Science & Research in the Park

Research in the Park
It is the policy of the National Park Service (NPS) and Haleakalā National Park to ensure that biological and cultural resource management is guided by the highest quality scientific information available.
Research is allowed in the park as long as:
1) It is conducted in a manner that does not damage or diminish park natural or cultural resources.
2) Provides a knowledge benefit to park resource management operations.

Research Priorities
Research permits will be prioritized by how well they align with the priority research areas identified in the Haleakalā National Park’s 2019 Natural Resource Condition Assessment (NRCA).
Projects that match these research areas may be able to obtain park and partner support. If the park's established need is defined in your research, expedited permitting may be an option (less than 90 days - see below).

Apply for a research permit
Research applications for Haleakalā National Park are processed through the National Park Service wide Research Permitting and Reporting System (RPRS) website.

We recommend that you apply at least 90 days in advance of your first planned field activities. Projects requiring access to restricted locations or proposing activities with sensitive resources, such as endangered species or cultural sites, usually require extensive review and can require 90 days or longer for a permitting decision.


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The following priority research areas text is sourced from:
Krushelnycky, P. D., C. G. Chimera, and E. A. VanderWerf. 2019. Natural resource condition assessment: Haleakalā National Park. Natural Resource Report NPS/HALE/NRR—2019/1977. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
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Priority Research Areas Identified in the NRCA – Life Supporting Environment

Air Quality
“Data on ozone concentrations at HALE are not collected, and would provide a clearer picture of threats to human health and plants. There is also very little information on N and S deposition at HALE. Ecosystem sensitivity to acidification was assessed on a relative ranking scale, which provides a very general indication of risk, but more comprehensive park-specific data on ecosystem sensitivity is needed for more precise estimation of risk from acidification (Sullivan 2016b). Given the high estimated ecosystem sensitivity, collection of on-site deposition data is recommended.”

Soil Quality
“There are no monitoring programs or data on rates of erosion, soil contamination, or other metrics of soil quality at HALE.”

Water Quality
“Various other water quality parameters have not been measured recently, or with sufficient frequency, to assess their impacts on water quality at HALE. Some of these, such as concentrations of toxic compounds, can be highly detrimental to aquatic life, however, there are few obvious point sources for such contaminants in HALE. In addition, relatively little information exists regarding human health pathogens in HALE streams. Finally, the remote nature of the three montane lakes in the park protects them from most sources of contamination, but has also undoubtedly contributed to the lack of information on the quality of their waters.”

 
Priority Research Areas Identified in the NRCA – Biological Integrity

Coastal Ecosystems
“Repeated quantitative vegetation data are generally lacking. No NPS I&M Focal Terrestrial Plant Community or Established Invasive Plant Species monitoring plots are located in coastal ecosystems at HALE, yet additional vegetation plot data would greatly enhance future vegetation trend analyses. No surveys of invertebrates have been conducted in coastal ecosystems at Nuʻu or Kaʻāpahu, and no bird surveys from Nuʻu have been reported. Information on invertebrates at ‘Oheʻo is also very limited in geographic and temporal scope.”

Freshwater Ecosystems
“Continuous data on trends in aquatic biota are lacking for long time periods, but should be rectified with continued monitoring as part of the NPS I&M program. Information on aquatic insects, especially at higher elevations, including the three montane lakes in the park, is very limited. Also limited is information on status, trends, and ecological effects of invasive species in and around freshwater ecosystems.”

Forest Ecosystems
“Previously, repeated quantitative information on forest ecosystem vegetation (i.e., cover and richness, degree of non-native plant invasion) was fairly limited. This is in the process of being remedied via the FTPC and the EIPS monitoring protocols of the NPS I&M program (Ainsworth et al. 2011, 2012). The repeated monitoring of these two sets of plots, including most recently in 2017-2018, will allow for site-specific comparisons over time that will greatly enhance future vegetation trend analyses. However, mesic forests of Kaupō are not covered in these monitoring systems. Due to time and staff limitations, consistent monitoring is not conducted for most of the many threatened, endangered, or otherwise rare plant species in forest ecosystems, making assessment of trends in these species difficult. Repeated standardized monitoring of forest birds will provide greater certainty to assessments of population trends of native birds going forward. Although challenging to conduct, recent quantitative surveys of native forest invertebrate communities are lacking, leaving a large information gap for this highly diverse and ecologically important forest component.”

Bog Ecosystems
“Repeated quantitative vegetation data are limited spatially and temporally. No NPS I&M Focal Terrestrial Plant Community or Established Invasive Plant Species monitoring plots are located in bog ecosystems, yet additional vegetation plot data would greatly enhance future vegetation trend analyses. Information on invertebrate communities in bog ecosystems is very limited.”

Cave Ecosystems
“Currently, no monitoring plots are knowingly located directly above identified cave ecosystems. Data collected in such plots would provide site-specific information on the status and trends of native and non-native vegetation and could serve as an indicator of the status of potential energy inputs for the resident invertebrate community. Similarly, no monitoring plots are currently located around the mouths of caves or lava tubes, but would provide valuable data on the status and trends of rare and endangered terrestrial plants associated with these light-limited environments. Finally, more extensive and repeated surveys of cave faunas would provide more information on their status and trends, and identification of plant roots within caves would help inform their management (Howarth et al. 2007). However, because of the sensitive nature of these ecosystems, such intensified monitoring has the potential to degrade them, and thereby undermine the park’s mission to protect the biological, archaeological and cultural resources inside caves. Consultation with experienced biospeleologists and archaeologists is strongly advised when considering such activities.”

Shrubland Ecosystems
“Previously, repeated quantitative information on shrubland ecosystem vegetation (i.e., cover and richness, degree of non-native plant invasion) was lacking. This is in the process of being remedied via the FTPC and the EIPS monitoring protocols of the NPS I&M program (Ainsworth et al. 2011, 2012). The repeated monitoring of these two sets of plots will allow for site specific comparisons over time that will greatly enhance future vegetation trend analyses. Due to time and staff limitations, consistent monitoring is not conducted for most of the threatened, endangered, or otherwise rare plant species in shrubland ecosystems, making assessment of trends in these species difficult. While shrubland arthropod communities are fairly well characterized on the West Slope, less is known about communities in other shrubland areas, and other invertebrates like molluscs are even less poorly known. No monitoring protocol exists for shrubland invertebrate communities, which severely hampers assessment of changing conditions.”

Sub-alpine Ecosystems
"Repeated quantitative vegetation data are limited spatially and temporally. No NPS I&M Focal Terrestrial Plant Community monitoring plots or Established Invasive Plant Species fixed transects are located in subalpine grassland ecosystems, yet additional vegetation plot data would greatly enhance future vegetation trend analyses. Information on invertebrate communities or other biota in grassland ecosystems is limited or lacking."

Crater

“Previously, repeated quantitative information on Crater vegetation (i.e., cover and richness, degree of non-native plant invasion) was lacking. This is in the process of being remedied via the FTPC and the EIPS monitoring protocols of the NPS I&M program (Ainsworth et al. 2011, 2012). The repeated monitoring of these two sets of plots will allow for site specific comparisons over time that will greatly enhance future vegetation trend analyses. Due to time and staff limitations, consistent monitoring is not conducted for most of the threatened, endangered, or otherwise rare plant species in the Crater, making assessment of trends in these species difficult. While Crater arthropod communities were fairly well characterized in the 1970s, this information is now very dated, and other invertebrates like molluscs are even less poorly studied. No monitoring protocol exists for Crater invertebrate communities, which severely hampers assessment of changing conditions.”

Nuu Parcel
“Due to the rugged and steep terrain, and inaccessibility of much of the higher elevations of the Nuu Parcel, no NPS I&M vegetation plots or observation points were located above 4,000 ft elevation. Species richness and counts are therefore under-representative of the entire region, and particularly of the upper elevation remnant native communities. There is a complete lack of repeated quantitative vegetation information (i.e., cover, density, frequency) within the Nuu Parcel owing to its recent acquisition. The establishment of a network of such monitoring plots would allow for site specific comparisons over time that will greatly enhance future vegetation trend analyses. Information on vertebrate and invertebrate species is currently very limited or in most cases completely lacking.”

Threatened and Endangered Species
“For a number of the T&E species, including the invertebrate, bat, and several birds and plants, current or past population sizes are unknown. For most of the T&E species, repeated monitoring data allowing estimation of population trends are not available.”
 
Priority Research Areas Identified in the NRCA – Landscape Condition Context

Fuel and Fire Dynamics
“Fuel models specific to Hawaiian vegetation types are lacking, with a few localized exceptions. Better quantification of the distribution and fuel loads of non-native fire-prone vegetation would better characterize fire risk in different regions of the park.”

Soundscape
“Data on the number and frequency of helicopter air tours near the park would allow a much better assessment of the magnitude and trend of this source of noise, which is the main factor negatively affecting the HALE soundscape. In addition, very little to nothing is known about the impacts of noise on park wildlife.”

Viewscape
“Periodic monitoring of light pollution reaching HALE would allow for an assessment of a trend in the condition of dark night skies. Characterization of the nighttime photic environment within the Crater would also be useful information.”
 
Works Cited

Ainsworth, A., P. Berkowitz, J. D. Jacobi, R. K. Loh, and K. Kozar. 2011. Focal terrestrial plant communities monitoring protocol: Pacific Island Network. Natural Resource Report NPS/PACN/NRR—2011/410. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Ainsworth, A., J. D. Jacobi, R. K. Loh, J. A. Christian, C. Yanger, and P. Berkowitz. 2012. Established invasive plant species monitoring protocol: Pacific Island Network. Natural Resource Report NPS/PACN/NRR—2012/514. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Howarth, F.G. 1987. Evolutionary ecology of aeolian and subterranean habitats in Hawaii. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 2: 220-223.

Sullivan, T. J. 2016a. Air quality related values (AQRVs) in national parks: Effects from ozone; visibility reducing particles; and atmospheric deposition of acids, nutrients and toxics. Natural Resource Report NPS/ NRSS/ARD/NRR—2016/1196. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Sullivan, T. J. 2016b. Air quality related values (AQRVs) for Pacific Islands Network (PACN) parks: Effects from ozone; visibility reducing particles; and atmospheric deposition of acids, nutrients and toxics. Natural Resource Report NPS/PACN/NRR—2016/1181. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Last updated: December 13, 2019

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Mailing Address:

Haleakalā National Park
PO Box 369

Makawao, HI 96768

Phone:

(808) 572-4400

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