Habitat Restoration Program

General Information

Habitat restoration is one of the largest focuses for field camps. These includes projects such as the eradication of invasive plants, restoration of native plants, as well as pest management. And over the years, management objectives have aimed to constantly modify field efforts in response to maintaining a balance between restoring an ecosystem and the impact the ecosystem receives from sudden changes.

Native Plant Restoration Project

Invasive Tree & Plant Eradication Project

The eradication program aims for a long-term resilient and diverse ecosystem. 5 out of the 45 plants on Kure are considered invasive; either because they have invaded large areas or appear to be adversely affecting the ecosystem.

The most damaging are V. encelioides and Cenchrus echinatus, both of which have caused drastic habitat changes on the island by forming monospecific stands and shading out or otherwise replacing native vegetation communities.

The ultimate target is complete eradication of Verbesina encelioides from Kure Atoll.

Habitat Restoration on the Abandoned USCG Runway Project

Today, the Southwest end of the runway is called The Landfill. The Landfill is a main focal point for habitat restoration as a way to rebuild the dunes and encourage black-footed and Laysan albatross to move their nest sites away from the vulnerable beachfront onto the adjacent elevated runway where there is increased protection from storm surge and tsunamis

In 2016 an intensive restoration project began to break up the coral runway, adding fresh sand and planting native plants to create high-quality nesting habitat.

Dune Restoration and Creation Project

The main long-term conservation outcomes are to:

    • Expand the resilient native plant community
    • Increase breeding seabird population
    • Increase shorebird foraging habitat
    • Increase population and foraging habitat of Laysan Ducks
    • Increase native plant and invertebrate biological diversity

Laysan Duck Translocation & Habitat Creation

Years of Preparation
Guzzlers Installed
Seaps Created
Ducks Translocated

In 2014, after years of habitat restoration work and coordinating with multiple agencies, 28 wild first year Laysan Ducks were chosen to be apart of the first translocation from Midway to Kure for an additional ‘insurance’ population to reduce extinction risks to the species.

From 2005-2014, each season’s fieldwork would contribute to a succession of objectives focused on creating a habitable environment for this critically endangered population.

Pest Management

Project Overview

Big-headed ants (Pheidole megacephala) were widespread on Green Island and regularly observed attacking adult seabirds and chicks. An eradication program began on July 2, 2014. Two full-island treatments of Amdro were conducted at this rate with the use of blowers, hand-cranks and a walk behind applicator.

Shortly after the big-headed ant control began large numbers of arthropod species, especially beetles were noticed. This resurgence may demonstrate the severity of the Big-headed ants’ impact on the ecosystem.

Monitoring for BHA continues twice per year (once per field season)

Big-headed Ants (Pheidole megacephala)

Invasive ants are a significant conservation concern and can have far-reaching effects in ecosystems they invade. Limited unpublished observations of this particular ant species attacking nesting seabirds exist, but the frequency of attacks or how they affect seabird growth and survival are unknown.