National Wildlife Health Center

...advancing wildlife and ecosystem health



How we do our job:

The Honolulu Field Station has a service and a research component. Service includes training biologists to respond to unusual wildlife mortalities, information exchange (like this), and performing laboratory and field investigations to determine the cause of death in wildlife. Research is a more targeted effort to gain a better understanding of the ecology of disease in wildlife. Some of the tools that we commonly use to determine causes of death in wildlife and their dynamics in wildlife population include field observations, pathology, clinical pathology, microbiology, parasitology, clinical pathology, molecular biology, toxinology and toxicology.


We provide routine diagnostic support to state and federal agencies to determine cause of death in endangered and threatened native Hawaiian birds. We are also collaborating with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of Hawaii in surveillance and interdiction efforts to detect and prevent the establishment of new diseases into the state. Some examples of major avian health issues in Hawaii include Avian malaria, avian pox, avian botulism, avian influenza, toxoplasmosis, owl mortalities, lead poisoning in albatross, and surveillance for west nile virus. Other examples where health can make an impact is reintroduction of endangered species.

Sea turtles:

We collaborate with the National Marine Fisheries Service to find the causes of marine turtle fibropapillomatosis (FP). FP is a tumor-causing disease of green turtles in Hawaii, however, the disease has a global distribution and affects a variety of species of marine turtles. More..


We are looking into the potential role that introduced marine fish may play in spreading parasites and bacteria to native fish. Specifically, we have been looking at infectious organisms in introduced and native fish and evaluating the cause of tumors in native butterfly fish.

Coral reefs:

Disease has played a major role in the decline of coral reef cover in certain parts of the globe such as the Caribbean. In many cases, the causes of mortalities of marine invertebrates are unknown. We are collaborating with state, territorial, and federal agencies to develop tools to assess coral health and to determine causes of coral mortality. We have projects ongoing in Hawaii and American Samoa .

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Page Last Modified: May 19, 2016