NPS staffer completes & co-authors study

Some dead Tamaligi seen here on this July 2006 photo at the Siufaga area of the Fagasa unit of the National Park of American Samoa. The local National Park Service Terrestrial Ecologist, Tavita Togia, has completed a study and co-authors the scientific publication of the effects of the Tamaligi tree. He is in the forest daily with a NPS crew, made up of Samoan youth from across the territory, in an effort to protect the unique and fragile rainforest ecosystem. [photo: NPS/Tavita Togia]

The National Park of American Samoa has continued its contribution to scientific work in the territory with the completion and publication of a new study on the effects of the Tamaligi tree, a destructive non-native invasive tree, on native forest and the positive results of its removal.

Tavita Togia, national park terrestrial ecologist, has worked with Dr. Flint Hughes, Amanda Uowolo and the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station’s Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry in Hilo, Hawaii for several years on this study. The forest plots for this research are located within the national park.

Togia and the national park crew are responsible for the removal of the Tamiligi trees and for the field work support required for this research. Dr. Hughes and Togia have collaborated for many years to use science to better manage the native resources of American Samoa.

Under the leadership of Togia, the national park crew, made up of Samoan youth from across the territory, is in the forest daily in an effort to protect the unique and fragile rainforest ecosystem. They have successfully eradicated all mature tamaligi trees from within the park boundaries. This work continues through the removal of saplings in the park.

High Chief Atuatasi and the Fagasa Village Council have supported invasive species work in partnership with the national park within their village lands for many years. The national park has also been working with the villages of Pago Pago, Matu’u and Faganeanea to remove Tamaligi from village lands near park boundaries.

The national park has also begun eradication and research of other damaging invasive species in the forest.

The work does not stop with destroying the invasive species. A healthy forest is a forest more likely to resist damage from invasive species or climate change. In the past ten years, the national park crew has replanted six acres of forest within the national park with native trees. These areas had been covered with non-native species and, after clearing the disturbed land, native tree saplings, such as ifilele and asi, were planted in their place. When the trees have fully matured, a healthy forest ecosystem will be in place in about six years. You can visit these one acre plots and see the progress of the forest by hiking the Mt Alava Trail starting at Fagasa Pass. The published paper, entitled “Recovery of native forest after removal of an invasive tree, Falcataria moluccana [Tamaligi], in America Samoa,” describes how effective native forest restoration can be with the removal of this invasive tree.

It is published in the Journal of Biological Invasions, a Springer Verlang publication.

The paper’s abstract reads as follows, “…Here, we present results concerning the effects of invasion by a non-native, N[itrogen]-fixing tree, Falcataria moluccana, on native-dominated forests of American Samoa and the response of invaded forests to its removal... Biomass of native Samoan tree species following removal of F. moluccana accumulated rapidly…at which point biomass of F. moluccana-removal plots did not differ significantly from native-dominated forest plots...once F. moluccana is removed, native tree species grow rapidly, exploiting the legacy of increased available soil N[itrogen] and available sunlight...”

Please contact Tavita Togia at 633-7082x50 for access to a full copy of the paper.

(Source: National Park of American Samoa media release)


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