from Palau, approximately 450 km to the southwest, whereas those recorded from the eastern islands (Pohnpei and Kosrae) are more likely to have originated from populations in the Bismarck Archipelago and Solomon Islands area, approximately 1,500 km to the southwest, rather than from Palau, which is a much greater distance to the west.
Forty-five of the 107 species of marine benthic algae collected during 2004 and 2006 NOAA cruises to isolated Johnston Atoll and two additional species from earlier collections represent new species records. Total number of algae is now increased to 189 species: 26 species of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), 105 species of red algae, 15 species of brown algae, and 43 species of green algae. The macroalga Caulerpa serrulata and the epiphyte Lomentaria hakodatensis were the most widely distributed species at Johnston Atoll based on frequency of occurrence at 10 of 12 stations and 8 of 12 stations, respectively, during the 2004 NOAA cruise. Despite the atoll's isolation, the parasitic red alga Neotenophycus ichthyosteus and the cyanobacterium Borzia elongata are the only endemic algal species on Johnston Atoll. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling analyses indicate that taxonomic affinities of Johnston Atoll lie between French Frigate Shoals and Wake Atoll. In terms of atolls, biodiversity of the marine flora of Johnston Atoll (i.e., 189 species) is surpassed only by the 256 algal species of the much-larger and better-studied Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
Xylem of stems and roots of three species of Astelia, a monocot with relatively unspecialized xylem, was examined with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to better understand structural conditions intermediate between tracheids and vessel elements. Both macerations and hand-sectioned material were studied. Tracheary elements of roots of Asteliaceae can be characterized as tracheids, with some degrees of transition to vessel elements. Pit membrane remnants, which take the form of pores, reticula, or threads, are present commonly in end walls of tracheary elements of roots of Astelia. Stems of Astelia have tracheids with less-conspicuous porosities in the pit membranes of end walls than those of roots. Sectioned materials show that the porose (reticulate) cellulosic layers of the primary wall, which is embedded in a matrix of amorphous material, can be exposed to various degrees by the sectioning process; the cellulosic network faces the lumen, and the amorphous material is the compound middle lamella. Astelia shows stages of transition between vessel elements and tracheids. These character expressions relate to occupancy of moist habitats (Astelia) with steady availability of moisture during the year. There appears to be little difference between a terrestrial species (A. chathamica) and the scandent/epiphytic species A. argyrocoma and A. menziesiana in terms of tracheary element microstructure, suggesting that habitat is more important than habit as a determinant of tracheary element microstructure and the degree to which lysis of pit membranes occurs. Freehand sectioning of ethanol-fixed materials, as in earlier studies in this series, provides a reliable way of observing pit membrane/ perforation structure when viewed with SEM. Astelia is one of several monocots that demonstrate the difficulty of discriminating between tracheids and vessel elements.