Mauna Kea’s high-elevation dry forest and the palila that live here are under constant threat from introduced animals, plants, insects, diseases, drought, and fire.
Hawai‘i’s native birds are not immune to avian diseases. It is likely that avian malaria had a greater impact on palila when they occurred at lower elevations. It is spread by mosquitos that do not occur at the elevations palila now live because it is too cold (Banko et al. 2002). Even though the disease is not known to currently affect palila, it will likely become a factor as temperatures increase due to climate change and the mosquito zone increases in elevation.
Mosquitos spread avian malaria at lower elevations. Hawaiian birds are not immune to the disease.