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Introduction: Birth of the Islands
Geological origins
Water cycle
Flora & Fauna

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Flora and Fauna

As the most isolated land mass in the Pacific, Hawai`i acquired plants and animals only as they arrived on wind and sea currents. Relatively few creatures and seeds survived such a long and arduous journey. Once established in the Islands however, many developed into multiple unique species that flourished in a setting with few predators or competitors. Some birds lost the ability to fly and many plants lost protective devices such as thorns. With such great distances of open ocean to cross, no land mammals or reptiles survived to make landfall in Hawai`i. Larger animals weren't introduced until Polynesian settlers arrived. Threatened by these new animals and plants, introduced in even greater numbers since Western contact, some ill-equipped native species quickly succumbed; others survived into the modern era but are struggling today against extinction.

 Sites for further information

Hawaiian Native Plant Genera (University of Hawaii)

"How to Plant a Native Hawaiian Garden: An Online Handbook" (State of Hawaii)

Canoe Plants of Ancient Hawai`i

Rare Hawai`i (plants, animals)

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