Technical Report #160.
McDaniel, S., R. Loh, S. Dale, K.
Smith, and M. Vaidya. September 2008. Rehabilitation of
‘ōhi’a-swordfern (Metrosideros polymorpha-Nephrolepis multiflora)
woodlands following the Kupukupu Fire, Hawaii Volcanoes National
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The 2002 Kupukupu Fire burned more than 3,367 acres (1363
hectares) in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Four hundred and fifty-five
acres (184 hectares) were in transitionally dry to mesic ‘ōhi’a
swordfern woodland of which portions had previously burned in 1972,
1981, and 1992. Based on past studies, the effects of this fire were
expected to result in a reduction of abundance and diversity of native
species. In contrast, alien swordfern was expected to quickly
re-establish. Wildfire was expected to recur in this area given the
abundance of fine fuels provided by alien swordfern and grasses,
extended dry periods, and continued ignition sources provided by nearby
lava flows. Consequently, park managers adopted an aggressive approach
to restore native species by a combination of seeding and planting into
the burn. Establishment was focused primarily on fire-tolerant species.
Restoration efforts began in October 2002 and continued to March 2005.
Approximately 1,500 worker days were spent on the project, propagating
plants, planting, seeding and monitoring individuals in the field.
Thirty-five native plant species were established in the burn area by a
combination of direct seeding nearly 400,000 seeds and planting 12,646
individuals that were propagated in temporary greenhouses at HAVO.
Average survivorship of planted individuals was greater than 50% and
ranged between 10% and 92% by species. Of these, fourteen species had
reached reproductive maturity by Fall 2006. Seeds of seven of the
thirteen species seeded in the burn area germinated. Five species
survived beyond the first year seedling stage. Continued monitoring will
determine long term successional outcomes.