This website provides background and links to many aspects of the biodiversity of Hawaiʻi. A huge amount of valuable, interesting, and critical information for understanding and appreciating Hawaiian biodiversity is available but widely scattered and hard to find with simple internet searches.
In a nutshell the website is an effort to gather a substantial body of the basic information on Hawaiʻi’s terrestrial ecosystems and species biodiversity, and to attempt a brief summary for some categories of information.
I hope it will help people understand and appreciate this aspect of the amazing story of Hawaiʻi!
While Hawaiʻi is considered by many to be the endangered species capital of the world, it was, and still is in many ways, what Hawaiians might characterize as Aina Momona – a rich land or landscape. Due to its high level of endemism (organisms found only here in Hawaiʻi) and spectacular radiation of some groups of organisms, and the great risk of loss for many of its species, there is, or should be, great interest in Hawaiʻi’s biodiversity.
What is Covered? What Types of Biodiversity?
Three levels of biodiversity are generally recognized: ecosystems, species, and genes. This website only addresses the first two and the information on species focuses almost exclusively on those that are indigenous (native) to the islands. Marine species and biodiversity specific to the northwest Hawaiian Islands are not included.
Why is Hawaiʻi Special?
In a nutshell, as a result of its remoteness and remarkable geography, Hawaiʻi has some of the most amazing examples of evolution. Some of the details of this uniqueness is explained on this page.
Endemism (species found only in Hawaiʻi) is one measure of biodiversity and the most recent summary of the Hawaiʻi Biological Survey records 9,164 endemic species (marine species excluded). Details are on this page.
A beautiful introductory story for Hawaiʻi with great photos is here: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150625-islands-where-evolution-ran-riot.
“Assume nothing in Hawaiian natural history” —Frank Howarth, 1992