Biodiversity of small tropical islands


1991 to 2011


The study of native insect biodiversity on small, isolated tropical islands provides support for conserving native montane ecosystems. These systems provide the water necessary for life on those islands. Native species are restricted to where invasive alien species have not become established, and so biotic survey for natives provides a signal about environmental health.


The incredible levels of biodiversity on these islands begs the question of how they have evolved. The answer to this question has been a part of evolutionary biology since the islands were discovered by western science. Information about biodiversity can be used by local resource managers to muster support for conservation efforts.


Hawaii has a well developed network of federal, state, private and NGO operatives to whom I've provided information on insect diversity. These data have been used to establish the Kaluanui Natural Area Reserve on Oahu (
In French Polyensia, I provide information to the Gump Biological Station and Jean-Yves Meyer ( so that they may use it in their outreach activities.


Public hearings were held on Jan. 23, 2013 regarding establishment of a new Kaluanui Natural Area Reserve in northern Oahu. If the reserve is established, it will allow Hawaii state personnel to restrict the movement of invasive species into the reserve, thereby protecting the watershed. This would enhance job opportunities within the Hawaiian conservation biology community and ensure sustainable water resources from the mountains.

Submitted by: 

  • Liebherr, James K

Researchers involved: 

  • Liebherr, James K

Organizations involved: 

  • Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources

International focus: 

  • French Polynesia
  • United States of America

United States focus: 

  • Hawaii