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Field seminar goes behind scenes at volcanoes park

The Friends of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will host “Behind the Scenes II,” a special field seminar in the park’s nursery, herbarium and the bird and wildlife collection, which isn’t open to the general public. The event will be from 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23.

A presentation by Dr. Rhonda Loh and her staff will include a tour of the park’s rare plant propagation facility, where participants will see some of the rarest species on earth. From the coast to the alpine summit of Mauna Loa, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park — a World Heritage Site — protects a wide diversity of ecosystems and habitat for native Hawaiian plants and animals. Despite their protected status, native species face numerous threats from invasive plants, bird malaria, wildfires, and introduced goats, sheep, pigs, and rats inside the park, as well as habitat loss outside park boundaries.

Participants will be given an opportunity to see the park’s research collection of botanical and zoological specimens. Botanist Linda Pratt and wildlife biologist Dr. Thane Pratt will lead a tour of the treasure trove held in this mini-museum. Nearly all species of plants and birds known to live, or to have once lived, in the park are represented.

Loh is chief of Natural Resources Management at HVNP. She received her master’s degree in chemistry from Stanford University and her doctorate in b otany from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She began her work with the National Park Service in 1989 as a volunteer biologist for HVNP. As vegetation program manager from 1998-2006, she directed programs dealing with management of disruptive invasive weeds, recovery of federally listed native plant species, fire ecology, habitat restoration, and vegetation mapping. Loh currently leads the Natural Resources Division in the protection and recovery of native Hawaiian ecosystems, flora, and fauna in the park. She also serves as a certified faculty member in the Tropical Conservation & Environmental Science graduate program at the UH-Hilo. In 2004, she received the Regional Director’s Resources Management Award in recognition of excellence, achievements, and contributions to the National Park Service.

Dr. Thane Pratt retired in 2009 from a 20-year career as a wildlife biologist with the Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey, based in HVNP. The culmination of years of the center’s bird research was the book Conservation Biology of Hawaiian Forest Birds (Yale University Press, 2009), with Pratt as chief editor. Born in Honolulu, he attended Hawaii Preparatory Academy, and then earned his bachelor’s in biology and ecology from Colby College and his doctorate in ecology from Rutgers University. He is currently a research associate at Bishop Museum, an alternate trustee on the Cooke Foundation, a docent at the Volcano Art Center, and writing a second edition of Birds of New Guinea (Princeton University Press, 2014).

Linda Pratt is a botanist with the U. S. Geological Survey, Pacific Islands Ecosystem Research Center, and Kilauea Field Station. She has carried out botanical research in HVNP for more than 25 years and is the co-author (with Charles Stone) of “Hawaii’s Plants and Animals: Biological Sketches of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.” She holds a master’s in botanical sciences from UH-Manoa and a bachelor’s in biology from the University of Miami.

This event is presented by the Hawaii Volcanoes Institute, an educational seminar sponsored by the Friends of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a nonprofit organization.

Program cost is $25 for Friends members and $35 for non-members. Non-members are welcome to join the Friends in order to get the member discount. Proceeds support the Friends of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park educational programs.

To register for the seminar, call 985-7373, email institute@fhvnp.org or visit www.fhvnp.org.


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