New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1998) 22(1): 1- 9

Vegetation succession (1967-89) on five recent montane lava flows, Mauna Loa, Hawaii

Research Article
Bruce D. Clarkson  
  1. Landcare Research, Private Bag 3127, Hamilton, New Zealand

Vegetation succession on 4 recent (1852-1942) montane lava Rows on Mauna Loa, Hawaii, was remeasured 22 years after the first measurement in 1967. Colonisation patterns of vascular plant species were observed on a new lava flow (1984) which overwhelmed part of the earlier studied 1852 flow. An influx of adventive species, positively correlated with flow age, was noted at the remeasured sites; most were herbs and grasses that do not appear to interfere with the succession to Metrosideros- dominated forest. Some indigenous species important in older forest, e.g., Cibotium glaucum, had apparently colonised all four remeasured flows regardless of flow age. Densities and total basal area of Metrosideros polymorpha increased on all flows, but a closed-canopy forest had not yet developed. Vascular plant aggregations comprising a mixture of adventive and indigenous species were found on the 1984 flow associated with soil or logs of the overwhelmed forest. This phenomenon may allow rare individual Metrosideros trees to be in place on a new flow within 10 years of its formation. A closed-canopy, self-thinned Metrosideros forest can develop within 400 years but dieback of colonising Metrosideros individuals and/or invasion of adventive species capable of altering ecosystem processes can delay this process.