|Most recent IBA monitoring assessment|
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La'na'i is the sixth largest of the Hawaiian Islands and once formed part of the larger island of Maui Nui, which also included Maui, Moloka'i and Kaho'olawe. La'na'ihale, meaning "house of La'na'i," is the highest ridge that comprises the summit of the island at 1030 meters, and was formed by cavitation and collapse of the ancient volcanic summit, leaving what is now a high ridge. The La'na'ihale IBA consists of all parts of the island above 2,000 feet elevation and encompasses 2,195 hectares, including the summit ridge, adjacent side-ridges, and the portions of slopes below the summit that are covered in native ferns. La'na'i is in the rain shadow of higher and more massive mountains on Maui, and the upland areas of La'na'ihale receive between 760 and 1015 mm of rain each year. Northeasterly trade winds provide additional moisture from fog drip (moisture collected by vegetation from low clouds and fog) and this represents a significant contribution to the islands aquifer. The vegetation over much of La'na'i was cleared for cultivation of pineapple over a century ago, and little natural habitat remains. Alien plants dominate most of the island, but the upper slopes of La'na'ihale support a remnant area of native forest, shrubland, and ferns. A variety of mammals have been introduced to the island and become feral, including goats, cattle, sheep, and axis deer. Goats were eradicated from La'na'ihale in 1982, but overgrazing and browsing by remaining ungulates continues to cause significant loss of vegetative cover and erosion.
The avifauna of La'na'i has been decimated by severe habitat degradation, predation by alien mammals, and disease. However, a relatively large and extremely important nesting colony of the endangered Hawaiian petrel or 'ua'u (Pterodroma sandwichensis) was discovered recently on La'na'ihale, the highest part of the island. Hawaiian petrels were known to occur on La'na'i previously, but the large size of the colony was not realized until surveys were conducted in March 2006. The number of Hawaiian Petrels using the area is not known exactly, but there may be several thousand birds present during the spring pre-breeding and courtship period. The colony area covers the summit ridge of La'na'ihale, the upper portions of adjacent side-ridges, and areas of uluhe fern (Dicranopteris linearis and Diploptyrigium pinnatum) habitat on the slopes below. The only native forest bird still present on La'na'i is the 'Apapane (Himatione sanguinea), which occurs in very small numbers near the summit of La'na'ihale. A few additional seabird species nest in other areas of La'na'i in small numbers, including Wedge-tailed Shearwater or 'ua'u kani (Puffinus pacificus), Bulwer's Petrel or 'ou (Bulweria bulwerii), White-tailed Tropicbird or Koa'e Kea (Phaethon lepturus dorotheae), and possibly Band-rumped Storm-petrel or 'Ake'ake (Oceanodroma castro).
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lana`ihale. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/05/2022.