Kauai Oo Moho braccatus Scientific name definitions

Paul W. Sykes Jr., Angela K. Kepler, Cameron B. Kepler, and J. Michael Scott
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020
Text last updated January 1, 2000



Forests of Hawaiian Is. have been described in detail (Hillebrand 1888, Rock 1913, Nature Conservancy Of Hawai'i I. 1987, Cuddihy and Stone 1990). For detailed descriptions of Hawaiian vegetation, see Wagner et al. Wagner et al. 1985, Wagner et al. 1990, and Scott et al. 1986 . Vegetation is most often characterized according to elevation (coastal, lowland montane, subalpine, alpine) and moisture (dry, mesic, wet), as well as regime topography floristics and plant physiognomy (Cuddihy and Stone 1990). Forests on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, Moloka‘i, and Hawai‘i, where meliphagids have been known to occur, have canopies dominated by <10 species, primarily ‘öhi‘a and koa (Acacia koa), or both. ‘Öhi‘a forests, from sea level to 1,800 m elevation, range from 5–30 m in height, and canopy closure is very open to closed, with variable understory dominated by small trees and shrubs. ‘Ölapa (Cheirodendron spp.) often occurs as a codominant in lower-stature (e.g., 5 m) ‘öhi‘a forests. Other understory plants include tree ferns (Cibotium spp.), terrestrial ferns (e.g. Dryopteris spp.), and flowering/fruiting shrubs and vines providing food for meliphagids, such as lobeliads (Lobelia, Clermontia, Cyanea spp.) and ‘ie‘ie (Freycinetia arborea). Koa forests occur up to 2,000 m elevation in very open to closed canopy situations; understory species vary, and terrestrial and tree ferns, shrubs, and small trees are common. Perkins (Perkins 1903) noted that Hawai‘i and Bishop's ‘ö‘ö did not thrive in forests made open by grazing cattle.

Kaua‘i ‘Ö‘ö. Inhabited forests from sea level to mountaintops on Kaua‘i (Wilson and Evans 1890, Henshaw 1902a, Perkins 1903, Munro 1944a, Olson and James 1982b), but by early 1900s, was confined to higher-elevation forests, principally Alaka‘i Swamp (see Figure 2) in central part of the island (Munro 1944a, Richardson and Bowles 1964, Sincock et al. 1984). Richardson and Bowles (Richardson and Bowles 1964) described habitat as thick forest, with ‘ö‘ö preferring high-elevation canyons rather than forested ridges. Scott et al. (Scott et al. 1986) indicated that ‘ö‘ö historically used 6 forest types: arid low-elevation woodland, dry lowland forest, mesic lowland forest, mesic montane forest, wet lowland forest, and wet montane forest.

Alaka‘i Swamp is not a true swamp, but a high montane plateau dissected by numerous forested ravines and valleys and bordered by sheer, deep canyons (Scott et al. 1986, Conant et al. 1998). It is a 52-km2subtropical to temperate rain forest averaging 1,220 m in elevation. About 58% of area is deeply dissected, 28% gently sloping or flat, 11% low swamp vegetation, and 3% treeless bog (Woudt and Nelson 1963). Ridges between streams often are broad and flat, with many bogs. Rainfall is frequent each day and fairly uniform throughout year, averaging about 510 cm annually (J. L. Sincock unpubl.). Mount Wai‘ale‘ale (elevation 1,569 m), one of the wettest places on Earth, with mean annual rainfall of 1,415 cm (Giambelluca et al. 1986), is located in se. Alaka‘i. This very wet forest is dominated by ‘öhi‘a ranging in height from 1 to 24 m, with lapalapa (Cheirodendron platyphyllum) and ‘ölapa (C. trigynum) as common subdominants. Over much of area, ‘öhi‘a forms dense canopy, with numerous emergent snags (Scott et al. 1986, Conant et al. 1998, J. L. Sincock unpubl.). Forest vegetation very dense, even at ground level, heavily overgrown with epiphytes. Epiphytic community is prolific, with abundant mosses, ferns, and flowering plants (Conant et al. 1998).

O‘ahu ‘Ö‘ö. No information. Probably found throughout native forest on O‘ahu I.

Bishop's ‘Ö‘ö. Found in high montane forest, including cliffs, dense tangled brush of boggy mountaintops, and low brush (Perkins Perkins 1895, Perkins 1903)—areas dominated by ‘öhi‘a forests Moloka‘i I. Probably originally inhabited all native forest from sea level to mountaintops. Quoting Henry Palmer, Rothschild (Rothschild 1893a: 16 [Di.]) states, “It was found in the lower and upper forest-region, but more in the latter.” More recent sighting (Sabo 1982) on northeast flank of Haleakalä Crater, Maui, was in montane rain forest of ‘öhi‘a, with understory of ‘ölapa (Cheirodendron trigynum), pilo (Coprosma ochracea), and pükiawe (Styphelia tameiameiae).

Hawai‘i ‘Ö‘ö. Inhabited all forests from sea level to tree line on Hawai‘i I. (Wilson and Evans 1890, Rothschild 1893a, Perkins 1893b, Henshaw 1902a, Munro 1944a). Forest habitats used included arid low-elevation, dry lowland, dry montane, mesic lowland, mesic montane, wet lowland, and wet montane (Scott et al. 1986).

Kioea. Little information. Peale (Peale 1848: 148) stated, “frequents woody districts,” and on the basis of fossil records and fragmentary notes in the old literature, Scott et al. (Scott et al. 1986) concluded that Kioea occurred primarily in dry woodland or scrubland below 1,500 m elevation. Historically, probably inhabited native forests down to sea level on Hawai‘i I.

Kauai Oo Figure 2. Range of Kaua'i 'Ö'ö: originally from sea level to mountaintops throughout Kaua'i
Figure 2. Range of Kaua'i 'Ö'ö: originally from sea level to mountaintops throughout Kaua'i

1968–1973, in Alaka‘i Swamp (light blue shading; Sincock et al. 1983, Scott et al. 1986); and about 1974–1987, in small southeast sector of Alaka‘i Swamp (dark blue shading). Alaka‘i Swamp is a generalized region that has no precise boundary; its border, open to interpretation, is shown as a dashed line.

Recommended Citation

Sykes Jr., P. W., A. K. Kepler, C. B. Kepler, and J. M. Scott (2020). Kauai Oo (Moho braccatus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.kauoo.01