About the project

Alakai Swamp, Kauai, Hawaii

The Alaka`i Swamp

From September 1998-October 2000, thousands of caterpillars were collected and reared from the Alaka`i Swamp, island of Kaua`i, Hawai`i. These pages present photos and natural history information gatheredĀ from this project.

Using the rearing data, we constructed quantitative food webs of plants, moths, and wasps found on each of two 25 x 200m plots over two years. The webs andĀ species lists can also be viewed on the Science website. The species on the Science site, however, represent only those collected systematically on our research plots. The species lists at this site include plot species, plus some other species we collected in the swamp, but not as part of our quantitative sampling. The plant species listed at this site include only those species from which at least one caterpillar was collected.

A summary of our findings and the implications for the community of endemic Kauaian Lepidoptera can be found in the following paper:


Henneman, M.L. and Memmott, J. 2001. Infiltration of a Hawaiian community by introduced biological control agents. Science 293:1314-1316
— and in an accompanying News of the Week article by Erik Stokstad.

You can also listen to an interview with Dr. Laurie Henneman about the project broadcast on NPR (RealPlayer required) on August 16, 2001.

We had invaluable help from many scientists with specimen identification and curation:

In addition, Russell Messing, University of Hawai`i Plant and Environmental Protection Services, and the University of Hawai`i Kaua`i Agricultural Research Center generously provided laboratory and rearing facilities and equipment. Dean Jamieson (retired, Hawai` i State Department of Agriculture) assisted often with collection and rearing. Permits were provided by Ed Petteys and Wayne Souza, Division of Forestry and Wildlife
and Division of State Parks, respectively, at the State of Hawai`i Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Funding was provided by the Leverhulme Trust.