DistributionRead full entry
Range DescriptionHemignathus lucidus is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, U.S.A. The nominate subspecies, of O'ahu, went extinct in the mid-late 1800s. On Kaua'i, the subspecies hanapepe probably became confined to the Alaka'i Wilderness Preserve (Scott et al. 1986, Conant et al. 1998)where it was apparently recorded a few times in 1984-1998, although at least some, if not all, of these sightings appear to refer to H. kauaiensis (P. Baker in litt. 1999, Pratt and Pyle 1999, Pratt and Pyle 2000). Recent surveys on Kaua'i have failed to find it, and it seems likely to be extinct (Reynolds and Snetsinger 2001, R. Camp in litt. 2003). On Maui, the subspecies affinis was found on the eastern and north-eastern slopes of Haleakala, where there were several unconfirmed detections in 1986-1998, although a single male seen in 1995 (seen by more than one qualified observer and backed up by detailed field notes [Pratt and Pyle 1999]) in the same place as a report from 1994 provided strong evidence of its persistence (Reynolds et al. 1995, P. Baker in litt. 1999, Pratt and Pyle 1999). There have been no other confirmed sightings since then despite extensive effort in a large proportion of the historic range, including annual surveys by the National Park Service (NPS), two State sanctioned surveys, monthly surveys in Hanawi, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) surveys and efforts by the Maui Forest Bird Recovery team. Although not all of these programmes surveyed locations where the species was last observed, many surveyed highly likely locations (Pratt and Pyle 2000, R. Camp in litt. 2003). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (in review) concluded that in all probability this subspecies, and indeed the species, is extinct or functionally extinct. In addition, a recent statistical analysis of physical evidence and independent expert opinion, as part of a study into the burden of proof required for controversial sightings of possibly extinct species, concluded that this species has probably been extinct since the early 20th century; however, when controversial sightings are included in the analysis, the species's extinction is estimated to have occurred since the late 1990s (Roberts et al. 2009). This discrepancy occurs because some authors regard all sightings since 1900 as unconfirmed and thus controversial (Pratt and Pyle 2000, Roberts et al. 2009). The species, however, should not be reclassified as Extinct until further surveys have eliminated any reasonable doubt that the last individual has died. If any population remains, it is likely to be tiny.