Arthropods from ‘ōhi‘a lehua (Myrtaceae: Metrosideros polymorpha), with new records for the Hawaiian Islands

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2004

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Gruner, D. S. 2004. Arthropods from ‘ōhi‘a lehua (Myrtaceae: Metrosideros polymorpha), with new records for the Hawaiian Islands. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 78:33-52

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Abstract

This paper presents new records, range extensions, and a checklist of arthropod species found associated with the most common and widespread native tree in the Hawaiian Islands, ‘öhi‘a lehua (Myrtaceae: Metrosideros polymorpha Gaudichaud-Beaupré). Metrosideros polymorpha is found on all the main islands, naturally occurs from sea level to tree line (>2000 m), in dry, mesic, and wet forests, and is the canopy dominant in old growth and the first woody colonist on recent basaltic lava flows (Dawson & Stemmerman, 1990). Numerous insect species use ‘öhi‘a lehua as a resource for either food or habitat space, and it may have the largest fauna of any native plant (Southwood, 1960; Stein, 1983). Metrosideros is an important, year-round nectar resource for native bees, moths, thrips and other insects, and for native nectarivorous birds, such as the ‘apapane (Himatione sanguinea), ‘i‘iwi (Vestiara coccinea), and ‘akohekohe (Palmeria dolei). Metrosideros also provides important habitat for birds that forage for arthropod prey in the foliage (e.g., ‘akepa [Loxops coccineus]) and bark (e.g., Hawai‘i creeper [Oreomystis mana]). It can be argued that M. polymorpha is the backbone of Hawaiian forests and one of the most important resources for the long-term stability of ecosystems and watersheds in the islands.

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