October 29, 2013 - "Examining the ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua Ecosystem with Dr. Dieter Mueller-Dombois"
In the early 1970s, a multidisciplinary team of forest biologists began a study of the intact native ecosystems in and around Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, in particular the 'ōhi'a lehua rainforest. Patches of dead 'ōhi'a stands were reported from the windward slopes of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. Aerial photo analyses by a team of federal and state foresters revealed rapidly spreading 'ōhi'a dieback. A killer disease was suspected to destroy the Hawaiian rain forest in the next 15-25 years, yet that never happened. In his new book, Rainforest: Born Among Hawaiian Volcanoes, Evolved in Isolation: The Story of a Dynamic Ecosystem with Relevance to Forests Worldwide, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa professor Dieter Mueller-Dombois explains what really happened and why the 'ōhi'a lehua rainforest survived intact as witnessed today.