Structural Heterogeneity of waterbird habitat in restored Hawaiian wetlands
Indigenous and Local Knowledge serves as a robust lens for sustainable ecosystem management and restoration. Through agro-ecological practices, Indigenous peoples of Hawai’i have developed comprehensively complex strategies and traditions for maintaining the resilience of wetland ecosystems. Traditional practices such as the cultivation of kalo has been exercised in Hawaiian wetlands for centuries particularly because of its capacity to optimize multiple wetland ecosystem services. Kalo farming is known to retain sediment and organic matter in the watershed, create and maintain wetlands, and modify nutrient cycling. These key habitat characteristics are understood to have an effect on waterbird abundances although the extent to which they are facilitated by different management approaches, namely kalo cultivation, is still not clear. In order to better understand ecosystem services that are optimized by indigenous resource management approaches in the He’eia National Estuarine Research Reserve, three management sites were isolated: two managed lo’i kalo, a managed wetland site, and an unmanaged control site. Vegetation, water quality and waterbird data were conducted at thirty randomly selected point survey locations within each site. Between the three sites, managed loi have a significantly higher abundance of waterbird utilization. Utilizing Generalized Linear Models we were able to identify that waterbirds were detected at sights with open water, and medium canopy. This project has significant implications on the conservation of waterbirds and the substantiation of transgenerational management of wetlands by Indigenous peoples. Ultimately indigenous collaboration provides meaningful insight to an effective and sustainable model for contemporary wetland management.