Coastal and lowland dry shrublands occur on the lowest leeward slopes of the higher Hawaiian Islands, and on all but the summit regions of the islands of Lana’i, Kaho’olawe and Ni’ihau. This ecoregion also includes the terrestrial portions of all of the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, mostly comprised of atolls and small basalt remnants. Vegetation includes grasslands of Eragrostis, Fimbristylis, Sporobolus, and Lepturus, and mixed shrublands dominated by one or more of Sida, Dodonaea, Scaevola, Heliotropium, Gossypium, Chamaesyce, Chenopodium, Myoporum, Vitex, Anthium, and Styphelia. Non-tree plant diversity of this ecoregion is high (more than 200 species) and highly endemic (more than 90% endemic). Tree diversity is relatively low.
Over 90 percent of the Hawaiian Low Shrublands have been lost to development or displacement by alien vegetation. Small, degraded examples of the natural communities of the ecoregion remain. Kaho’olawe Island is a natural/cultural reserve, and Mo’omomi Preserve on Moloka’i is managed by The Nature Conservancy of Hawai’i. The northwestern Hawaiian Islands comprise a USFWS refuge.
Types and Severity of Threats
Fire, weed invasions, feral animals (especially goats and deer), and continued development threaten this ecoregion.
Suite of Priority Activities to Enhance Biodiversity Conservation
•Hawaii Natural Heritage Program
•The Nature Conservancy
•The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii
Relationship to other classification schemes
The Hawaiian Low Shrublands encompasses a portion of Küchler’s (1985) unit 1 (Schlerophyllus forest, shrubland, and grassland). Omernik (1995) did not classify Hawaii, and Bailey (1994) clumped all of Hawaii into one unit.
Prepared by: Sam Gon