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Maintaining Healthy Coastal Ecosystems: Understanding Disease Risk of Hawaiʻi's Coral Reefs and Sources of Coral Pathogens

Principal Investigator: Sean Callahan

Graduate Student: Amanda Shore

This research aims to discover sources of coral pathogens on Hawaiʻi’s reefs and to determine how changing environmental conditions influence outbreaks of coral disease. Marine organisms and terrestrial runoff will be tested for the presence of bacterial pathogens of coral. Environmental stressors will be tested to see how they influence coral defense against disease. Sites with coral pathogens will be mapped to assess which reefs are at high risk of future disease outbreaks. The results of this study can help formulate measures to reduce or prevent pathogen contamination onto Hawaiʻi’s coral reefs and can shape how Hawaiʻi balances sustainable coastal development with goals for maintaining healthy reef ecosystems.