Mango Trees as Cultural Indicators in the Limahuli Valley, Kauai

Torunn Stangeland


This paper describes the development of a new rapid method to age mango (Mangifera indica L.) trees using remote sensing data. The method is based on demonstrating that that crown width (CW) correlates positively with diameter at breast height (dbh). The data generated from this approach were used to assess the relative age of mango plantations in the Limahuli valley, Kaua`i, and to determine if the trees were planted in the latter half of the 1800s - a period of major social disruption on the island. Correlation between dbh and CW shows that these variables are positively correlated (R2 = 0.7014). The freely available Google Earth and GPS Visualizer were used to visualize the position and size of trees. Using high-quality aerial photographs of the island, it may thus be possible to spot and map large mango tree canopies, and thereby provide a starting point to search for sites that were still populated by Hawaiians at the end of the 1800’s. This method, in conjunction with aerial photographs or high-resolution satellite images, may be used to map and age human mango plantations and settlements in other regions, if combined with ground measurements and knowledge about tree growth at the site. 

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