Big Island. Big Dreams. Big Adventures.
Often referred to as one of the world’s greatest natural history stories, the incredible legacy of the Hawaiian island chain begins with geology. Trillions of tons of rock, driven up from the earth’s molten mantle through a localized hot spot, created landscapes like no other in the world. Over millions of years, plants, animals and insects made their way to this largest of all island chains. As each arrived, its survival depended upon adapting and evolving to exist in the new land. “A land like no other” meant that many of the species that evolved here were unique, and unlike anything else in the world. Sadly, some of the very adaptations these endemic species made leave them prone to attack from alien organisms.
Join us as we take a brief look at the wondrous story of Hawaii’s natural history; beginning with how the islands formed, and concluding with the threats the island ecosystems face today.
Everybody knows Hawaii has volcanoes. In fact, the Hawaiian islands are merely the tops of massive mountains rising from the ocean floor and built of layer upon layer of lava. A volcano-making machine that geologists call a hot spot seethes deep beneath the island of Hawaii . Over the past 44 million years it has churned out 82 volcanoes that today form a vast archipelago which stretches across the Pacific… (more)
Biogeography is the study of how geography affects the biological world. Geographic features play a dominant role in shaping Hawaii’s natural world and make it a great place for biogeographic studies. The Hawaiian islands make up the most extensive archipelago on earth. They contain an incredible diversity of terrain, habitat, and climate zones. Because of its continuous formation . . . (more)
Hawaii is a world-class showcase of evolutionary processes. In fact, in many ways it surpasses the examples from the Galapagos Islands. Hawaii’s extreme isolation coupled with its phenomenal array of life zones allowed for the small pool of genetic information that arrived here to evolve in spectacular fashion. The first Hawaiian island… (more)
Along with its world-class showcase of biology, evolution, geology, and astronomy, Hawaii has also gained the regrettable reputation as the endangered species capital of the world. Conservationists consider Hawaii to be at the forefront of the global extinction crisis. A short trip around the Big Island . . . (more)