Article | Published:

The potential of indigenous agricultural food production under climate change in Hawaiʻi

Nature Sustainabilityvolume 2pages191199 (2019) | Download Citation

Abstract

The value of land-use strategies that increase food production while conserving biodiversity is widely recognized. Many indigenous agroecosystems are productive, adaptive and ecologically principled, but are largely overlooked by planning in terms of their potential to meet current and future food needs. We developed spatial distribution models of indigenous agroecosystems in Hawai‘i to identify their potential past distribution, productive and carrying capacities, and future potential under current land-use and mild-to-severe future climate scenarios. Our results suggest that Hawaiʻi’s traditional agroecosystems could have had production levels comparable to consumption today. Carrying capacity estimates support hypotheses of large pre-colonial Hawaiian populations (>800,000). Urban development has reduced (−13%) traditional agroecosystems but 71% remain agriculturally zoned. Projected effects of three future climate scenarios vary from no change in potential production to decreases of 19% in the driest and warmest end-of-century scenario. This study highlights the food-producing potential of indigenous agriculture even under land-use and climate changes, and the value of their restoration into the future.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Data availability

The data and R scripts that support the findings of this study, as well as the resulting data layers are available at the University of Hawaiʻi data repository: https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/handle/10125/60445.

Additional information

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

References

  1. 1.

    Foley, J. A. et al. Global consequences of land use. Science 309, 570–574 (2005).

  2. 2.

    Bruinsma, J. (ed.) World Agriculture: Towards 2015/2030 https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315083858 (Routledge, London, 2003).

  3. 3.

    Tilman, D., Balzer, C., Hill, J. & Befort, B. L. Global food demand and the sustainable intensification of agriculture. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 108, 20260–20264 (2011).

  4. 4.

    IPCC Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report (eds Core Writing Team, Pachauri, R. K. & Meyer L. A.) (IPCC, 2014).

  5. 5.

    Mijatović, D., Van Oudenhoven, F., Eyzaguirre, P. & Hodgkin, T. The role of agricultural biodiversity in strengthening resilience to climate change: towards an analytical framework. Int. J. Agric. Sustain. 11, 95–107 (2012).

  6. 6.

    Dawson, I. K. et al. What is the relevance of smallholders’ agroforestry systems for conserving tropical tree species and genetic diversity in circa situm, in situ and ex situ settings? A review. Biodivers. Conserv. 22, 301–324 (2013).

  7. 7.

    Bhagwat, Sa, Willis, K. J., Birks, H. J. B. & Whittaker, R. J. Agroforestry: a refuge for tropical biodiversity? Trends. Ecol. Evol. 23, 261–267 (2008).

  8. 8.

    Berkes, F., Folke, C. & Gadgil, M. in Biodiversity Conservation. Ecology, Economy and Environment Vol. 4 (eds Perrings, C. A. et al.) 281–299 (Springer, Dordrecht, 1995).

  9. 9.

    Clarke, W. C. & Thaman, R. R. Agroforestry in the Pacific Islands: Systems for Sustainability (United Nations Univ. Press, Tokyo, 1993).

  10. 10.

    Wake up before It Is Too Late. Make Agriculture Truly Sustainable Now for Food Security in A Changing Climate UNCTAD/DITC/TED/2012/3 (United Nations, 2013).

  11. 11.

    Verchot, L. V. et al. Climate change: linking adaptation and mitigation through agroforestry. Mitig. Adapt. Strateg. Glob. Change 12, 901–918 (2007).

  12. 12.

    Loke, M. & Leung, P. Hawaiʻi’s food consumption and supply sources: benchmark estimates and measurement issues. Agric. Food Econ. 1, 10 (2013).

  13. 13.

    NASS Hawaiʻi statistics 2010. US Department of Agriculure, National Agricultural Statistics Service https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Hawaii/index.php (2012).

  14. 14.

    Melrose, J., Perroy, R. & Cares, S. Statewide Agricultural Land Use Baseline 2015 (Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Honolulu, 2015)

  15. 15.

    Eldredge, L. G. & Evenhuis, N. Hawaiʻi’s Biodiversity: A Detailed Assessment of the Numbers of Species in The Hawaiian Islands (Bishop Museum Ocassional Paper 76, Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, 2003).

  16. 16.

    Sustainability Task Force Hawai‘i 2050 Sustainability Plan (State of Hawaii, 2008).

  17. 17.

    Lincoln, N. et al. Restoration of ‘Āina Malo’o on Hawai’i Island: expanding biocultural relationships. Sustainability 10, 3985 (2018).

  18. 18.

    Levin, P. in Thinking Like an Island: Navigating a Sustainable Future in Hawaiʻi (eds Chirico, J. & Farley, G. S.) 79–124 (Univ. Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 2015).

  19. 19.

    Handy, E. S. C. The Hawaiian Planter: His Plants, Methods and Areas of Cultivation Bulletin 161 (Bishop Museum, Honolulu, 1940).

  20. 20.

    Kurashima, N. & Kirch, P. V. Geospatial modeling of pre-contact Hawaiian production systems on Moloka’i Island, Hawaiian Islands. J. Archaeol. Sci. 38, 3662–3674 (2011).

  21. 21.

    Kelly, M. Na mala o Kona: Gardens of Kona, A History of Land Use in Kona, Hawaiʻi Departmental Report Series 83-2 (Department of Anthropology, Bishop Museum, Honolulu, 1983).

  22. 22.

    Kurashima, N., Jeremiah, J. & Ticktin, T. I Ka Wa Ma Mua: the value of a historical ecology approach to ecological restoration in Hawai’i. Pac. Sci. 71, 437–456 (2017).

  23. 23.

    Lincoln, N. & Ladefoged, T. Agroecology of pre-contact Hawaiian dryland farming: the spatial extent, yield and social impact of Hawaiian breadfruit groves in Kona, Hawai’i. J. Archaeol. Sci. 49, 192–202 (2014).

  24. 24.

    Ladefoged, T. N. et al. Opportunities and constraints for intensive agriculture in the Hawaiian archipelago prior to European contact. J. Archaeol. Sci. 36, 2374–2383 (2009).

  25. 25.

    Keener, V. W., et al. (eds.). Climate Change and Pacific Islands: Indicators and Impacts. Report for The 2012 Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (Island Press, Washington DC, 2012).

  26. 26.

    Gross, J. Assessment of Future Agricultural Land Potential Using GIS and Regional Climate Projections for Hawaiʻi Island—An Application to Macadamia Nut and Coffee. Masters thesis, Univ. Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (2014).

  27. 27.

    Coulter, J. W. Population and Utilization of Land and Sea in Hawaii, 1853. Bishop Museum Bulletin 88 (Bishop Musuem, Honolulu, 1931).

  28. 28.

    Green, R. C. Makaha Valley Historical Project Interim Report No. 1, Pacific Anthropological Records No. 4. (Bernice P. Bishop Museum, Honolulu, 1970).

  29. 29.

    Kirch, P. V., Holson, J. & Baer, J. Intensive dryland agriculture in Kaupō, Maui, Hawaiian Islands. Asian Perspect. 48, 265–290 (2009).

  30. 30.

    Kirch, P. V. & Sahlins, M. Anahulu: The Anthropology of History in the Kingdom of Hawaii, Volume 2: The Archaeology of History (Univ. Chicago Press, Chicago, 1992).

  31. 31.

    Ladefoged, T. N. et al. Agricultural potential and actualized development in Hawai’i: an airborne LiDAR survey of the leeward Kohala field system (Hawai’i Island). J. Archaeol. Sci. 38, 3605–3619 (2011).

  32. 32.

    McCoy, M. D. Landscape, Social Memory, and Society: An Ethnohistoric-Archaeological Study of Three Hawaiian Communities. PhD dissertation, Univ. California, Berkeley (2006).

  33. 33.

    Allen, M. S. (ed). Gardens of Lono: Archaeological Investigations at the Amy B. H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden, Kealakekua, Hawaiʻi (Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, 1991).

  34. 34.

    Kirch, P. V. & Zimmerer, K. S. (eds) Roots of Conflict (School for Advanced Research Press, Santa Fe, 2011).

  35. 35.

    Frazier, A. G. & Giambelluca, T. W. Spatial trend analysis of Hawaiian rainfall from 1920 to 2012. Int. J. Climatol. 37, 2522–2531 (2017).

  36. 36.

    Takahashi, M. et al. Rainfall partitioning and cloud water interception in native forest and invaded forest in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Hydrol. Process. 25, 448–464 (2011).

  37. 37.

    Fujita, R., Braun, K. L. & Hughes, C. K. The traditional Hawaiian diet: a review of the literature. Pac. Health Dialog. 11, 250–259 (2004).

  38. 38.

    Handy, E. S. C., Handy, E. G. & Pukui, M. K. Native Planters in Old Hawaiʻi: Their Life, Lore, and Environment Bulletin 233 (Bishop Museum, Honolulu, 1972).

  39. 39.

    Kagawa, A. K. & Vitousek, P. M. The Ahupua’a of Puanui: a resource for understanding Hawaiian rain-fed agriculture 1. Pac. Sci. 66, 161–172 (2012).

  40. 40.

    Loke, M. K. & Leung, P. Competing food concepts—implications for Hawai’i, USA. Food Energy Secur. 2, 174–184 (2013).

  41. 41.

    Altieri, Ma Agroecology, small farms, and food sovereignty. Mon. Rev. 61, 102–113 (2009).

  42. 42.

    Schmitt, R. C. Demographic Statistics of Hawaiʻi, 1778–1968 (Univ. Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1968).

  43. 43.

    Stannard, D. E. Before the Horror: The Population of Hawaiʻi on the Eve of Western Contact (Univ. Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1989).

  44. 44.

    Swanson, D. A. The Number of Native Hawaiians and Part-Hawaiians in Hawaiʻi, 1778 to 1900: Demographic Estimates by Age, with Discussion (Canadian Population Society, Calgary, 2016).

  45. 45.

    State and county quickfacts: Hawaiʻi. US Census Bureau https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/hi(2013).

  46. 46.

    DBEBT The State of Hawaiʻi Data Book: A Statistical Abstract (State of Hawaiʻi, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, Statistics and Data Support Branch, Honolulu, 2015).

  47. 47.

    Plantinga, A., Lubowski, R. & Stavins, R. The effects of potential land development on agricultural land prices. J. Urban Econ. 52, 561–581 (2002).

  48. 48.

    Poorter, H. & Navas, M. L. Plant growth and competition at elevated CO2: on winners, losers and functional groups. New Phytol. 157, 175–198 (2003).

  49. 49.

    Kagawa-Viviani, A. K., Lincoln, N. K., Quintus, S., Lucas, M. P. & Giambelluca, T. W. Spatial patterns of seasonal crop production suggest coordination within and across dryland agricultural systems of Hawai’i Island. Ecol. Soc. 23, 20 (2018).

  50. 50.

    Kharas, H. & Gertz, G. in China’s Emerging Middle Class: Beyond Economic Transformation (ed. Li, C.) 32–54 (Brookings Institution Press, Washington DC, 2010).

  51. 51.

    Ticktin, T. et al. Significant linkages between measures of biodiversity and community resilience in Pacific Island agroforests. Conserv. Biol. 32, 1085–1095 (2018).

  52. 52.

    Rudolph, K. R. & McLachlan, S. M. Seeking indigenous food sovereignty: origins of and responses to the food crisis in northern Manitoba, Canada. Local Environ. 18, 1079–1098 (2013).

  53. 53.

    Athens, J. S., Reith, T. M. & Dye, T. S. A paleoenvironmental and archaeological model-based age estimate for the colonization of Hawai’i. Am. Antiq. 79, 144–155 (2014).

  54. 54.

    Kirch, P. V. When did the Polynesians settle Hawai’i? A review of 150 years of scholarly inquiry and a tentative answer. Hawaiian Archaeol. 4, 3–26 (2011).

  55. 55.

    Wilmshurst, J. M., Hunt, T. L., Lipo, C. P. & Anderson, A. J. High-precision radiocarbon dating shows recent and rapid initial human colonization of East Polynesia. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 108, 1815–1820 (2011).

  56. 56.

    Gon, S. M. III et al. ʻĀina Momona, Honua Au Loli—productive lands, changing world: using the Hawaiian footprint to inform biocultural restoration and future sustainability in Hawai’i. Sustainability 10, 3420 (2018).

  57. 57.

    Giambelluca, T. W. et al. Online rainfall atlas of Hawai’i. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 94, 313–316 (2013).

  58. 58.

    Giambelluca, T. et al. Evapotranspiration of Hawai’i Final report submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—Honolulu District, and the Commission on Water Resource Management, State of Hawai’i (State of Hawai’i, 2014).

  59. 59.

    R Development Core Team R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing (R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, 2011).

  60. 60.

    Kirch, P. V. Valley agricultural systems in prehistoric Hawaiʻi: an archaeological consideration. Asian Perspect. 20, 246–280 (1977).

  61. 61.

    Menzies, A. & Wilson, W. F. Hawaiʻi Nei 128 Years Ago (Publisher not identified, Honolulu, 1920).

  62. 62.

    Evans, D. O. (ed) Taro, Mauka to Makai: A Taro Production and Business Guide for Hawaiʻi Growers (CTAHR, Univ. Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, 2008).

  63. 63.

    Cline, M. G. Soil Survey of the Territory of Hawaii​ ( Soil Survey Series 1939 No. 25) (US Department of Agriculture, Government Printer, Washington DC, 1955).

  64. 64.

    Foote, D. E., Hill, E. L., Nakamura, S. & Stephens, F. Soil Survey of the Islands of Kauai, Oʻahu, Maui, Molokai, and Lanai, State of Hawaiʻi (United States Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service and University of Hawaii Agricultural Experiment Station, Honolulu, 1972).

  65. 65.

    Earle, T. Prehistoric irrigation in the Hawaiian Islands: an evaluation of evolutionary significance. Archaeol. Phys. Anthropol. Ocean. 15, 1–28 (1980).

  66. 66.

    McElroy, W. The Development of Irrigated Agriculture in Wailau. PhD thesis, University of Hawaii, Manoa (2007).

  67. 67.

    Giambelluca, T. W. & Schroeder, T. A. in Atlas of Hawaiʻi (eds Juvik, S. P. & Juvik, J. O.) 49–59 (Univ. Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1998).

  68. 68.

    Onwueme, P. I. Taro Cultivation in Asia and in the Pacific (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, 1999).

  69. 69.

    Vitousek, P. M. et al. Soils, agriculture, and society in precontact Hawai’i. Science 304, 1665–1669 (2004).

  70. 70.

    Ngeve, J. M., Hahn, S. K. & Bouwkamp, J. C. Effects of altitude and environments on sweet potato yield in Cameroon. Trop. Agric. 69, 43–48 (1992).

  71. 71.

    Yen, D. E. The Sweet Potato and Oceania. An Essay in Ethnobotany. Bulletin 236 (Bishop Museum, Honolulu, 1974).

  72. 72.

    Chadwick, O. A. et al. The impact of climate on the biogeochemical functioning of volcanic soils. Chem. Geol. 202, 195–223 (2003).

  73. 73.

    Chadwick, O. A., Derry, L. A., Vitousek, P. M., Huebert, B. J. & Hedin, L. O. Changing sources of nutrients during four million years of ecosystem development. Nature 397, 491–497 (1999).

  74. 74.

    Sherrod, D. R., Sinton, J. M., Watkins, S. E. & Brunt, K. M. Geologic Map of the State of Hawaiʻi Open File Report 2007-1089 (US Geological Survey, 2007).

  75. 75.

    Vitousek, P. M., Chadwick, O. A., Hotchkiss, S. C., Ladefoged, T. N. & Stevenson, C. M. Farming the rock: a biogeochemical perspective on intensive agriculture in Polynesia. J. Pac. Archaeol. 5, 51–61 (2014).

  76. 76.

    Vitousek, P. M. & Chadwick, O. A. Pedogenic thresholds and soil process domains in basalt-derived soils. Ecosystems 16, 1379–1395 (2013).

  77. 77.

    Giambelluca, T. W., Nullet, M. A. & Schroder, T. A. 1986 Rainfall Atlas of Hawai’i (Division of Water and Land Development, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Honolulu, 1986).

  78. 78.

    Woolfe, J. A. Sweet Potato: An Untapped Food Resource (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1992).

  79. 79.

    Kirch, P. V. The Wet and the Dry: Irrigation and Agricultural Intensification in Polynesia (Univ. Chicago Press, Chicago, 1994).

  80. 80.

    Massal, E. & Barrau, J. Food Plants of the South Sea Islands South Pacific Commission Technical Paper No. 94 (South Pacific Commission, Noumea, 1956).

  81. 81.

    Spriggs, M. in Edible Aroids (ed. Chandra, D.) 123–135 (Clarendon, Oxford, 1984).

  82. 82.

    Spriggs, M. Vegetable Kingdoms: Taro Irrigation and Pacific Prehistory. PhD dissertation, Australian National Univ. (1981).

  83. 83.

    Murai, M., Pen, F. & Miller, C. Some Tropical South Pacific Island Foods. Description, History, Use, Composition, and Nutritive Value (Univ. Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1958).

  84. 84.

    Hamilton, B. K. & Kahn, J. G. in Growth and Collapse of Pacific Island Societies (eds Kirch, P. V. & Rallu, J. L.) Ch. 8, 129–159 (Univ. Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 2007).

  85. 85.

    Nakicenovic, N. & Swart, R. IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 2000).

  86. 86.

    Zhang, C., Wang, Y., Lauer, A. & Hamilton, K. Configuration and evaluation of the WRF model for the study of Hawaiian regional climate. Mon. Weather Rev. 140, 3259–3277 (2012).

  87. 87.

    Elison Timm, O., Giambelluca, T. W. & Diaz, H. F. Statistical downscaling of rainfall changes in Hawaiʻi based on the CMIP5 global model projections. J. Geophys. Res. 120, 92–112 (2015).

  88. 88.

    Ramirez, P. in Roots, Tubers, Plantains and Bananas in Animal Feeding (eds Machin, D. & Nyvold, S.) 203–215 (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1992).

  89. 89.

    Poole, G. C. & Berman, C. H. An ecological perspective on in-stream temperature: natural heat dynamics and mechanisms of human-caused thermal degradation. Environ. Manage. 27, 787–802 (2001).

  90. 90.

    Oki, D. S. Surface Water in Hawaii US Geological Survey Fact Sheet 045-03 (USGS, 2003).

Download references

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the Ford Foundation Fellowships Program, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Kohala Center, Kamehameha Schools, and the USGS Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US Government.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Natural and Cultural Resources, Kamehameha Schools, Kailua-Kona, HI, USA

    • Natalie Kurashima
  2. Botany Department, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI, USA

    • Natalie Kurashima
    •  & Tamara Ticktin
  3. US Geological Survey, Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center, Honolulu, HI, USA

    • Lucas Fortini

Authors

  1. Search for Natalie Kurashima in:

  2. Search for Lucas Fortini in:

  3. Search for Tamara Ticktin in:

Contributions

N.K. conceptualized the study, N.K., T.T. and L.F. designed the study, N.K. performed all of the analyses and L.F. assisted in editing R code analyses. N.K. formulated results and discussion. N.K. prepared the draft manuscript, N.K., T.T. and L.K. reviewed and edited the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Natalie Kurashima.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Notes, Supplementary References 1–23, Supplementary Tables 1–4, Supplementary Figures 1–3

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

Issue Date

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-019-0226-1