Part 2: Native and Polynesian-Introduced Species of the Hawaiian Islands

Part 2—Native and Polynesian-Introduced Species of the Hawaiian Islands

Past Extinctions—Bird Species

Worldwide there are about 9,700 bird species, but only about 2% of these bird species are native to the Hawaiian Islands. When Captain Cook arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in 1778, there were about 80 species of endemic Hawaiian landbirds, along with at least 24 species and subspecies of native Hawaiian seabirds (4 endemic) and 34 species and two subspecies of waterbirds (29 endemic). More than 35 endemic Hawaiian landbirds had already gone extinct by 1778 when Cook’s arrival established Western contact with the Hawaiian Islands.

Bird species that were extinct prior to Cook’s arrival met their demise from a variety of causes. The Polynesians settlers of the Hawaiian Islands hunted birds for food and for feathers, though sometimes the birds were released unharmed after some of the feathers were collected. (See Native Birds of the Hawaiian Islands, Chapter 7.)

Pua‘a (Sus scrofa, pigs) and ‘īlio (Canis familiaris, dogs) brought by the Polynesians also had an effect on island bird populations, as did ‘iole (Rattus exulans, Polynesian black rats) that hitched a ride on the voyaging canoes.

These pigs, dogs, and rats were particularly detrimental to the Hawaiian Islands’ ground-nesting birds, which were also the most likely birds to be hunted by humans for food.

Aia a pohā ka leo o ka ‘a‘o, kāpule ke momona

o ka ‘uwa‘u i ka puapua.

When the ‘a‘o birds’ voices are distinctly heard, the ‘uwa‘u

birds are fat even to the very tails.

The ‘a‘o bird was not heard during the nesting season. When the fledglings emerged and their cries were heard, the season had come when young ‘uwa‘u were best for eating, and the people went to snare them.

Pukui: 32-6

About 23 of the bird species that became extinct prior to Western contact were ground-nesting birds. Known only from subfossil discoveries, these species included flightless ducks (four species); flightless ibises (three species); flightless rails (at least 10 species); and flightless geese (six species). Some of the flightless geese species were more than 3 feet (.9 m) tall.[i]

Other species that went extinct prior to Western contact included at least four long-legged owl species, one shearwater, one bald eagle, two crow species, one petrel, a harrier, and more than 21 honeycreeper species along with one honeyeater species.

It is possible that some of these bird species may have become extinct prior to Polynesian settlement in the Hawaiian Islands, but most (if not all) of these bird species probably became extinct after the Polynesians arrived in the Hawaiian Islands, but before Cook arrived in 1778 establishing Western contact.

Since 1778, at least 24 more native Hawaiian land bird species or subspecies have become extinct.[ii] For example, the native kioea (Chaetoptila angustipluma) was last seen in 1859.

In addition to the 59+ extinct endemic Hawaiian bird species and subspecies, more than 30 other endemic Hawaiian bird species are currently considered rare or endangered, and six of these species may already be extinct. (See Forest and Mountain Birds of the Hawaiian Islands, Chapter 7.)

Native Hawaiian Birds

Some bird species may have inhabited the Hawaiian Islands only after the Polynesian settlers arrived. This occurred because the original Hawaiian settlers, in the course of their food-producing activities, altered the native landscape by creating particular types of habitat (e.g., lo‘i kalo, or taro patches) that may have allowed certain wetland bird species to take hold.

The transformation of the environment by the Polynesian settlers of the Hawaiian Islands created substantial new areas of aquatic habitat. These new wetland habitats likely allowed some native species to expand their range, and may have allowed other species to become established.

For example, the koloa (Anas wyvilliana, duck) and the ‘alae ula (Gallinula chloropus sandvicensis, gallinule) may have become established only after new wetland habitat was created by the Polynesian settlers. This is conjectured by researchers due to the absence of these birds from Pleistocene bird fossil and subfossil deposits excavated from various sites around the Hawaiian Islands.

The Polynesians’ introduction of the Polynesian black rat (Rattus exulans) to the Hawaiian Islands also provided a new food source for raptors, and may have allowed certain bird species (e.g., owls) to become established in the Hawaiian Islands.

In a published study entitled Fossil evidence for a diverse biota from Kaua‘i and its transformation since human arrival (2001),[iii] the authors detail the excavation of a Kaua‘i sinkhole and cave system on the south coast of Hawai‘i Island. Remains of pueo (Asio flammeus, Short-eared owls) did not show up in prehuman sediments but were found in sediments corresponding to the time after the Polynesians arrived.

The excavation results led the authors to note that the findings were “...consistent with Olson and James’ suggestion that this rodent-catching owl was able to colonize the archipelago only after the Pacific rat had been introduced by the Polynesians.”[iv]

The authors also stated that, “...surprisingly...the only anseriform that has escaped extinction on the island and that one might expect to find in a wetland deposit, the Hawaiian Duck, or Koloa (Anas wyvilliana), is rare or absent...only a few bones from the site have been tentatively referred to as A. wyvilliana.”[v]

Thus the evidence remains inconclusive in regards to the whether koloa were found in the Hawaiian Islands before humans arrived or if they instead became established in the Hawaiian Islands only after the initial Polynesian settlement of the archipelago (and subsequent increase in wetland habitat).

Information regarding the exact time sequence of particular bird species inhabiting the Hawaiian Islands is still being gathered, and a more accurate picture is gradually emerging of the role that Polynesians’ played in creating new habitats that led to new bird species becoming established in the Hawaiian Islands.

Today, at least 22 species of marine birds are native to the Hawaiian Islands, with a total population of more than 12 million birds. More than 60% of these marine birds are noddies and terns. At least 33 species of geese and ducks (many migratory) are native to the Hawaiian Islands, along with five species of waterbirds, all endangered. (See Chapter 67)

As part of Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum’s ongoing Hawaii Biological Survey, updated in the Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2000,[vi] editors Lucius G. Eldredge and Scott E. Miller documented 228 bird species seen in the Hawaiian Islands (including 168 breeding and non-breeding migratory birds, some seen only rarely) as well as 60 endemic resident species. If the 46 introduced bird species are included, the total rises to 274 birds species in the Hawaiian Islands.

The study by Eldredge and Miller also noted that a total of 475 bird species are “known to occur or be sighted in Hawai‘i.”[vii] This number included extinct species (35+ becoming extinct before Cook arrived in 1778; 32 of these described from subfossils), and another 16 species extinct since 1778 (though a greater number are now presumed extinct, see above), and also included 150+ non-native birds that have been seen in the Hawaiian Islands but are not considered introduced species because they have not yet established breeding populations in the Hawaiian Islands.

The current total count of bird species in the Hawaiian Islands is apparently now at least 495, as the Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2000[viii] documented 10 new indigenous species (3 endemic and 7 introduced species), increasing the total number of bird species now established in the Hawaiian Islands to 294 species, including 241 native species (178 indigenous, 63 endemic) and 53 introduced species. (See Native Birds of the Hawaiian Islands, Chapter 7.)

Bishop Museum’s Hawaii Biological Survey

The Hawaii Biological Survey (with no ‘okina in “Hawaii”) is a Bishop Museum program that was established in 1992 by Hawai‘i’s State Legislature to maintain an ongoing inventory of the Hawaiian Islands’ natural history, including non-native as well as native species.

In coordination with a variety of state, federal and private groups (e.g., U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Nature Conservancy, University of Hawai‘i, and others), the Hawaii Biological Survey’s mission is to “gather, analyze, and disseminate the biological information necessary for the wise stewardship of Hawai‘i’s biological resources,” and also to “conduct a coordinated inventory and monitoring program to assess the overall status and trends in the abundance, health, and distribution of plants and animals, as well as the ecosystems upon which they depend.”[ix]

Bishop Museum scientists have done extensive studies to determine the total number of species found in the Hawaiian Islands, and have assembled a comprehensive tabulation of scientifically documented species, published by Bishop Museum and updated annually, including the Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2000,[x] published on March 25, 2002.

This count of the Hawaiian Islands’ endemic, indigenous, and introduced species, edited by Neal L. Evenhuis and Lucius G. Eldredge, includes plants, trees, mollusks (e.g., snails), invertebrates (e.g., insects), fish, birds, reptiles (e.g., sea turtles), mammals (e.g., bats, monk seals, whales and dolphins), fungi, lichens, protists (including algae and human parasitic protists), and helminths.

A total of 23,680 native Hawaiian species were documented, including 9,151 indigenous species, 9,456 endemic species, and 5,073 human-introduced species. Viruses and bacteria were not included. Of the 18,607 native Hawaiian species documented, about half (9,456 species) are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.

The documented native Hawaiian species include: 1,995 protist species (82 endemic); 2,088 fungi and lichen species (240 endemic); 1,163 flowering plants (918 endemic); 719 other native plants (241 endemic); 1,243 mollusks (962 endemic); 1,143 fish species (149 endemic); 4 reptiles (sea turtles, none endemic); 241 bird species (63 endemic); and 25 mammals (2 endemic) and 9,270 native invertebrates (7,239 endemic).

These native Hawaiian invertebrates include 6,284 arthropods [which included 5,818 insect species (5,462 endemic)] and 466 other arthropods (366 endemic)], along with 1,743 other invertebrates (449 endemic).

About 79% of native flowering plants in the Hawaiian Islands are endemic (918 of 1,163 species) along with approximately 26% of native birds, though nearly all native land birds of the Hawaiian Islands are endemic. About 94% of native insects of the Hawaiian Islands are endemic, as are 77% of native mollusks, 78% of native invertebrates, and 13% of native fish.

Counts of indigenous and endemic Hawaiian species are constantly changing as researchers discover new species, analyze relationships between species (and subspecies) and further refine scientific classifications.

F.R. Warshauer, in The Atlas of Hawai‘i: Third Edition (1998), and relying in part on the Bishop Museum’s Hawaii Biological Survey, reported 142 native bird species (including extinct species); 7,800 described arthropods (out of an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 native Hawaiian arthropods); 1,300 vascular plants; 1,600 lower plants; 788 mollusks, 166 other invertebrates; and one mammal (not counting marine mammals), totaling about 15,000 native species in those categories.[xi]

Arthropods

Arthropods are invertebrates (animals without backbones). All arthropods have a rigid external skeleton as well as segmented body parts and segmented legs (arthropod means “jointed feet”). At least 6,284 native Hawaiian arthropods have been documented.

About 95% of Hawaiian arthropods are insects, while the other 5% are closely related species that are not true insects, including centipedes, millipedes, spiders, and many others.

More than 94% of the Hawaiian Islands’ 5,818 known native insect species are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. These 5,462 endemic insect species evolved over a period of at least 30 million years, inhabiting the ancient islands of the Hawaiian archipelago.

At least 23 species and subspecies of damselflies are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands along with five endemic dragonfly species. (See Damselflies and Dragonflies, Chapter 10.) Many more introduced damselfly and dragonfly species are now established in the Hawaiian Islands.

Two butterfly species are native to the Hawaiian Islands, along with about 13 more introduced butterfly species. (See Hawaiian Butterflies, Chapter 10.) More than 60 cave species (living in caves), are native to the Hawaiian Islands, and many of these are endemic to particular islands. (See Hawaiian Cave Species, Chapter 10.)

Pomace flies, (Drosophilidae and Scaptomyza), are a renowned example of adaptive radiation among the Hawaiian Islands’ insect fauna, with at least 860 documented species of Drosophilidae (in five genera), and perhaps many more yet to be described.

All of these flies apparently evolved from a common pair of ancestors that lived in the Hawaiian Islands about 10 million years ago. For thousands of generations (over millions of years) the flies reproduced, and island-hopped from one volcano to the next as the islands eroded away at the northwest end of the chain and emerged at the southeast end of the chain.

Currently there are at least 2,161 known beetle species native to the Hawaiian Islands, and at least 1,416 of these beetle species are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. There are more species of beetles than any other organism in the Hawaiian Islands, and the Hawaiian Islands also have the world’s highest proportion of beetles to other living things.

Thousands of species of native Hawaiian insects have yet to be scientifically described. It is estimated that the total number of native Hawaiian insects could exceed 10,000 species, which evolved from less than 500 original colonizing species.[xii]

Also now established in the Hawaiian Islands are more than 550 introduced terrestrial arthropods and more than 2,700 non-native (introduced) insect species.

Snails and other Invertebrates

The Bishop Museum’s Hawai‘i Biological Survey has documented at least 781 terrestrial gastropods (759 endemic), and 7 Hawaiian freshwater gastropods (all endemic).

Endemic Hawaiian tree snails (terrestrial gastropods) provide another astounding example of adaptive radiation in the Hawaiian Islands, with more than 750 endemic species having evolved from just a few pioneers that reached the Islands several million years ago, probably in the feathers of migratory birds, or in mud on the birds’ feet. The snails are known by the Hawaiian name pūpū kani oe (“shell that sounds long”[xiii]), referring to the belief that the snails sing.

Endemic Hawaiian land and freshwater snails evolved from about 25 colonizing species. These extremely adaptable snails had no natural predators, and were once found in a wide variety of habitats where they fed on the fungi that grow on leaves and forest debris (making the snails an important component of native ecosystems).

The snails were known to vary considerably from valley to valley, and exhibited many shapes and colors, from gold tints to cream-colored with brown stripes.

Unfortunately, these native terrestrial snails have a very slow reproductive cycle as well as a low birthrate, and populations were significantly diminished by collectors and other causes.

The snails are extremely vulnerable to non-native predators, particularly rats (Rattus exulans; R.. rattus; R. norvegicus); introduced snails (e.g., Euglandina rosea, the “cannibal snail,”); and the New Guinea flatworm (Platydemis manokwari), which was introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in the 1990s and now threatens the last, high-elevation habitats of the native snails.[xiv]

There were once more than 300 native Hawaiian snail species in the family Amastridae, but only about 12 or fewer of these species survive today.

Recent research studying genetic mutation rates has shown that dozens of tree snail species in the subfamily achatinellinae originated from a single ancestor that likely lived in O‘ahu’s Ko‘olau mountain range about 3 million years ago.

The last remaining habitat of native Hawaiian terrestrial snails is at high elevations on Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, and O‘ahu, as well as some middle elevation areas on Hawai‘i Island and Maui.

Three brackish/freshwater snail species are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. Two of these species, hapawai (Neritina vespertina) and pīpīwai (Theodoxus cariosus), prefer brackish waters, while a third species, hīhīwai (Neritina granosa) lives in freshwater stream areas. There are four native species of lymnaeid snails (pond snails) that live in streams and ponds as well as lo‘i kalo (taro patches).[xv]

Overall, at least 1,243 native Hawaiian mollusks have been documented, and about 80% of these mollusk species are snails, sea slugs, and related species. Native Hawaiian mollusks are invertebrates that evolved from about 25 original immigrant species. There are also thousands of other native Hawaiian species of invertebrates (animals without backbones), including crabs, shrimp, and sea urchins.

Two native Hawaiian shrimp species, ‘ōpaekala‘ole (Atyoida bisulcata) and ‘ōpae ‘oeha‘a (Macrobrachium grandimanus), live in streams, while a third, ‘ōpae ‘ula (Halocaridina rubra) prefers anchialine ponds that are connected to the sea only by the percolations of saltwater and freshwater through lava rock. Heteromyenia baileyi is a native (indigenous) freshwater sponge that sometimes attains a bright green color.

Reptiles and Amphibians

No terrestrial reptiles or amphibians are considered native to the Hawaiian Islands, though there remains a possibility that some lizard species arrived in the Hawaiian Islands on their own (see below).

Marine reptiles native to the Hawaiian Islands include five sea turtle species, some seen only rarely in Hawaiian waters. The two sea turtle species that come onto Hawaiian shores to lay their eggs are honu (Chelonia mydas, green sea turtle) and honu‘ea (Eretmochelys imbricata, hawksbill sea turtle).

On Monday, October 7, 2002, a small, female Olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) came ashore at Bayfront Beach on the island of Hawai‘i’s Hilo Bay. This was only the second reported sighting of a nesting Olive ridley sea turtle in the Hawaiian Islands. (See Hawaiian Sea Turtles, Chapter 6.)

Another marine reptile occasionally seen in Hawaiian waters (and thus considered native) is the Yellow-bellied sea snake (Pelamis platurus), a venomous yellow and black reptile that is about 29 inches (74 cm) long. A distant relative of the cobra, the Yellow-bellied sea snake is the only truly pelagic (open-ocean) sea snake of 55 known sea snake species.

[Illustration: Pelamis platurus (see above).]

Three skink species and four gecko species were established in the Hawaiian Islands before Western contact. These species likely came as stowaways aboard the voyaging canoes of the Polynesian settlers of the Hawaiian Islands, though it is possible some of these lizards may have reached the Hawaiian Islands on their own (e.g., by rafting on a log or on other ocean debris).

As of 2004 at least 21 lizard species have been found in the wild in the Hawaiian Islands (and thus are assumed to have established breeding populations). These lizards include geckos, skinks, anolis lizards, chameleons, horned lizards, and iguanas.

Some of these lizard species are found throughout the Hawaiian Islands, while others are only found in very small areas on particular islands. Three of the lizard species are (presumably) no longer found in the wild in the Hawaiian Islands. (See Geckos and Other Reptiles, Chapter 10.)

No terrestrial snakes are native to the Hawaiian Islands, but there is one introduced snake species, called the Island blind snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus), which arrived in the Hawaiian Islands sometime around the 1930s in the soil in potted palm trees imported from the Philippines for landscaping.

Now well established in the Hawaiian Islands, the Island blind snake is a burrowing snake that is about 6½ inches (16.5 cm) long, feeds on insects and small invertebrates, and spends most of its life underground.

Fish

Of the 24,000 known species of fish in the world, about 1,143 are native to the Hawaiian Islands, including 149 endemic fish species. About 536 of these fish species are inshore fishes found near reefs and other nearshore areas to a depth of about 200 feet (61 m).

About 25% of these 536 inshore species are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. The overall rate of endemism for native Hawaiian fish is about 13% (149 endemic species and 994 indigenous species). (See Hawaiian Reef Fish, Chapter 6.)

Fish native to the Hawaiian Islands also include five freshwater species, known as ‘o‘opu, which spend part of their lives in the ocean. These five ‘o‘opu fish species are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, and include four species in the family Gobiidae (commonly called gobies) and one species in the family Eleotridae (‘o‘opu ‘akupa, Eleotris sandwicensis).

All five Hawaiian ‘o‘opu species are born as larvae in freshwater streams. The tiny larvae are then washed down into the ocean where they develop into fish before returning to the stream where they were born and swimming back up through the current.

‘O‘opu have specially adapted pelvic fins, which are fused to form a sucking disc, allowing the fish to climb up rocks and waterfalls and reach the upper levels of the streams to lay eggs and complete their life cycle.

An ancient Hawaiian proverb refers to the ‘o‘opu as “Ka i‘a a ka wai nui i lawe mai ai,” (“The fish borne along by the flood.”[xvi]

Native Reef Fish

Native reef fish species of the Hawaiian Islands include:

Ø 5 native species of angelfishes (Pomacanthidae).

Ø 24 native species of butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae).

Ø 7 native species of parrotfishes (Scaridae).

Ø At least 24 native species of surgeonfishes (Acanthuridae).

Ø 43 native species of wrasses (Labridae).

Ø 8 native species of filefishes (Monacanthidae).

Ø 25 native species of scorpionfishes (Scorpaenidae).

Ø 11 native species of triggerfishes (Balistidae).

Ø 1 native species of trumpetfish (Aulostonus chinensis).

Ø 2 native species of cornetfishes (Fistulariidae).

Ø 17 species of damselfishes (Pomacentridae)

(See Hawaiian Reef Fish, Chapter 6, for more information about the fish listed above.)

The endemic āholehole fish (Kuhlia sandvicensis, young stage of āhole, Hawaiian flagtail) sometimes enters lower stream areas, as do pua ‘ama‘ama (Mugil cephalus, young stage of ‘ama‘ama, mullet).

‘Ama‘ama were the main fish raised in ancient Hawaiian loko i‘a (fishponds). Also raised in fishponds were awa (Chanos chanos, milkfish), which reach a length of 6 feet (1.8 m).

Sharks, Rays and Eels

At least 41[xvii] known species of sharks may be seen in Hawaiian waters (and are thus considered native to the Hawaiian Islands), and 20 of these shark species inhabit deep waters. Six shark species are relatively common around the Hawaiian Islands. (See Sharks, Chapter 6.) There are five native ray species, including a manta ray, an eagle ray, and three stingray species. (See Rays, Chapter 6.)

There are at least 38 native Hawaiian species of moray eel (Muraenidae), along with 16 native species of snake eels (Ophichthidae) and 3 native species of conger and garden eels (Congridae). (See Eels, Chapter 6.)

Other Marine Species

More than 860 marine and freshwater algae species are native to the Hawaiian Islands, including at least 80 endemic algae species. Of the more than 340 known native Hawaiian species of red limu, at least 67 are endemic and most are edible. (See Limu in Native Plants and Ferns of the Hawaiian Islands, Chapter 8.)

There are at least 150 different native Hawaiian coral species (approximately 20 to 30 percent are endemic), including 47 hard stony corals and more than 100 species of sea fan and other soft corals. (See Coral Reefs, Chapter 6.)

Land and Sea Mammals

There are 78 species of cetaceans worldwide, including all whales, dolphins, and porpoises. At least 22 cetacean species are considered native to the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands, though some are only occasionally seen near the Hawaiian Islands.

The 22 native Hawaiian cetacean species include 17 toothed cetaceans, known as Odontocetes (e.g., dolphins), and five baleen whales, known as Mysticetes (e.g., humpback whales). (See Humpback Whales, and Spinner and Bottlenose Dolphins, Chapter 6.)

Aside from cetaceans, the only sea mammal native to the Hawaiian Islands is the Hawaiian monk seal, which often feeds near shore and then rests during the day on Island beaches. (See Hawaiian Monk Seals, Chapter 6.)

There are about 4,600 mammal species in the world, but just one native Hawaiian land mammal: ‘ōpe‘ape‘a (Lasiurus cinereus semotus, Hawaiian hoary bat). This furry insect-eating bat weighs in at about 6 ounces (170 g) with a wingspan up to 14 inches (36 cm). (See Hawaiian Hoary Bat, Chapter 10.)

Native and Polynesian-Introduced Plants

Before Western contact began to drastically change the landscape of the Hawaiian Islands, there were more than 1,700 known native Hawaiian plant species, including more than 1,000 native flowering plant species that had evolved from less than 300 original immigrants.

At least 178 fern species are native to the Hawaiian Islands (124 endemic species). These native ferns evolved from about 135 colonizing species. At least 22 species of fern allies are native to the Hawaiian Islands, and seven of these fern ally species are endemic.

The 1999 Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition[xviii] formally recognized 956 species of native Hawaiian flowering plants, including 850 species that are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.

Many more native Hawaiian plant species have since been discovered (see Introduction to Native Plants and Ferns of the Hawaiian Islands, Chapter 8), and are documented in the 2002 Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i[xix] as well as the Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey (see above), with a current total of at least 1,882 documented native Hawaiian plant species (1,159 endemic), including 1,163 native flowering plant species (918 endemic).

The extremely high rate of flowering plant endemism (79% endemic) in the Hawaiian Islands is primarily attributed to the geographical isolation of the Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from any continent. For more information about endemism and the evolution of native plant species, see the introduction to Chapter 8, Native Plants and Ferns of the Hawaiian Islands.

The Polynesian settlers of the Hawaiian Islands also brought at least 24 species of plants to the Islands, and may have brought as many as 30 plant species or more. (See Introduction to Chapter 9, Polynesian-Introduced Plants.)


 

Other Polynesian-Introduced Species

The early Polynesian settlers also brought many other species to Hawai’i besides plants. Some of these other species were brought to the Hawaiian Islands intentionally for use as food sources, but other species were brought unintentionally, coming as stowaways on the Polynesians’ voyaging canoes, and then establishing breeding populations in the Hawaiian Islands.

The geckos and the skinks listed below are presumed to have arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in this manner (as stowaways on the voyaging canoes), but there remains a possibility that some of these lizard species may instead have arrived in the Hawaiian Islands on their own (e.g., floating to the Hawaiian Islands on rafts of debris), and thus are native to the Hawaiian Islands.

Following is a summary of all species known to be introduced to the Hawaiian Islands by the early Polynesian settlers, as well as other species that may have been brought to the Hawaiian Islands, intentionally or unintentionally, by the Polynesians previous to Western contact in 1778.

Intentional Polynesian Introductions

Pua‘a (Sus scrofa, pigs) 

Moa (Gallus gallus gallus, chickens) 

‘Īlio (Canis familiaris, dogs) 

At least 24 (and probably more than 26) plant species

(See Polynesian-Introduced Plants, Chapter 9.) 

Unintentional Polynesian Introductions

Geckos (Gekkonidae)

Indo-Pacific Gecko (Hemidactylus garnotii) 

Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris) 

Stump-Toed Gecko (Gehyra mutilata) 

Tree Gecko (Hemiphyllodactylus typus) 

(See Geckos and other Reptiles, Chapter 10.) 

 

Skinks (Scincidae)

Azure-Tailed Skink (Emoia impar)

Moth Skink (Lipinia noctua noctua)

Snake-Eyed Skink (Cryptoblepharus poecilopleurus)

(See Geckos and other Reptiles, Chapter 10.)

Plants (possibly Polynesian-introduced)*

Kāmole (Ludwigia octivalvis, primrose willow)

‘Ihi ‘Ai (Oxalis corniculata, yellow wood sorrel)

Kūkaepua‘a (Digitaria setigera)

Koali Kua Hulu (Merremia aegyptia, Hairy merremia)

Neke (Cyclosorus interruptus, formerly Thelypteris interrupta, maiden fern)

Paspalum scrobiculatum (ricegrass, no known Hawaiian name)

*Some of these plant species may be indigenous Hawaiian species, but have been noted as potential Polynesian introductions based on research. See Introduction to Polynesian-Introduced Plants, Chapter 9 for more information about the status of each of these species.

Snails[xx] 

Lamellaxis gracilis

Lamellidea oblonga

Gastrocopta pediculus 

 

Other (Unintentional) Polynesian-Introduced Species 

Polynesian black rat (Rattus exulans) 

Ectoparasites

Laelaps hawaiiensis, and others (carried on rats)[xxi] 

Freshwater clams*

Pisidium casertanum

Musculium partumeium

*Found in ancient taro pond, thought to have been transported on taro stock brought to Hawai‘i by early Polynesian settlers.[xxii]



[i] Conant, Sheila. Extinct Birds, in Atlas of Hawai‘i: Third Edition. Edited by Sonia P. Juvik and James O. Juvik. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1998.

[ii] Bishop Museum: Hawai‘i’s Extinct Species—Birds. Internet site: http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/endangered/ext-birds.html, 7/28/2002.

[iii] Burney, David A., James, Helen F., Burney, Lida Pigott, Olson, Storrs L., Kikuchi, William, Wagner, Warren L., Burney, Mara, McCloskey, Deirdre, Kikuchi, Delores, Grady, Frederick V., Gage II, Reginald, and Nishek, Robert. Fossil evidence for a diverse biota from Kaua‘i and its transformation since human arrival. Ecological Monographs, 71 (4), 2001, pp. 615-641.

[iv] Burney, David A., James, Helen F., Burney, Lida Pigott, Olson, Storrs L., Kikuchi, William, Wagner, Warren L., Burney, Mara, McCloskey, Deirdre, Kikuchi, Delores, Grady, Frederick V., Gage II, Reginald, and Nishek, Robert. Fossil evidence for a diverse biota from Kaua‘i and its transformation since human arrival. Ecological Monographs, 71 (4), 2001, pp. 615-641.

[v] Burney, David A., James, Helen F., Burney, Lida Pigott, Olson, Storrs L., Kikuchi, William, Wagner, Warren L., Burney, Mara, McCloskey, Deirdre, Kikuchi, Delores, Grady, Frederick V., Gage II, Reginald, and Nishek, Robert. Fossil evidence for a diverse biota from Kaua‘i and its transformation since human arrival. Ecological Monographs, 71 (4), 2001, pp. 615-641.

[vi] Evenhuis, Neal L., and Eldredge, Lucius G., Editors. Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2000. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers, Number 68, 69. Honolulu: Bishop Museum, 3/25/2002.

[vii] The How Many Species Are there in Hawaii Web Page. Includes: How many species are there in Hawaii?, from the “Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 1994” as published in the Bishop Museum Occasional Paper volume 41: 3-18; and Number of Hawaiian Species: Supplement 1, originally published in Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 45: 8-17 (1996). Internet site: http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/hispp.html, 10/17/2002.

[viii] Evenhuis, Neal L., and Eldredge, Lucius G., Editors. Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2000. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers, Number 68, 69. Honolulu: Bishop Museum, 3/25/2002.

[ix] The Role of the Hawaii Biological Survey. Bishop Museum Internet site: http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/hbs3.html, 8/072002.

[x] Evenhuis, Neal L., and Eldredge, Lucius G., Editors. Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2000. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers, Number 68, 69. Honolulu: Bishop Museum, 3/25/2002.

[xi] Warshauer, F.R. Alien Species and Threats to Native Ecology, in the Atlas of Hawai‘i: Third Edition. Edited by Sonia P. Juvik and James O. Juvik. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1998.

[xii] Howarth, F.G., and Mull, W.P. Hawaiian Insects and their Kin. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1992.

[xiii] Pukui, Mary Kawena, and Elbert, Samuel H. Hawaiian Dictionary: Revised and Enlarged Edition. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986.

[xiv] Hadfield, Michael G. Hawaiian Tree Snails, in the Atlas of Hawai‘i: Third Edition. Edited by Sonia P. Juvik and James O. Juvik. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1998.

[xv] Yamamoto, Mike N., and Tagawa, Annette W. Hawai‘i’s Native & Exotic Freshwater Animals. Honolulu: Mutual Publishing, 2000.

[xvi] p. 144, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 1323.

[xvii] Includes viper shark (Trigonognathus kabeyai) reported in: Evenhuis, Neal L., and Eldredge, Lucius G., Editors. Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2000. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers, Number 68, 69. Honolulu: Bishop Museum, 3/25/2002.

[xviii] Wagner, Warren L., Herbst, Derral R., and Sohmer, S.H. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i: Revised Edition, Volumes 1 and 2. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press; Bishop Museum Press, 1999.

[xix] Wagner, Warren L., and Herbst, Derral R. Electronic Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i. Internet site: http://rathbun.si.edu/botany/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/supplement.htm, 3/05/2002.

[xx] Kirch, Patrick V. (Citing Cooke 1926; Cooke and Kondo 1960; Pilsbry 1916-1918; Solem 1959.) The Impact of the Prehistoric Polynesians on the Hawaiian Ecosystem. Pacific Science, Vol.36, No.1, January, 1982.

[xxi] Kirch, Patrick V. The Impact of the Prehistoric Polynesians on the Hawaiian Ecosystem. Pacific Science, Vol.36, No.1, January, 1982.

[xxii] Evenhuis, Neal L., and Eldredge, Lucius G., Editors. Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2000. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers, Number 68, 69. Honolulu: Bishop Museum, 3/25/2002.