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Predicting Prehistoric Taro (Colocasia esculenta var. antiquorum) Loi Distribution in Hawaii 1 JOCELYN G. MÜLLER * ,2 ,YELENA OGNEVA-HIMMELBERGER 3 ,STEPHEN LLOYD 2 , AND J. MICHAEL REED 2 2 Biology Department, Tufts University, 163 Packard Ave., Medford, MA 02155-5818, USA 3 IDCE Department, Clark University, 950 Main St., Worcester, MA 01610, USA *Corresponding author; e-mail: [email protected] Predicting Prehistoric Taro (Colocasia esculenta var. antiquorum) Loi Distribution in Hawaii. The articial wetlands created through taro (Colocasia esculenta var. antiquorum) cultivation have played an important but controversial role in discourse on Hawaiian culture, history, and natural resource management. The extent of taro cultivation has risen and fallen dramatically with changes in population, trends, and culture since Hawaii was rst settled by humans. However, since peak taro cultivation occurred before most historical records, it is unknown how much articial wetland was created in prehistoric times. Past estimates of the extent of taro cultivation have been based on prehistoric population estimates, which are in themselves highly contested. Here we present a simple model based on geographic and climate limita- tions to predict the maximum amount and distribution of land that could have been dedi- cated to taro production on the main Hawaiian Islands. Using geographic information systems technology, and historical records of taro distribution, we created a map of potential prehistorical taro sites and total land cover. Our model predicts that prehistoric taro could have covered up to 12 times more land than suggested by past estimates. Limitations to this model include the use of current geographic characteristics to predict historical land use patterns and difculties in creating parameters general enough to capture all sites without overestimating taro cultivation. Despite these limitations, this model does well encompass- ing known prehistoric and historical taro localities and should serve as a basis for revising estimated taro coverage. Key Words: GIS modeling, Wetland, Polynesian agriculture, Pacic Islands. Introduction Wetlands are focal points of many conservation programs throughout the United States because of their key role in conserving biodiversity and sensitivity to urban growth (Dahl 1990). In Hawaii, the wetland conservation discourse is further complicated by limited fresh water resour- ces, the growing water demands of both year- round and seasonal island inhabitants, and the important historical and cultural role played by agricultural wetlands, specically taro (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott. var. antiquorum) loi (ooded eld) agriculture (Stone and Stone 1989; Walker and Hawaiian Waterbirds Recovery 1977:93; Ziegler 2002). While taro is a common crop throughout Polynesia, in Hawaii it plays a central cultural role (Begley 1979:29; Greenwell 1947; Handy et al. 1972; Kirch 1985; Krauss 1993:5; Malo 1951:320; Onwueme 1999). Presumably the rst Polynesian settlers in Hawaii carried the same variety of crops found throughout Polynesian cultures today. But in Hawaii, they were faced with very limited agricultural conditions, which quickly made taro the most important crop (Begley 1979; Greenwell 1947; Wang 1983). Because of the age and volcanic origin of the islands, half of all the land cover was too high and steep to be cultivated, and much of the rest of the 1 Received 24 June 2009; accepted 2 February 2010; published online 5 March 2010. Economic Botany, 64(1), 2010, pp. 2233. © 2010, by The New York Botanical Garden Press, Bronx, NY 10458-5126 U.S.A.

Predicting Prehistoric Taro (Colocasia esculenta var ......Predicting Prehistoric Taro (Colocasia esculenta var. antiquorum)Lo’i Distribution in Hawaii1 JOCELYN G. MÜLLER*,2,YELENA

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  • Predicting Prehistoric Taro (Colocasia esculentavar. antiquorum) Lo’i Distribution in Hawaii1

    JOCELYN G. MÜLLER*,2, YELENA OGNEVA-HIMMELBERGER3, STEPHEN LLOYD2,AND J. MICHAEL REED2

    2Biology Department, Tufts University, 163 Packard Ave., Medford, MA 02155-5818, USA3IDCE Department, Clark University, 950 Main St., Worcester, MA 01610, USA*Corresponding author; e-mail: [email protected]

    Predicting Prehistoric Taro (Colocasia esculenta var. antiquorum) Lo’i Distribution in Hawaii.The artificial wetlands created through taro (Colocasia esculenta var. antiquorum) cultivationhave played an important but controversial role in discourse on Hawaiian culture, history, andnatural resource management. The extent of taro cultivation has risen and fallen dramaticallywith changes in population, trends, and culture since Hawaii was first settled by humans.However, since peak taro cultivation occurred before most historical records, it is unknownhow much artificial wetland was created in prehistoric times. Past estimates of the extent oftaro cultivation have been based on prehistoric population estimates, which are in themselveshighly contested. Here we present a simple model based on geographic and climate limita-tions to predict the maximum amount and distribution of land that could have been dedi-cated to taro production on the main Hawaiian Islands. Using geographic informationsystems technology, and historical records of taro distribution, we created a map of potentialprehistorical taro sites and total land cover. Our model predicts that prehistoric taro couldhave covered up to 12 times more land than suggested by past estimates. Limitations tothis model include the use of current geographic characteristics to predict historical land usepatterns and difficulties in creating parameters general enough to capture all sites withoutoverestimating taro cultivation. Despite these limitations, this model does well encompass-ing known prehistoric and historical taro localities and should serve as a basis for revisingestimated taro coverage.

    Key Words: GIS modeling, Wetland, Polynesian agriculture, Pacific Islands.

    IntroductionWetlands are focal points of many conservation

    programs throughout the United States becauseof their key role in conserving biodiversity andsensitivity to urban growth (Dahl 1990). InHawaii, the wetland conservation discourse isfurther complicated by limited fresh water resour-ces, the growing water demands of both year-round and seasonal island inhabitants, and theimportant historical and cultural role played byagricultural wetlands, specifically taro (Colocasiaesculenta (L.) Schott. var. antiquorum) lo’i

    (flooded field) agriculture (Stone and Stone1989; Walker and Hawaiian Waterbirds Recovery1977:93; Ziegler 2002).While taro is a common crop throughout

    Polynesia, in Hawaii it plays a central culturalrole (Begley 1979:29; Greenwell 1947; Handy etal. 1972; Kirch 1985; Krauss 1993:5; Malo1951:320; Onwueme 1999). Presumably the firstPolynesian settlers in Hawaii carried the samevariety of crops found throughout Polynesiancultures today. But in Hawaii, they were facedwith very limited agricultural conditions, whichquickly made taro the most important crop(Begley 1979; Greenwell 1947; Wang 1983).Because of the age and volcanic origin of theislands, half of all the land cover was too high andsteep to be cultivated, and much of the rest of the

    1 Received 24 June 2009; accepted 2 February2010; published online 5 March 2010.

    Economic Botany, 64(1), 2010, pp. 22–33.© 2010, by The New York Botanical Garden Press, Bronx, NY 10458-5126 U.S.A.

  • land lacked the soft soil required for most crops(Jarves 1847:11; Newman 1970). These geo-graphic limitations meant that at the time ofPolynesian colonization, the arable land was almostexclusively associated with alluvial flood plains, thenatural habitat of taro. Thus, by exploiting naturalflood plains to create taro lo’i or irrigated patches,wetland taro agriculture became the central crop ofearly Hawaiians and an essential part of survival(O’Hair et al. 1982; Onwueme 1999). Today, taroimages and products are still sacred to Hawaiianculture (Winter 2006) and often are a componentof traditional celebrations (Begley 1979:29).

    While wetland taro enabled early humanpopulation growth, the wants and needs of thepopulation surpassed the limits of production innatural wetlands, which pushed farmers toexpand floodplains and catchments. As theHawaiian culture became increasingly sociallystratified prior to European contact, there was adramatic expansion and intensification of tarocultivation (Handy et al. 1972; Kirch 2000).Kirch (2000) argues that this socioeconomicstructure both demanded and enabled great featsof hydraulic engineering, which underlie much ofthe wetland expansion. Furthermore, it was adramatic change in the socioeconomic structurethat triggered the decline of taro cultivation. Atthe time of peak taro cultivation, roughly aroundthe year 1650 C.E., the measures taken to createnew taro lands suggest that all optimal land wasunder cultivation (Kirch 2000; Kirch et al. 2004).However, the significant population decline andcultural restructuring that followed Europeancontact contributed to such a decline in taroproduction that by 1852 abandoned taro fieldsbecame sites of rice cultivation instead (Coulter1933:140; Krauss 1993:ix, 345). Since then, taroproduction has continued to decline, with onlyabout 80 ha currently in cultivation statewide(Nakamora 2005).

    Surprisingly, despite many references to theexpansion of wetlands due to wet taro cultivation(Shallenberger 1977; Stone and Stone 1989:252;Walker and Hawaiian Waterbirds Recovery1977), we are unaware of any systematic attemptto estimate or map historical taro distributionsstatewide. There are, however, historical accountsthat describe and sometimes map historical tarolo’i distributions in individual valleys. The onlygeneral estimate we are aware of comes fromWalker et al., who estimated that at peakcultivation “the crop [taro] may have covered

    twenty-five thousand acres [ten thousand ha]”(1977:2). Walker based this rough estimate onthe area that might support the caloric needs ofan estimated population of 300,000 Hawaiiansbefore European contact (R. Walker, pers. com.).These calculations were a guess made simply tofill a void in information and did not factor in thesocial hierarchy that pushed consumption beyondcaloric needs. Furthermore, this calculationhinges on an outdated estimate of pre-EuropeanHawaiian population. Although the estimates ofprehistoric Hawaiian populations have undergonemany revisions (Schmitt 1996; Stannard 1989),this value of taro cover has not been revised, butrather repeated in a number of documents relatedto endangered Hawaiian waterbirds (Griffin et al.1989). Our goal was to provide an alternativeestimate of maximum possible taro lo’i cover anddistribution on the main Hawaiian Islands:Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui, and Hawaii, basedon the geologic and climatic conditions that limittaro. We used Geographic Information Systems(GIS) and a simple model of site suitability toestimate the potential maximum extent of artifi-cial wetland creation during the time of peak tarocultivation.

    MethodsWe used reports of historical taro lo’i distribu-

    tions to determine the climatic and physical limitsto taro cultivation to create a simple model forestimating the maximum possible extent of tarocultivation. Our analyses were based on historicaldocuments, missionaries’ accounts, and agricul-tural reports from as early as 1779, as well as onarchaeological information regarding prehistorictaro cultivation (e.g., Au Okou 1867; Kirch andKelly 1975; Newman 1970; Phelps 1937).Although these documents were all written afterthe presumed peak of taro agriculture, and archaeo-logical accounts are not exhaustive, together thedata were sufficient for model development. Thesedocuments also were used to evaluate the effective-ness of our resulting model. We assumed thatcultivated areas during the peak time for taroagriculture would include, but also go beyond, allhistorically-documented taro sites since taro culti-vation had already started to decline at the time ofthe earliest written accounts (Coulter 1931:33;Kirch and Sahlins 1992:2).

    In order to calculate the historical taro landprior to contact, we created four Boolean mapsfor the four environmental constraints: slope,

    23MULLER ET AL: PREHISTORIC TARO IN HAWAII2010]

  • distance to water source, rainfall, and elevation(Fig. 1). The final map of maximum tarodistribution was generated by overlapping all ofthe maps. This resulting map was then comparedto the historical maps of taro distribution.Described below are these parameters and the

    basic procedure followed to get the final Booleanmap for each category.

    ELEVATIONThere is evidence of lo’i up to heights of 250 m

    (Handy et al. 1972) and 330 m (Kirch et al.

    Fig. 1. The four Boolean maps shown separately for the island of Hawaii. The dark gray areas on the maps arewhere criteria are satisfied; light gray are where they are not. Map A is elevation; B is slope, C is precipitation; D iswater distance.

    24 ECONOMIC BOTANY [VOL 64

  • 2004) in very wet areas. Therefore, we generatedtwo separate elevational parameters (1–200 m and200–330 m), which had separate rainfall criteria(see below). Sites below 1 meter were excluded inorder to prevent confusion with coastal areas andfish ponds. Elevation data for the islands had apixel resolution of 30 meters, and came from theshuttle radar topography mission (SRTM, atwww.glcf.org). Data were downloaded in one-degree tiles in geographic coordinate system(using WGS84 datum). Tiles were then joinedby geographical coordinates using CONCATmodule in Idrisi Kilimanjaro software and thenreprojected into Universal Transversal Mercator(UTM-4N) coordinate system. Projection intoUTM was required for the subsequent slopecalculations. Finally, two separate Boolean mapswere created using RECLASS operation in IdrisiKilimanjaro GIS—one for elevations between 1–200 m, the other for the 200–330 m elevations.

    SLOPEAlthough terracing for taro lo’i was done, slope

    appears to have been a limiting factor in wet tarocultivation. Based on distributional maps, weselected slopes of 2–35% to be acceptable fortaro. We chose the low end of this range becausewater needed to be flowing, and the upper endrecognizing the common practice of terracing(Handy et al. 1972). The values were based onquerying regions that were known to have taro andthose that were known to be excluded due to steepvalley sides. Using the final Digital ElevationModels for each island, we calculated slope inpercents since the reference units of UTMprojections are in meters and so are the value unitsfor elevation. From there we created a Booleanimage by assigning slopes between 2–35% a valueof 1 and all other slope values a value of 0.

    DISTANCE TO WATER SOURCEWetland taro depends on adequate and pre-

    dictable running freshwater sources (streams,rivers, springs) that can be diverted for constantirrigation (Newman 1970). We set a distance of1 km from a perennial freshwater source as thelimit for water diversion, based on the width ofknown taro valleys. These widths were deter-mined by querying a distance to streams mapmade in Idrisi Kilimanjaro using the USGSDigital Line Graphs data (DLG, downloadedfrom www.usgs.gov). While this might appear

    generous, it seemed appropriate because ancientHawaiians were able to divert water for greatdistances (Handy et al. 1972). Thus the modelmimics the upper limits of historical engineeringand is based on the assumption that slope andrainfall would restrict the result to a true projection.

    After downloading the streams data (www.usgs.gov), we selected only streams listed as perennialbecause we concluded that streams not flowingyear-round would not be suitable for year-roundtaro agriculture. The one exception was on theisland Molokai. For this island, if only perennialstreams were used, the results did not matchother modern maps, which included streamsystems or other USGS data that we had of theisland, such as land-cover map from the NationalLand Cover Data (NLCD) set (http://landcover.usgs.gov/prodescription.php). We interpreted thisas indicating that the streams data were misclassi-fied and repeated the analysis on this islandincluding intermittent streams, which correctedmuch of the mismatch. Then we converted thevector line file of streams into a raster file. Usingthe BUFFER operation, we created a Booleanimage by assigning the area within 1,000 m ofperennial streams (perennial and intermittent oncase of Molokai) a value of one. The streamsthemselves obtain a value of zero, as does the areaoutside the threshold distance.

    RAINFALLThe amount of rainfall required for taro

    cultivation was the most difficult to simplifybecause it depended on the age of the islandand soil permeability (Newman 1972). Specifi-cally, on younger islands, such as the island ofHawaii, soil is more permeable and hence lesssuitable for lo’i. Only heavily-exposed areas wouldhave weathered sufficiently to have some waterretention, so the threshold between sufficient andinsufficient rainfall on a younger island wouldtherefore have to be significantly higher for sitesto remain inundated (Newman 1972:559–600).On older islands, however, there is greatererosion, even in regions with less exposure torainfall. There would be soil differences within anisland, with points of higher elevation having lesscumulative water, being less weathered, andrequiring a higher rainfall threshold. By queryingour rainfall images for the valleys that we knewsupported taro historically, we arrived at a lowerthreshold of 650 mm rain on all islands except

    25MULLER ET AL: PREHISTORIC TARO IN HAWAII2010]

    http://www.glcf.orghttp://www.usgs.govhttp://www.usgs.govhttp://www.usgs.govhttp://landcover.usgs.gov/prodescription.phphttp://landcover.usgs.gov/prodescription.php

  • the island of Hawaii. For these same islands, sitesabove 200 m were considered suitable if theyreceived 800 mm or more of annual rainfall. Forthe Hawaii Island, the cut-off island-wide was1,200 mm annual rainfall, and this was used forall elevations. We assumed there would be noupper limit to the amount of rainfall above whichtaro could not be grown.After downloading from the State of Hawaii

    governmental website contours showing rainfallin millimeters per year, the line data wererasterized and interpolated using the topo toraster tool in ArcMap to create a continuoussurface. When doing this, we made sure to matchthe extent and resolution of the output surfacewith those of the particular island’s elevationimage in Idrisi. Then the image was reclassified sothat only the area that was above the thresholdlevel of rainfall for the particular island was givena value of one, and everything else a value of zero.Our final step in creating a map of possible

    maximum historical distribution was to combinethe four Boolean images using the OVERLAY(multiply) operation in GIS to find the areaswhere all four constraints were satisfied. We thenconducted a sensitivity analysis to ensure that allfour criteria were in fact contributing to themodel and to uncover any correlations betweenthe criteria. This process was repeated for all fiveislands.

    ResultsThe sensitivity analysis revealed that all four of

    the criteria were necessary for the model (Table 1).None of the criteria were correlated with oneanother across the five islands, nor did any onecriterion seem to represent the majority of thefinal model. Our model predicted the maximum

    possible taro lo’i coverage to be 121,100.5 ha forthe combined total for all islands, with Kauai andOahu contributing the most to the total coverage(Fig. 2). From 240 documented taro-producingvalleys, the area represented by our projectedmaps (Fig. 3) fully included 165 of them, whichis a 69% success rate, with another 24 valleyspartially included, giving a total of 79% overlap(Table 2).

    DiscussionThe only published estimate of taro coverage of

    which we are aware was by Walker et al. (1977),who suggested that there might have been

    TABLE 1. A TABLE OF THE SENSITIVITY OF THE MODEL TO EACH OF THE FOUR COMPONENTS: ELEVATION, SLOPE,RAINFALL, AND DISTANCE FROM WATER SOURCE. FOR EACH OF THE FOUR CRITERIA, THERE IS THE TOTAL LAND AREA(IN SQUARE KM) THAT MEETS THOSE CRITERIA ON EACH OF THE ISLANDS AND THE PERCENTAGE OF THAT AREA

    INCLUDED IN THE FINAL MODEL.

    Hawaii Island Kauai Maui Molokai Oahu

    Area, sq.km % Area, sq.km % Area, sq.km % Area, sq.km % Area, sq.km %

    Elevation 2,111 12 858 53 932 15 439 4 1,152 29Slope 10,113 3 931 49 1,550 9 482 4 1,076 31Rainfall 6,422 4 1,286 36 1,387 10 324 6 1,323 25Water-distance

    1,371 19 1,090 42 516 28 154 12 715 47

    Final map 262 458 142 18 335

    Predicted Maximum WetlandTaro Cultivation by Island

    Kauai Oahu Hawaii Maui Molokai0

    10000

    20000

    30000

    40000

    50000

    Island

    Pre

    dic

    ted

    Are

    a (H

    a)

    Fig. 2. Predicted maximum coverage for total pre-historic taro lo’i by island, within the restraints ofless than 330 m above sea level, rainfall 650 mm/yr(800 mm for higher elevations, 1,200 mm for theHawaii Island), 35% slope, and less than 1 km froma perennial water source. The calculations were madeusing Boolean analysis in Idrisi Kilimanjaro program.Our model predicted that wetland taro could havecovered 121,100.5 ha on the five main Hawaiianislands at the time of peak cultivation.

    26 ECONOMIC BOTANY [VOL 64

  • 10,000 ha of taro lo’i at its peak in Hawaii.Without producing maps that greatly contradictknown taro localities, our model predicts apossible maximum coverage over twelve timesWalker et al.’s estimate (Fig. 1). Although thisestimate is dramatically different, we wouldexpect the previous estimate to be low because it

    started with a low estimate of pre-EuropeanHawaiian population size and was not revised tomatch updated estimates of those populations(Stannard 1989). Furthermore, the calculation ofWalker et al. (1977) did not account for thesociocultural factors involved in taro production(e.g., taxation, ritualistic use, and patronage)

    Hawai’i

    Maui

    A: Oahu

    B:

    C: Molokai

    D:

    E:

    Kaua’i

    Fig. 3. Map of GIS model results for the five largest islands of Hawaii: A) Oahu, B) Maui, C) Molokai, D)Kaua’i, and E) Hawaii. Documented taro-producing areas are numbered by island and can be referenced inTable 2.

    27MULLER ET AL: PREHISTORIC TARO IN HAWAII2010]

  • (Kirch et al. 2004; Malo 1951:207), and theywere never intended as a serious estimate ofstatewide taro coverage (R. Walker, pers. comm.).We do not presume that our estimate is an

    accurate reflection of how much taro was actuallygrown in Hawaii. Rather, we intend it to be anestimate of the maximum possible coverage, and toact as a starting point for further refinement. Ourresults indicate that this simple model does a fairlygood job of describing the known patterns of histor-ical taro-producing valleys. For example, historicalaccounts describe the two largest taro-producingislands as Kauai and Oahu (Begley 1979:29; Handyet al. 1972:488; Kirch 2000:5). Our model alsopredicts that these islands have the greatestpotential cover of lo’i. We must be cautious inthe interpretation of these data. Inherent errors inthe GIS predictions are expected because we areusing modern geographical data to predict historicalpatterns. However, despite the inherent problemsusing modern data to predict the past, the modelstill does well in predicting most of the historicalvalleys and well-known patterns.Inspection of our proposed maps suggests that

    our model might be a conservative estimate ofpossible historical taro lo’i coverage. Whencompared to historical records, there are isolatedvalleys, as well as larger regions, not representedby our model. There seem to be two factors thatcontribute to these mismatches: rainfall andstreams. Taro, as an irrigated crop, is not strictlydependent on rainfall but on a supply of freshrunning water. However, freshwater is the mostdifficult parameter to determine, as it is depend-ent on soil type, rainfall, and island age. OnKauai, for example, modeled potential tarogrowth along the coastal portion of the Pakalavalley is restricted due to rainfall criteria, whereasthe upper elevations were included. Logically, ifthe upper elevations were receiving enough rain,then water would contribute to fields below andallow for taro cultivation.So, although the rainfall parameters used for

    the model allowed us to recreate broad patterns,the model might be improved by using moredetailed soil and run-off data in place of the broadrainfall constraints. This would also allow fordownward slope accumulation to replace a basicdistance from water source as the measure forhydraulic engineering possibilities. The secondfactor that seems to contribute to certain valleysnot being represented in our model, even thoughthere is known historical taro production, was the

    presence or absence of perennial streams. Againthe choice of perennial streams was made toensure that this would represent permanent taroaquaculture; however, it must be recognized thatwe were using modern information to classifyperennial streams. It is well documented that thelocation and water-flow of many streams has beenaltered with increasing development of theislands. Many regions have been drained, theirstreams diverted and springs capped (Handy et al.1972; Smith et al. 1990). This means that valleysthat were once taro-producing may no longerseem suitable according to modern stream data.An example of this on the island of Kauai is theMana region (Fig. 3D, #44). This region used tobe a taro-producing area, but it was drained forsugar production in the last century and now hasvery few water sources that are accounted for ingeographical surveys of natural landscape features.In a few regions, however, the modern changes ofwaterways are not enough to explain the mis-match between the model and documentedhistorical sites. For example, on Molakai, theUSGS streams data listed no perennial streams onthe western 80% of the island (Fig. 3C). How-ever, modern vegetation maps indicate that theentire western half of the island is considered wetor moist, and even most road maps will docu-ment rivers such as Pelekulu (Fig. 3C, #4) asperennial (e.g., DeLorme 1999). On Molokai,since the unmatched region was so large, themismatch was corrected for by including inter-mittent streams in the analysis. However, thislack of accurate waterway data is still an issue in afew other regions.So while in some regions our maps appear to

    be conservative estimates of prehistoric tarocoverage, this coverage should not be interpretedas representing total usable agricultural wetland.To know the true extent of artificial wetland, wewould also have to account for other factors suchas the amount of our predicted taro habitat thatwas actually human settlements and infrastruc-ture, fallow land, etc. For example, in the easternregion of Kauai (Fig. 3D, #26–35), this vastexpanse of continuous fields, while reasonablebased on the geographic nature of the land, wouldbe difficult to manage if it were not interruptedby settlements to house the taro farmers. Even insmaller regions such as the northern region ofHawaii, the wide valleys (Fig. 4) would most likelyhave been subdivided into fallow and active fields,paths, housing support, possibly even fish ponds.

    28 ECONOMIC BOTANY [VOL 64

  • TABLE2.

    ALIST

    OFALL

    DOCUMENTED

    TARO-PRODUCIN

    GVALL

    EYSBYISLA

    ND.F

    OR

    EACH

    AREA

    WE

    LIST

    THENAME,K

    EY(R

    EFE

    RENCETOFI

    G.3

    ),AND

    SCORE(Q

    UALITATIVE

    MATCH

    BETWEEN

    MODEL

    AND

    REFE

    RENCE).BASE

    DON

    THE

    QUALITATIVE

    DESC

    RIPTIO

    NOF

    TARO

    LANDSAND

    THE

    GRAPH

    ICAL

    MODEL

    RESU

    LTS,

    WE

    ASSIG

    NED

    APO

    SITIVE

    MATCH(+)TO

    AREASWHERETHEMODELPR

    EDIC

    TSWETLA

    ND

    TARO

    INTHESA

    MELO

    CATIO

    N,S

    IZE,A

    ND

    SCOPE

    ASDESC

    RIBED

    INHISTORIC

    ALDOCUMENTS.AN

    INTERMEDIATE

    SCORE(0)MATCHESONLY

    INLO

    CATIO

    NBUT

    NOT

    SIZE

    OR

    SCOPE,W

    HEREASA

    NEGATIVE

    SCORE(−)IN

    DIC

    ATESTHE

    MODEL

    AND

    LITERATURE

    DO

    NOT

    MATCH(A

    UO

    KOU

    1867

    ;KIRCH

    ANDKELL

    Y1975;N

    EWMAN1970

    ;PH

    ELP

    S1937).

    Locatio

    nScore

    Key

    Locatio

    nScore

    Key

    Locatio

    nScore

    Key

    Locatio

    nScore

    Key

    Manaw

    ainu

    igulch

    –C1

    Miloli’i

    0D1

    Kahaha

    0B9

    Waialua

    +A9

    Waihanau

    –C2

    Nu’ulolo

    +D2

    Honokahua

    +B10

    Helem

    anoStr.

    +A10

    Waikolu

    –C3

    Awa’aw

    apuh

    i+

    D3

    Honolua

    0B11

    Kaw

    ailoa

    +A11

    Pelekunu

    –C4

    Honopu

    +D4

    Honokohau

    +B12

    Waimea

    +A12

    Wailau

    –C5

    Kalalau

    Valley

    +D5

    Anakaluahini

    –B13

    Waiale’e

    –A13

    Kahaw

    ai’iki

    –C6

    Hanakoa

    +D6

    Poelua

    –B14

    Kaw

    ela

    +A14

    Halaw

    a+

    C7

    Waiahuakua

    +D7

    Honanana

    –B15

    Kahuku

    +A15

    Kam

    anoni

    0C8

    Hanakapi'ai

    +D8

    Waihali

    +B16

    Malaekahana

    +A16

    Pohakupu

    li+

    C9

    Limahuli

    +D9

    Kahakuloa

    +B17

    Keana

    –A17

    Honouliw

    ai0

    C10

    Ha’ena

    +D10

    Wailena

    +B18

    La’ie

    +A18

    Moanu

    i+

    C11

    Manoa

    +D10

    Waiolai

    +B19

    Kaloa

    +A19

    Waialua

    +C12

    Wainiha

    +D11

    Makam

    akaole

    0B20

    Hau’ula

    +A20

    Poniuahu

    a+

    C13

    Lumahai

    +D12

    Waihe’e

    +B21

    Kaluanu

    i+

    A21

    Puelelu

    +C14

    Wai’oli

    +D13

    Waiehu

    +B22

    Kaliuwa’a

    +A21

    Kaw

    aikapu

    +C15

    Hanalei

    +D14

    Wailuku

    +B23

    Punalu’u

    +A23

    Honom

    uni

    +C16

    Kalihi-k

    ai+

    D15

    Ioa

    +B23

    Kahana

    +A24

    Puko’o

    +C17

    Kalihi-w

    ai+

    D16

    Waikapu

    0B24

    Kaw

    a+

    A24

    Mapulehu

    –C18

    Kilauea

    +D17

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    e0

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    +A24

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    +C19

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    lu+

    A24

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    ola

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    aloeastward

    +C24

    Maloa’aStream

    D22

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    +C25

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    Keahu

    espring

    +A28

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    –E1

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    +B34

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    aihae

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    Akamoa

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    Kealia

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    oa+

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    Ka’alaea

    +A31

    29MULLER ET AL: PREHISTORIC TARO IN HAWAII2010]

  • Wainaea

    +E4

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    ena

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    North

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    anoStr.

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    Mokule’ia

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    Waimalu

    +A63

    30 ECONOMIC BOTANY [VOL 64

  • Based on archaeological sites (Kirch 1985; Kirchand Kelly 1975), a rough estimate of the amountof land devoted to settlement and infrastructurein taro-producing valleys suggests a 25% reduc-tion in wetland coverage from total suitable land.Furthermore, qualitative descriptions of somevalleys lead us to believe that the actual coverageof taro may be overestimated by our maps. Forexample, Handy et al. (1972:424) describeWaipouli valley as containing an insignificantamount of wetland taro, whereas our modelpredicts this valley to be suitable for taro lo’i.Keeping these limitations in mind, however, thisis a simple model that predicts the patterns ofhistorical taro cultivation fairly well. It providesthe first attempt of which we are aware to plot thepotential extent of taro lo’i production across theHawaiian Islands.

    ConclusionsOur model uses simple geographical and

    climatic features to predict the maximum extantof wetland taro agriculture in prehistoric Hawaii.

    The model estimates total wetland taro coverageat 121,100 ha over the five islands examined.Including estimates of the infrastructure ofhuman populations would reduce this figure by25%, to 90,825 ha. This still increases previousestimates of wetland taro coverage by almostninefold, and this extent supports recent upwardrevisions of estimates of prehistoric populations ofboth humans and wetland flora and fauna. Wehope that this paper will serve as a base for furtherexploration in the use of GIS in predictingprehistoric land use in Hawaii.

    AcknowledgmentsWe thank Nancy Hoffman and Mike Silber-

    nagle (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) for theirassistance in reviewing the draft manuscripts andfor valuable discussion on the current state ofknowledge on Hawaiian bird ecology; RonNakamora (Hawaiian Agriculture Statistics Serv-ice) for sharing the taro and current agriculturestatistics; Arleone Dibben-Young for her help inplacing Molokai references; Kawika Winter

    Fig. 4. Map of the northern windward side of Hawaii Island. Areas predicted to be covered in historical taro aredepicted in gray.

    31MULLER ET AL: PREHISTORIC TARO IN HAWAII2010]

  • (Limahuli Garden and Preserve Kaua’i) for thehelpful review and ground-truthing of earlierdrafts of the model; and Aissatou Noma for helpwith map creation.

    Literature CitedAu Okou. 1867. Manuscript on file at B. P.

    Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii.Begley, B. W. 1979. Taro in Hawaii. Oriental

    Publishing Company, Honolulu.Coulter, J. W. 1931. Population and Utilization of

    Land and Sea in Hawaii, 1853. The Museum.——— 1933. Land Utilization in the Hawaiian

    Islands. Printshop Company, Honolulu.Dahl, T. 1990. Wetlands Losses in the United

    States: 1780’s to 1980’s. U.S. GovernmentPrinting Office, Washington.

    DeLorme. 1999. Hawaii Atlas and Gazetteer.DeLorme Mapping Company, Yarmouth.

    Greenwell, A. B. H. 1947. Taro: With SpecialReference to Its Culture and Uses in Hawaii.Economic Botany 1:276–289.

    Griffin, C. R., R. J. Shallenberger, S. I. Fefer,R. R. Sharitz, and J. W. Gibbons. 1989.Hawaii’s Endangered Waterbirds: A ResourceManagement Challenge. Pages 1165–1175 inAnonymous, ed., DOE Symposium Series No.61. USDOE Office of Scientific and TechnicalInformation, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

    Handy, E. S. C., E. G. Handy, and M. K. Pukui.1972. Native Planters in Old Hawaii: TheirLife, Lore, and Environment. Bishop MuseumPress, Honolulu.

    Jarves, J. J. 1847. History of the Hawaiian Islands:Embracing Their Antiquities, Mythology,Legends, Discovery by Europeans in theSixteenth Century, Re-Discovery by Cook,with Their Civil, Religious and Political His-tory, from the Earliest Traditionary Period tothe Present Time. C. E. Hitchcock, Honolulu.

    Kirch, P. V. 1985. Feathered Gods and Fishhooks:An Introduction to Hawaiian Archaeologyand Prehistory. University of Hawaii Press,Honolulu.

    ——— 2000. On the Road of the Winds: AnArchaeological History of the Pacific Islandsbefore European Contact. University ofCalifornia Press, Berkeley.

    ——— and M. Kelly. 1975. Prehistory andEcology in a Windward Hawaiian Valley:Halawa Valley, Molakai.

    ——— and M. D. Sahlins. 1992. Anahulu:The Anthropology of History in the King-

    dom of Hawaii. University of Chicago Press,Chicago.

    ———, A. S. Hartshorn, O. A. Chadwick, P. M.Vitousek, D. R. Sherrod, J. Coil, L. Holm,and W. D. Sharp. 2004. Environment, Agri-culture, and Settlement Patterns in a MarginalPolynesian Landscape. Proceedings of theNational Academy of Sciences of the UnitedStates of America 101:9936–9941.

    Krauss, B. H. 1993. Plants in Hawaiian Culture.University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.

    Malo, D. 1951. Hawaiian Antiquities (MooleloHawaii). The Museum, Honolulu.

    Nakamora, R. 2005. Hawaiian Agriculture StatisticsService. http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Hawaii/index.asp.

    Newman, T. S. 1970. Hawaiian Fishing andFarming on the Island of Hawaii in A. D.1778. Department of Land and NaturalResources, Honolulu.

    ——— 1972. Man in the Prehistoric HawaiianEcosystem. Pages 559–600 in A. Kay, ed., ANatural History of the Hawaiian Islands:Selected Readings. University of Hawaii,Honolulu.

    O’Hair, S. K., G. H. Snyder, and J. F. Morton.1982. Wetland Taro: A Neglected Crop forFood, Feed, and Fuel. Proceedings of theFlorida State Horticultural Society 95:367–374.

    Onwueme, I. 1999. Taro Cultivation in Asia andthe Pacific. RAP Publication 1999/16.

    Phelps, S. 1937. A Regional Study of Molokai.Unpublished manuscript on file at B. P.Bishop Museum, Honolulu.

    Schmitt, R. C. 1996. How Many Hawaiians Livein Hawai’i? Pacific Studies 19:31–35.

    Shallenberger, R. J. 1977. An OrnithologicalSurvey of Hawaiian Wetlands. AhuimanuProductions, Honolulu.

    Smith, C. W., Hawaii Cooperative Park ServiceUnit. 1990. Hawaii Stream Assessment: APreliminary Appraisal of Hawaii’s StreamResources. State of Hawaii, Department ofLand and Natural Resources, Commission onWater Resource Management, Report R84.

    Stannard, D. E. 1989. Before the Horror—The Population of Hawai’i on the Eve ofWestern Contact. University of Hawaii Press,Honolulu.

    Stone, C. P. and D. B. Stone. 1989. Conserva-tion Biology in Hawai’i. University of HawaiiCooperative National Park Resources StudiesUnit, Honolulu.

    32 ECONOMIC BOTANY [VOL 64

    http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Hawaii/index.asphttp://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Hawaii/index.asp

  • Walker, R. and Hawaiian Waterbirds RecoveryTeam. 1977. Hawaiian Waterbirds RecoveryPlan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endan-gered Species Program, Region 1, Portland,Oregon.

    Wang, J. K. 1983. Taro: A Review of Colocasiaesculenta and Its Potentials. University ofHawaii Press, Honolulu.

    Winter, K. 2006. Ethnobotanical Gardens: Ben-eficial or Detrimental to Indigenous Cultures.Page 103 in Folk Botanical Wisdom: TowardsGlobal Markets: 47th Meeting of the Societyfor Economic Botany.

    Ziegler, A. 2002. Hawaiian Natural History,Ecology, and Evolution. University of HawaiiPress, Honolulu.

    33MULLER ET AL: PREHISTORIC TARO IN HAWAII2010]

    Predicting Prehistoric Taro (Colocasia esculenta var. antiquorum) Lo’i Distribution in HawaiiAbstractIntroductionMethodsElevationSlopeDistance to Water SourceRainfall

    ResultsDiscussionConclusionsLiterature Cited

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