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Explore plantCam

A direct real-time connection with Hawaii’s unique and endangered wao akua.

It all started with two questions...

How can we learn to better manage rare plant species?

How do we connect the diverse communities of Hawai’i with the wao akua where rare native plants reside?

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Discussions among scientists, resource managers, and conservation experts eventually led to the idea of bringing a Hawaiian forest online to showcase a magnificent rare species in its natural environment in real time.

With this objective, we have developed an unobtrusive, autonomous, and high precision sensor array (‘plantCam’) to monitor extremely rare native plants in Hawaiʻi. PlantCam collects webcam images and information on the plant’s health, bird visits, and local conditions (rainfall, temperature, etc) in real time, likely making our monitored plants the most well-monitored wild plants in the world. We monitor plant growth using high-precision digital dendrometers. When coupled with wireless data loggers, plantCam makes real-time data available to managers and the wider public.

We expect this plantCam approach to result in detailed demographic, phenological, environmental information that will help managers understand how rare species are affected by changing growing conditions–all while helping the general public learn more about the science and management of Hawaiian rare plant conservation.

PlantCam has two major purposes.

Provide a methodology to help managers better understand the status of the individual/species and relation to climate and wider environmental variability

Create a web portal that is essentially a plant version of ‘critter cams’ that allows people to directly connect with rare native plants.

PlantCam is a collaboration among several research and management partners.


Lucas Fortini USGS-Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center

Lucas focuses on how the responses of populations and communities to natural and human-made disturbances determine ecological resilience and shape opportunities for conservation and management. Lucas uses modeling methods to make conservation and management efforts more science-based. His research interests are focused on Pacific Island ecosystems, but he also has significant research experience in tropical forest ecology and management.


Ryan Mudd  University of Hawai‘i

Ryan is a geography instructor at Kapiʻolani Community College. He is interested in the relationship between plants and their environment at multiple scales in space and time, and their response to climate variation and climate change.

Susan Ching Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife

Susan works on the conservation of rare plant species in the Hawaiian Flora as the Oʻahu District Botanist for DLNR DOFAW.

Lauren Weisenberger Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office

Lauren is the Plant Recovery Coordinator at the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office. She tries to support and assist managers in their plant recovery efforts in Hawaiʻi and other Pacific islands.

PlantCam was made possible with support from...

The Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative

The US Fish and Wildlife Service

The Phenocam Network and related National Science Foundation support

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