Rain Forest Relationships
Unit 2 – Rain Forest Relationships
In this unit, students learn about some of the main species in the rain forests of Haleakalā and how they are related within the unique structure of Hawaiian rain forests.
The primary canopy trees in the rain forest of Haleakalā and throughout the Hawaiian Islands are ‘ōhi‘a (Metrosideros polymorpha) and koa (Acacia koa). At upper elevations, including the cloud forest zone within the rain forest, ‘ōhi‘a dominates and koa is absent. In the middle and lower elevation rain forests, below about 1250 meters (4100 feet), koa dominates, either intermixed with ‘ōhia, or sometimes forming its own distinct upper canopy layer above the ‘ōhi’a.
These dominant tree species coexist with many other plants, insects, birds, and other animals. Hawaiian rain forests are among the richest of Hawaiian ecosystems in species diversity, with most of the diversity occurring close to the forest floor. This pattern is in contrast to continental rain forests, where most of the diversity is concentrated in the canopy layer.
Today, native species within the rain forests on Haleakalā include more than 240 flowering plants, 100 ferns, somewhere between 600-1000 native invertebrates, the endemic Hawaiian hoary bat, and nine endemic birds in the honeycreeper group.
Length of Entire Unit
Activities in this unit
Students learn about the Haleakalā rain forest by watching a slide show and writing about their feelings about the importance of preserving native rain forests.
Students research a native rain forest species, finding and presenting information about it in an educational and attractive format.
Students present information about native rain forest species.
#4 - Rain Forest Trivia
In teams, students demonstrate their knowledge of rain forest species.
Five class periods.
Unit Focus Questions
1. What is the basic structure of the Haleakalā rain forest?
2. What are some of the plant and animal species that are native to the Haleakalā rain forest? Where are they found within the rain forest structure?
3. How do these plants and animals interact with each other, and how are they significant in traditional Hawaiian culture and to people today?
Native plant and animal species and relationships. Structure of Hawaiian rain forests.
Hawaiian rain forests are among the richest of Hawaiian ecosystems in species diversity, with most of the diversity occurring close to the forest floor. This pattern distinguishes Hawaiian rain forests from continental rain forests, where most of the diversity is concentrated in the canopy layer.
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• Following the instructions in Activity #2, research and create species cards for introduced species. Here is a list of some familiar introduced species.
Polynesian Introduced Plants
• Kukui or candlenut tree (Aleurites moluccana)
• Wauke or paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera)
• Maiʻa or banana (Musa x Paradisiaca)
• ʻUlu or breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis)
• Kalo or taro (Colocasia esculenta)
• Awa or kava (Piper methysticum)
• ‘Ohe or Hawaiian bamboo (Schizostachyum glaucifolium)
• ʻŌhiʻa ʻai or mountain apple (Syzygium malaccense)
Recent Plant Introductions
• Kāhili ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum)
• Strawberry guava and common guava (Psidium cattleianum and Psidium guajava)
• African tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata)
• Lilikoi or passionfruit (Passiflora edulis)
• Avocado (Persea americana)
• Polynesian rat (Rattus exulans)
• Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus)
• Black rat (Rattus rattus)
• Pig (Sus scrofa)
• Cat (Felis catus)
• Axis deer (Axis axis)
• Small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus)
• Domestic goat (Capra hircus)
• Use the rain forest species cards from Activity #2 to create a representation—such as a large drawing, a model, or a collage—of the Haleakalā rain forest. The representation should show the structure of the rain forest, where different species live, and some of the important relationships among species within the rain forest.
• Adapt the “Web of Life Game” using the rain forest species cards (Activity #2). This game builds knowledge about relationships among species. (See Alpine/Aeolian Unit 3, Activity #4 “Web of Life Game.”)
• Make up and play different games using the rain forest species cards (Activity #2).
• Research native species that are endemic to Haleakalā. Some of the species cards from Activity #2, such as the one for Hawaiian lobeliads, encompass many species. Some of these are unique to Haleakalā.
Resources for Further Reading
Hawaiʻi Audubon Society, Hawaiʻi’s Birds, 5th ed., Hawaiʻi Audubon Society, Honolulu, 1997.
Medeiros, Arthur C., and Lloyd L. Loope, Rare Animals and Plants of Haleakalā National Park, Hawaiʻi Natural History Association, Hawaiʻi National Park, 1994.
Moanalua Garden Foundation, Forest Treasures (CD ROM), 2000.
Stone, Charles P., and Linda W. Pratt, Hawaiʻi’s Plants and Animals; Biological Sketches of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, Hawaiʻi Natural History Association, National Park Service, and University of Hawaiʻi Cooperative National Park Resources Study Unit, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes.