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Kipuka Volcanic Cone with Native Forest, Mauna Kea, Hawai'i
Credit & Copyright: Dr. Bruce G.
Explanation: You are standing on plains of aa type lava, just off Saddle Road that runs south from the giant volcano of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawai'i. Before you juts an old volcanic cone that is covered with strange and wonderful vegetation. This is a kipuka, a forested island within an island, that houses some of the last remnants of the native vegetation of Hawai'i.
Within these isolated forests persist native Ohia and Koa trees, although even here invaders such as German Ivy (or Cape Ivy) have taken a foothold. Local conservationists have worked hard to eradicate the ivy but it is a tale of exotics claiming native territory told among countless Pacific islands.
Most visitors to the Hawaiian Islands do not realize that nearly all of the tropical vegetation they see below 1000 m (3000 ft) elevation or so along the coastlines consists of exotic, introduced plants, and the native forests there are virtually gone.
You must climb to remote highlands such as kipukas to experience the real Hawai'i. There dwell the remaining native birds such as the Apapane shown here, although the natives are being overrun by introduced birds. Kipukas also house the two native butterfly species of Hawai'i.
We will explore the plight of the native Hawaiian flora and fauna in future episides of EPOW.
Next week's picture: Protea Blooms in Africa
Author & Webmaster: Dr.
Bruce G. Marcot, Tom Bruce
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