tnc logo
Hawaiian High Islands Ecoregion
This page last revised 26 August 2006 -- S.M.Gon III

Conservation Targets
TNC Action Sites


Maps & Figures
CPT Database
Coprosma montana fruit
Coprosma montana (pilo) grows in dry montane and subalpine habitats.

sclerophyllous shrub natural community
Small, tough drought-resistant leaf forms dominate in Hawaiian subalpine systems

Subalpine System

Natural communities between 2000 m (6000 ft) and 3000 m(9000 ft) elevation comprise the Subalpine System in the Hawaiian HighIslands Ecoregion. The Subalpine System is restricted to two islands:Hawai‘i and Maui, and occupies the near-summit regions ofthe highest mountains on those islands (Haleakalā on Maui; Mauna Keaand Mauna Loa on Hawai‘i) immediate below the alpine system, and immediately above montane dry and montane mesic systems.

There are several natural communities described within thesubalpine system; including forest, shrublands, and grasslands. Rawbiological diversity is not high in this system, but specializedplants and invertebrates occur there, as well as bird species adaptedto foraging and nesting in subalpine habitats. These include oneof the honeycreepers, the Palila (Loxioides baileui), Māmane-Naio (Sophora chrysophylla - Myoporum sandwicense) Subalpine Dry Forest, and Deschampsia nubigena Subalpine Dry Grassland. 

Wekiu bug
The Palila is a Hawaiian honeycreeper that requires intact
māmane-naio subalpine dyr forest. Photo: Jack Jeffrey.

Deschampsia grassland
Deschampsia grassland in the central district of Haleakalā, Maui.
Photo: Forest
and Kim Starr. 

Subalpine natural communities are listed among nested targets via the appendices.


TheSubalpine System in Hawai‘i lies largely above the clouds andis dominated by mesic to dry shrublands, grasslands, and a few forest types. Subalpine slopes of Haleakalā, Maui. Photo: Forest & Kim Starr.

Subalpine System, Hawaii Island
TheSubalpine System on Hawai‘i Island (red area)occurs in four conservation areas (Mauna Kea, Ka‘ū-Kapāpala, Kona,
and Pōhakuloa-Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a) from 6000-9000 feet elevation.

Subalpine System Island of Maui
TheSubalpine System on Maui (red area) occurs only in theEast Maui conservation area, from 6000-9000 feet elevation.

lehua blossom