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SAVING ALAE ULA, HAWAI’IS SWAMP CHICKEN
November 11, 2019 @ 7:00 PM - 9:00 PMfree
The November Flathead Audubon meeting will feature Dr. Charles van Rees’ program on the ‘Alae ‘Ula, or the Hawaiian gallinule, an endangered subspecies of water bird endemic to the Hawaiian archipelago. The presentation will be Monday, November 11 from 7-9 pm at the Gateway West Community Room in Kalispell.
According to Native Hawaiian legend, ‘Alae ‘Ula were sacred birds whose night-time calls were omens of death, and who provoked the wrath of the volcano goddess Pēlē when they revealed the secret of fire to humankind. These strange, pugnacious little birds were nearly driven to extinction in the 1960’s due to reclamation of their wetland habitats and the introduction of invasive predators. They disappeared from all of the archipelago except for the islands of Kaua‘i and O‘ahu, the home of Waikiki beach, where they have made a slow and tenuous, partial recovery. Dr. Charles van Rees shares the conservation story of ‘Alae ‘Ula and his findings from over five years as a PhD candidate conducting field research on O‘ahu. Genetic research and mark-recapture studies revealed key insights into the connectivity of O‘ahu’s urbanized landscape for these imperiled birds. Population viability modeling also showed the imminent threat of sea-level rise to their remaining habitats. Movement simulations and landscape-level statistical analyses shed light on the mysterious movement patterns of these secretive, reluctant fliers. Charles is a naturalist and conservation biologist, and recently arrived in the Flathead Valley to work as a postdoctoral research scientist studying aquatic invasive species at the Flathead Lake Biological Station.