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Old 07-31-2009, 05:21 PM   #1
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Default Native plants recovering after pigs, goats fenced out

Native plants recovering after pigs, goats fenced out
July 29, 2009

Native plants recovering after pigs, goats fenced out - Haleakala Times
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HALEAKALA — Native species in the shrub land and forest of Waikamoi Preserve on the north slope of Mount Haleakala have staged a dramatic recovery after hooved animals were fenced out.
In some cases, native plant cover increased by 300 percent or more.
The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii reported that work at the site confirmed that strategic conservation efforts, like fencing and feral animal removal, can help restore damaged ecosystems.
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“The message is that it’s really worth protecting important native forests and watersheds from invasive animals. You really do get remarkable results,” said Mark L. White, Maui program director for The Nature Conservancy.
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Among the species that declined were invasive alien velvetgrass, and the native alpine hairgrass, Deschampsia nubigena.

“There was a hundred years of goats, and then pigs. The pigs are rototilling the forest, plowing up large areas, and the grasses are the first to invade and establish themselves,” White said.

On removing goats and pigs, the shrubs have a chance to recover.
“Weather could be playing a role... but we attributed the greatest magnitude of change to be a release from extensive ungulate browsing, trampling and rubbing. The data clearly indicated native sub-alpine shrubs and ferns increased at the expense of native and alien grasses on the mountain across years. These patterns of change are what one expects from a normal succession process from more open animal-occupied habitat to denser, wooded habitat in the absence of animals,” Hughes’ report said.
The lack of trampling also let mosses and lichen recover, which Hughes said he took as a sign of a recovering ecosystem.

The results of removing ungulates from this region are impressive, but not entirely unexpected, said Lloyd Loope, a veteran research biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. At an upland bog on Haleakala, pigs had reduced vegetation cover to 5 percent by 1981. After their removal, the bog responded to 90 percent cover within six years, he said.
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Old 07-31-2009, 09:39 PM   #2
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Gee... maybe we could learn something from this and put a big fence up around all our public lands out west. Let's see how fast something is done about the beloved "wild mustangs" and all the ranchers' free roaming livestock when they start ending up in people's back yards trampling their vegetation and destroying their landscapes.
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Old 08-13-2009, 07:44 AM   #3
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Yikes. Wouldn't that be a wake-up call. It would break that fairy tale romantic fantasy real quick.
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