The only way is up? How are Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa alpine plants responding to rapid climate change?

Mar 21, 2019 7:00 PM

A Maunakea Speaker Series presentation by Dr. James Juvik, Professor Emeritus at University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo

The next scheduled program in the Maunakea Speaker Series will be held Thursday, March 21st from 7 pm to 8 pm at UH Hilo Science and Technology Building (STB) room 108.

In 1958 the noted Pacific Island botanist Raymond Fosberg recorded the upper altitudinal limits of various native plants growing along the access road to the NOAA global climate monitoring observatory at the 11,000 ft elevation level. We resurveyed the altitudinal limits of Mauna Loa plants again after 50 years (2008) and 60 years (2018) The arrival of many new alien plant species have been reported in these more recent surveys, which may be expected to potentially impact the alpine ecosystems. Some new native plant species have also appeared, while others have not moved to higher elevation despite rapid temperature warming on the upper slopes over the past half-century. Studies have similarly documented changing patterns of alpine native and alien plant invasion on Mauna Kea. Although both mountains have similar climates they differ dramatically with respect to substrate (recent lavas on Mauna Loa and older cinder/soils on Mauna kea) that is another important factor controlling plant colonization and altitudinal limits. Our studies indicate that any benefits to alpine plants caused by warming trends may be offset by other countervailing climate trends in rainfall and increasing aridity.

Dr. James Juvik is Professor Emeritus of geography and environmental studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.  He specializes primarily in tropical forest climate, hydrology, ecology, paleo-ecology and international wildlife conservation and ecological studies. He was the first to core a number of Hawaiian swamps and bogs to secure peat/pollen records of past vegetation and climate change. He is an internationally recognized expert on conservation management of endangered land tortoises around the world. Dr Juvik is internationally recognized in the climatological field for the development of the "Juvik Fog Gauge," now used worldwide to provide standardized fog measurements for research and recordation. He has done extensive research into cloud mist in the mountains of Hawai'i.

The Maunakea Speaker Series is free and open to the public. On-campus parking is open and available without charge after 4:00 pm.

About the Maunakea Speaker Series

The Maunakea Speaker Series is a monthly scholar-focused presentation offered as a partnership among the Office of Maunakea Management, 'Imiloa Astronomy Center, and the University of Hawai'i at Hilo Department of Physics & Astronomy. This collaborative venture gives the community unprecedented access to fascinating research taking place on Maunakea and other topics unique to the Island of Hawai'i. A venue for scholars to share their stories and learn from discussion, the series promotes understanding and collaboration across all sectors of the community, while addressing the goals of the University of Hawai'i at Hilo.

For more information, visit or call 808-933-0734

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