Two of ACE’s Pacific West crews will be supporting the Maui Invasive Species Committee, a project of the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit, within the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii with efforts to control infestations of two highly invasive species, the Coqui frog and miconia (Miconia calvescens). This work will be supported remotely by ACE Pacific West Restoration Specialist, Julia Parish, and ACE Pacific West Director Eric Robertson.
Upon arrival to the island of Maui last week, two ACE crews comprised of 11 individuals total began a two-week quarantine period in shared housing provided by the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project. In these two weeks prior to starting service with the Maui Invasive Species Committee, both crews will prepare for project by participating in online training and service opportunities, including Hawaii based natural and cultural history discussions, an intensive project orientation coined “Coqui College”, and maintaining native plant outplanting sites on the housing property. For more information on the mission of each project, continue reading below.
Coqui control crew
Led by ACE Crew Leader Tess Herman, the ACE Coqui Control Crew will be surveying for coqui frogs and treating infested areas with citric acid. Coqui frogs (Eleutherodactylus coqui) were accidentally introduced to Hawaii on imported nursery plants. Hawaii’s native species did not evolve with amphibians, so there are no natural predators to maintain coqui populations. On the island of Hawaii, densities of coqui were recorded as high as 2,000 frogs per acre, which is more than twice the density found in their native range of Puerto Rico.
Coqui impact the quality of life of residents and visitors as their distinctive “KO-kee” nocturnal call may reach decibel levels that cause hearing damage (90+ decibels, or a motorcycle or ATV). The most significant negative impact these tiny frogs have is due to their voracious appetite for insects. Research indicates that they will eat most insects they find, except for two of the most invasive insect species in Hawaii – the Little Fire Ant and mosquitoes. Due to Hawaii’s remoteness, it is home to insect species found nowhere else on the planet, and these unique species are threatened by the presence of coqui. The ACE Coqui Crew will be working to prevent this invasive frog from spreading into upland native forests and decimating native arthropod and forest bird populations.
Miconia management crew
Under the direction of ACE Crew Leader Ian Cockrill, the Miconia Management Crew will survey for and control miconia (Miconia calvescens), an invasive tree introduced to Hawaii via the plant trade industry. Miconia is native to rainforests of Central and South America where it primarily invades treefall gaps and is relatively uncommon. In Hawaii and other Pacific Islands, Miconia is considered one of the most destructive invaders of insular tropical rain forests, as it grows in dense stands which crowd or shade out native plant species, reduces rainwater recharge of aquifers while increasing soil erosion, and threatens already at risk native fauna populations as miconia reduces habitat availability.