TOPICS: RESEARCH

A comprehensive approach to value Waikīkī Beach

PI: Nori Tarui
Waikiki Beach is a huge economic driver for Hawaiʻi, but with increased erosion from sea-level rise, the optimal strategy for its upkeep is still debated. This study endeavors to estimate the value of Waikiki’s benefits to tourists, residents, and businesses, and evaluate the costs of different beach improvement options.

A next generation beach observing system for Hawaiʻi

PI: Charles Fletcher
With sea-level rise impacting Hawaiian coasts, this project aims to develop a next-generation program for monitoring short and long-term changes in Hawaiian shorelines, employing recent technologic advances to enhance the efficiency and data quality of beach surveys, and ultimately, to improve accuracy and coverage of beach monitoring databases.

Assessing the vulnerability of coastal wastewater infrastructure to climate change

PI: Daniele Spirandelli
This research aimed, with community and agency stakeholders, to identify and map critical factors contributing to wastewater infrastructure vulnerability to a changing climate, particularly sea-level rise and extreme precipitation, and to develop a process that builds adaptive capacity into the system. Results showed groundwater inundation as a significant threat to sewer pipes, and a policy gap analysis identified discontinuities in key components of Hawaiʻi’s current onsite management program between land-use planning efforts and state siting regulations.

Building Science Experiments

In this episode, we’re designing, building, and conducting underwater experiments to learn about macro algae, fish, and the reef’s interdependencies. Watch the trailer for Season 3, Episode 12 on Vimeo or Youtube. FULL EPISODE Or watch this episode on YouTube Additional Resources: IN THIS ...

Coastal Ocean Hawaiʻi Acidification Monitoring Network (COHAMN) and carbonate mineral dissolution study

PI: Eric DeCarlo
This project is part of a long-term, ongoing effort to record carbon dioxide concentrations in multiple coral reef settings, producing the longest continuous CO2 record in the world from a coral reef environment, and has illustrated that time series data are critical to understanding and quantifying reef contributions to global carbon cycling. Results so far show that, currently, Hawaiian coastal waters largely release CO2 to the atmosphere, but with elevated carbon dioxide that is absorbed, models show that tropical reefs will be net dissolving by the mid-21st century.

Collaborative investigation of hydraulic and geochemical connectivity between wastewater and land-use and the oceanic waters of Kāneʻohe Bay, Oʻahu

PI: Craig Glenn
This project examined the environmental and health risks of wastewater leakage from on-site sewage disposal systems, by assessing the hydraulic and geochemical connectivity between wastewaters and ocean waters of Kāneʻohe Bay using field studies and pioneering thermal infrared imaging mounted on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The remote sensing enabled the team to produce high-resolution maps of groundwater and wastewater leakage from local septic systems into waters of the Kahaluʻu watershed and Kānaʻohe Bay. A local-scale model was developed from sixteen months of data that will help inform remediation strategies to address wastewater leakage problems in the area.

Collaborative investigation of hydraulic and geochemical connectivity between wastewaters and other land-uses and the ocean waters of Waialua Bay, Oʻahu

PI: Craig Glenn
This project assesses the hydraulic and geochemical connectivity between on-site sewage disposal system wastewaters and the oceanic waters around the greater Waialua Bay area, Oʻahu, to help develop a more complete understanding of the environmental and health risks of wastewater leakage.

Collaborative Study of Groundwater Transport Paths and Discharge Loads of Wastewaters and Other Land-Uses that Impact the Ewa Coastal Zones of West Oahu

PI: Craig Glenn
On-site sewage disposal systems threaten groundwater quality via the release of untreated sewage effluent to the environment. This work plans to use remote sensing techniques with field studies to establish groundwater flow paths and contaminant transport around Ewa Beach, Oʻahu, to aid in future remediation strategizing.

Coral reef CO2 variations at the Coastal Ocean Hawaiʻi Acidification Network (COHAMN): Impact of basin scale oceanographic forcing

PI: Eric DeCarlo
This project continues the decade-old MAPCO2 buoy program at four coral reef sites around Oʻahu, measuring CO2 in the atmosphere and dissolved in seawater as well as other parameters relevant to CO2 biogeochemistry, as part of an ongoing global CO2 monitoring program.

Coral Reseach on Moorea

In this episode, we learn about the importance of long-term marine research in a changing environment. Researchers from UC Santa Barbara have been studying the reefs in French Polynesia, on the island of Moorea, for over two decades. Their research ...

Defining Ecosystem-based Management Boundaries Using Genetics and Fisheries Data

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: ROBERT TOONEN Graduate Student: Johanna Wren The exchange of individuals among populations, termed connectivity, is a central element of population persistence and maintenance of genetic diversity, and influences most ecological and evolutionary phenomena. To date, field studies of ...

Differentiating treated and untreated wastewater contamination in a tropical coastal community using microbial community genomics

PI: Craig Nelson
There is growing concern that coastal ecosystems are threatened by sewage contamination of groundwaters. Using genomic methods, this project will examine the bacterial populations in the Keaukaha area of Hawaiʻi Island, to differentiate sources of contamination, and aid in management efforts to ameliorate sewage leakage.

Do seawalls lower property values?

PI: John Lynham
This work examined the economic consequences of a strategy commonly used in years past of building sea walls to protect property threatened by increased coastal erosion. Based on a technique previously used successfully by the authors in San Diego, CA, the researchers examined property sales on Oʻahu for the last 30 years and combined this with locations of seawalls built over those years. They found that while properties with coastal armoring maintain their value, there is evidence that neighboring properties show a decrease in value with time.

Economic activity, technological progress, and water resource utilization on Oʻahu

PI: Peter Fuleky
These researchers are developing summary measures of economic conditions in various industries (especially tourism, health care, food, and agriculture) to establish the levels of dependency on the state’s limited water resources and likely future demand under various scenarios of economic, technological, and population change.

Effects of watershed restoration to traditional Hawaiian land use practices on health of nearshore coral reef ecosystems

PI: Robert Toonen
Reimplementation of traditional practices in the Heʻeia ahupuaʻa, in addition to invasive mangrove removal, has been predicted to support improvements to the coastal ecosystems of Kānoʻohe Bay. This study will examine effects on water quality and changes to coral reef health, in response to restoration efforts.

Enabling real-time predictive modeling of microbial pathogen risk along the Honolulu shoreline

PI: Craig Nelson
This project generates a real-time predictive model of microbial pathogen risk for the south shore of Oʻahu, an area with some of the highest instances of recreational waterborne disease in the U.S. Ideally, the model will be easily applied and interpreted by health agencies for the benefit of the general public.

Enhancing social-ecological resilience and ecosystem services through restoration of coastal agroforestry systems

PI: Leah Bremer
Using ongoing restoration efforts at Heʻeia, Oʻahu, this research examines the ecological, economic, and cultural benefits of coastal agroforestry restoration in order to produce state-wide recommendations for prime locations to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services of high interest to agencies, funding sources, and communities.

Envisioning In Situ Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategies for a Densely Developed Coastal Community, Waikiki

PI: Wendy Meguro
Waikiki, an economic hub for Hawaiʻi, is already subject to regularly flooding and faces an uncertain future with sea-level rise. This project will offer conceptual design renderings towards an “in-place” adaptation strategy, to help motivate large-scale planning for an adaptive environment in this densely developed coastal community.

Fish Flow: Filling the gap between spawning and settlement

PI: Brian Bowen
This project aimed to track reef fish, using their genetic data, from where they spawned as larvae to where they settle on the reef, as a direct measure of population connectivity. Engaging student volunteers, the research team collected over 1500 samples of three target species across the Hawaiian islands. Using advanced genetic technology and computer-aided population connectivity texts, the team generated maps that illustrate that most adult reef fish in Kāneʻohe Bay originate from neighboring East Oʻahu reefs rather than from inside the bay, useful information for appropriate managers.

Fish Origins Revealed in DNA

We’re investigating the origins of Hawaiian reef fishes with Dr. Brian Bowen’s lab at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology. The Hawaiian islands are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean Basin and far away from other coral reefs—meaning that ...

Fostering a SOEST culture of place-based and community-based pedagogy in support of coastal sustainability in Hawaiʻi

PI: Barbara Bruno
The goal of this project is to train geoscience faculty at UH Mānoa in place-based teaching practices in order for them, in turn, to train a diverse, local workforce and community to address the critical needs of our islands in enhancing coastal resilience and sustainability.

Growth optimization and survival of the bleaching-resistant coral genus Pavona for reef restoration in Hawaiʻi

PI: Peter Marko
These researchers are aiding in bleached coral-reef restoration efforts by experimentally determining optimal nursery growth conditions for the stress-tolerant coral genus Pavona and evaluating the role of colony size and morphology variation on out-planted coral survival at restoration sites.

Harnessing environmental DNA for healthy reefs

PI: Brian Bowen
This study monitors the health of coral reefs by using environmental DNA collected from waters around the reefs to identify which species are present, including cryptic and hidden ones, and to track the overall biodiversity on reefs in response to environmental stressors.

Hawaiʻi Sea Grant Graduate Fellowship Program

HAWAIʻI SEA GRANT GRADUATE FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM The Hawaiʻi Sea Grant Graduate Fellowship Program provided skills training to graduate students preparing to become scientists and coastal and ocean resource managers through opportunities to engage in outreach, science communication, and informal education ...

Hehihehi management for microbial-mediated sediment removal in fishponds

PI: Kiana Frank
This study employs the modern tools of microbiology to examine the efficacy of a traditional management tool applied to today’s fishpond restoration efforts. The researcher is examining whether microbes may decompose pond-clogging sediment faster if aided by hehihehi, the traditional practice of stomping and mixing of the fishpond sediment.

Hurricane with A History

Hawaiian Newspapers Illuminate an 1871 Storm How 114 years of Hawaiian-language newspapers starting in 1834 extend our knowledge of natural disasters into the nineteenth century and to precontact times ...

Identifying hot spots of sewage pollution in Hilo, Hawaiʻi

PI: Tracy Wiegner
Hawaiʻi banned new cesspools in 2015, but groundwater contamination from the remaining 8700 cesspools in the Hilo area is a continuing concern. This work will use dye tracer studies to track cesspool outflows and use sewage indicators to establish contaminant sources to coastal groundwaters to inform future management decisions.

Impacts of climate changes on a native and an invasive Hawaiian plant using a newly developed Intelligent Plant growing System (IPS)

PI: Camilo Mora
This study uses a previously-developed, affordable Intelligent Plant growing System (IPS) that employs automation technology to control climatic conditions precisely. For this project, the system will be applied to assess the viability of plants under multiple co-occurring climatic changes and prepare managers for future decision-making to cope with agricultural and vegetation issues as the climate shifts.

Integrating climate science with local knowledge through community vulnerability assessment on Kauaʻi

PI: Daniele Spirandelli
This study examines the opportunities and challenges of integrating coastal resilience into local community plans, using the County of Kauaʻi’s efforts as a case study. Researchers will combine broader climate science risk information with local knowledge to support statewide goals to prepare counties for future climate hazards.

Integration of next-generation sequencing into traditional Hawaiian practices to improve management and restoration of fishponds

PI: Robert Toonen
With Hawaiian fishponds as models of sustainable aquatic resource management, this study uses two important crab species, Portunus sanguinolentus hawaiiensis and Scylla serrata, to explore whether fishponds are self-seeding, importing, or exporting species, and whether traditional harvest practices continue to be viable. Early results show a broad diversity of crab sizes, with a possibility of tagging and tracking crabs outside the fishpond, as well as within.

Investigating the origin and impact of sedimentation on the health of Hawaiian mesophotic reefs for sustainable coastal development

PI: Robert Toonen
This project continues collecting data from mesophotic zones (30-180 m depths) around Oʻahu and West Maui to update models and develop predictive maps of coral and invasive algae distribution, in order to help managers and policymakers choose best strategies for coastal development and runoff control to protect these vulnerable low-light ecosystems.

Ka Pili Kai Spring 2016

Humpback Whale Vocal Communications Between Mothers and Calves Wastewater’s Influence on Coastal Groundwater Quality and the Health of Coral Reefs in Maunalua Bay, O‘ahu Attack of the Drones: Characterizing Groundwater Discharge on Maui Using the Latest Research Tools Simulating Sea-Level ...

Ka Pili Kai Summer 2016

Hawai‘i ’s Water Resources Submarine Groundwater Discharge Water Resources Research Center Highlight: Dr. Aly El-Kadi UH Water Resources Research Center and Sea Grant Partner on $20 M Water Sustainability Project Increasing Access to Safe Drinking Water on Hawai‘i Island The ...

Land-based pollutants in herbivorous reef fishes on Hawaiian reefs

PI: Megan Donahue
This work compares concentrations of metal pollutants in reef fish muscle tissue collected at several sites suffering, to different degrees, from contamination due to urban runoff into watersheds and coastal waters. The researchers aim to identify species and locations most impacted and aid communities to minimize the effects of land-based pollutants on coral reefs.

Land-based pollutants on Hawaiian reefs

PI: Megan Donahue
Increased military, agricultural, and residential development contaminates surrounding watersheds that feed into critical coastal ecosystems. This work examines land-based pollutants, such as metals and persistant organics, in coastal ecosystems and reef fish to understand how the pollutants are distributed and transported, with an eye toward better land management decisions.

Longitudinal assessment: Our Project in Hawaiʻi’s Intertidal (OPIHI)

PI: Kanesa Seraphin
This project revisited the Hawaiian intertidal zone, last studied over a decade ago, to document, monitor, and assess changes in species compositions due to factors like climate change, coastal development, and the spread of invasive species. The project trained and mentored undergraduate students as interns, for college credit, gaining important, required hands-on research experience. By engaging these students as well as community members in this place-based research, 48 comprehensive surveys were completed across the state, with preliminary results suggesting the spread of invasive algae and changes to water quality.

Mapping the Freshwater of Hawaiʻi

In this episode, we learn how scientists use chemical signatures to track the flow of freshwater underground and into the ocean as part of the ‘Ike Wai project’s work to map and model the aquifer system of underground, stored freshwater ...

Measuring Mercury in the Clean Room

In this episode, we're invited inside the cleanest room in Hawaii to see how scientists study pollutants in the food web. Watch the trailer for Season 3, Episode 16 on Vimeo or Youtube— Season 3, Episode 16.  FULL EPISODE Or watch ...

Mercury and the Food Web

In this episode, we learn how scientists use isotope analysis to understand food webs and how organisms are interacting. Watch the trailer for Season 3, Episode 15 on Vimeo or Youtube. FULL EPISODE Or watch this episode on YouTube Additional Resources: Dr. Brian Popp, ...

Microbial biogeochemical cycling across a chronosequence of mangrove introductions across Hawaiʻi

PI: Rosanna Alegado
Invasive mangroves harm Hawaiian coastal ecosystems, choking native plants, providing footholds for invasives, and generating leaf litter mounds inedible to Hawaiian species. This study investigates whether microbial communities can evolve to tackle the detritus and examines the resilience of our coastal ecosystems to mangrove invasion.

Mitigating climate change impacts: What drives thermal resiliency in Hawaiʻi’s coral reefs?

PI: Ruth Gates
This study aimed to understand the biology and physiology of corals, their symbiotic algae, and microbial communities that underpin different responses to bleaching events, why some coral colonies survive bleaching and others do not. Thermal resilience was tested in four coral species important to Hawaiʻi, examining the role of morphology, tissue thickness, and behavior of bacterial communities in bleaching recovery. Results showed that after two weeks at high heat, rice coral (Montipora capitate) was most resistant to bleaching, although all four species returned to normal after four weeks of recovery time. Most susceptible to bleaching was the lace coral (Pocillopora acuta), which has the thinnest tissues.

Mutualism on the Reef

In this episode, we're in French Polynesia, on the island of Moorea at the Gump Research Station. Scientists are discovering exciting new examples of mutualism on the reef. Watch the trailer for Season 3, Episode 10 on Vimeo or Youtube. FULL EPISODE Or watch ...

Ongoing Projects

Campus Spatial Survey and Integrated Planning Light Pollution in Hawaiʻi Delamping Initiative Forest City Military Community Energy Efficiency Monitoring Kuykendall Hall Water Resources Working Group ...

Our Project In Hawaiʻi’s Intertidal (OPIHI): Examining change over time

PI: Joanna Philippoff
OPIHI, Our Project in Hawaiʻi’s Intertidal, continues a long-term effort to expand knowledge of the vulnerable intertidal zone across Hawaiʻi, engaging students and communities in collecting meaningful data used to characterize whether and how intertidal organisms’ abundance and diversity is changing over time.

Podcast #1: Fish Flow

Meet Dr. Brian Bowen and Michael Hoban and learn about their project tracking important aquaculture fish species from egg production to the reefs where they settle and grow. Read more about their project here ...

Podcast #1: Waterworks

Dr. Peter Fuleky and Sisi Zhang are conducting an innovative study to identify the relationship between economic conditions in different sectors (tourism, health, agriculture, etc.) and the state’s limited water resources. Read more about their project here ...

Podcast #10: Metallic Phish

Dr. Megan Donahue and Eileen Nalley look for traces of land-based, metallic pollutants in tissues of commonly eaten reef fishes and the mechanisms involved in their transport from land to fishes. Read more about their project here ...

Podcast #11: DNA Detection

Dr. Brian Bowen, Cassie Lyons, and Mykle Hoban capitalize on a new technique of using free-floating environmental DNA sampled from above coral reefs to monitor their health based on the species present. Read more about their project here ...

Podcast #12: Erosion Commotion

Dr. Chip Fletcher and Anna Mikkelson employ drones to regularly generate profiles of Waikiki Beach to understand and monitor the movement of sand on, off, and across the beach through time. Read more about their project here ...

Podcast #13: Waialua Wastewater

Jordan Mason and Lucas Ellison work with Dr. Craig Glenn using drones to explore possible pollution of Waialua Bay from local on-site sewage disposal systems leaking into groundwater that flows to the bay. Read more about their project here ...

Podcast #2: Resilient Communities

Dr. Daniele Spirandelli and Alisha Summers work with Kauaʻi communities to develop assessments of their vulnerability to developing coastal hazards associated with climate change. Read more about their project here ...

Podcast #3: Pathogen Investigation

Dr. Craig Nelson and Jessica Bullington tackle the issue of bacterial pathogens in the Ala Wai Canal, developing a model to determine the risks of infection along the canal and offshore. Read more about their project here ...

Podcast #3: Urban understandings and changing coasts

Meet Dr. Daniele Spirandelli and Theresa Dean and delve into the vulnerability of Hawaiʻi's wastewater infrastructure to a changing climate. Read more about their project here ...

Podcast #4: Is it freshwater or saltwater?

Meet Dr. Henrietta Dulai and Trista McKenzie and learn about their efforts to map submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) into Kāneʻohe Bay to measure the nutrient flow from groundwater compared with streams. Read more about their project here ...

Podcast #4: Wave Runup

Dr. Martin Guiles and Camilla Tognacchini explore the risks to west Maui of inundation and increased erosion from ordinary ocean waves as base-line sea levels rise. Read more about their project here ...

Podcast #5: Seeds of Change

Dr. Camilo Mora and Devon DeBevoise are investigating the relative tolerance of invasive and endemic plants to growing with a wide range of water and temperature conditions that may occur with climate change. Read more about their project here ...

Podcast #5: The two-to-three-day rule

Meet Dr. Craig Nelson and Krissy Remple and hear about their attempts to develop a new rapid, cost-effective tool to determine water quality where groundwater contamination might occur. Read more about their project here ...

Podcast #6: Filter feeders

Meet Dr. Brian Popp and Leilei Shih as they describe their project to evaluate the role of a recent invasive sponge population in Kāneʻohe Bay--for bad or good. Read more about their project here ...

Podcast #6: Intertidal Changes

Dr. Joanna Philippoff and Patrick Nichols are leading a longterm project that enlists the help of students to characterize the algae and invertebrate species of Hawaiʻi’s intertidal zone. Read more about their project here ...

Podcast #7: Growing Coral

Dr. Peter Marko and Claire Lewis are determining the optimal conditions for growth of the coral Pavona variens to aid in restoration efforts of Hawaiian coral reefs. Read more about their project here ...

Podcast #7: Hawaiian water

Meet Dr. Michael Roberts and Nathan DeMaagd and discover the intricacies of the economics of shifting water demands in the face of climate change. Read more about their project here ...

Podcast #8: Microbial Mechanisms

Dr. Kiana Frank combines modern microbial biology with traditional fishpond management techniques to explore sediment removal from Hawaiian fishponds. Read more about her project here ...

Podcast #9: Mesophotic Mapping

Dr. Rob Toonen and Evan Barba explore sediment distribution across the sensitive ecosystems of the mesophotic zone and its connection to land use management decisions. Read more about their project here ...

Predicting and mapping Hawaiian mesophotic coral ecosystems for sustainable coastal development

PI: Robert Toonen
This study sought to address our fundamental lack of knowledge regarding vulnerable low-light, mesophotic coral ecosystems (at depths of 30-180 m) in order to better manage impacts from invasive species, coastal development, and exploration. By using statistical modeling, combined with machine learning, researchers created predictive maps to illustrate the distribution of mesophotic reefs and invasive algae across the main Hawaiian Islands. They found that all islands had some stretches of coastline identified as highly susceptible to invasion of the green alga Avrainvillea amadelpha, in both shallow and mesophotic depths.

Predicting Hawaiʻi water demand under climate change

PI: Michael Roberts
This project studied how climate change may affect future water demand on Oʻahu, focusing on variations in temperature, precipitation, and prevailing climatic conditions. Results imply that microclimates play an important role in demand, with the hot and dry area households using typically 100 gallons more per day than those in cooler, wetter aras. Using water billing data cross-referenced with fine-scale weather data, a model was developed that estimates the growth of Oʻahu aquifer yields needed to satisfy possible shifts in demand (up to 50% increase) under different climate scenarios, or alternatively, the price increases necessary to limit consumption levels.

Rapid Response: Application of a qPCR-based test for Enterococci as a rapid beach management tool in Hawaiʻi

PI: Marek Kirs
The goal of this project was to design a rapid, simple, molecular-based water quality test that authorities can easily apply on Hawaiian beaches to increase hazard resilience of coastal communities. Standard coastal water quality testing techniques require 24-48 hours of culturing Enterococci bacteria, which often gives falsely high readings in Hawaiʻi from environmental sources. This newly developed method uses a specifically human-sewage-borne pathogen, Bacteroides, detected by rapid molecular tests, and is proving to give efficient and accurate detection of contamination to provide more timely notice and better protect public health.

Resolving the Diet of Larval Marine Fishes to Accelerate Aquaculture Opportunities

PI: Brian Bowen
Demand for sea food increases while wild stocks dwindle, but marine aquaculture efforts struggle to raise fish larvae due to their highly selective, yet undetermined, food preferences. This project applies innovative DNA barcoding of larval intestinal contents to determine typical diets and thus enhance aquaculture opportunities to provide sustainable fish stocks.

Sea Urchin Disaster

In this episode, we look at the dramatic decline in the sea urchin population along Moorea's eastern reefs. Researcher Stella Swanson takes us out in the field as we look for evidence of what caused an entire species to be ...

Source tracking coastal groundwater and runoff contamination with microbial genomics and dissolved organic fluorometry

PI: Craig Nelson
This project focused on using new techniques of microbial genomics and fluorescent characterization of organic matter to track sources of groundwater contamination in several important Hawaiian watersheds, in order to provide tools to protect streams, groundwater, and coastal ecosystems. The high density of cesspools in Hawaiʻi is a potentially significant source of contamination to streams and coral reefs, but it is currently prohibitive to identify contamination sources. For this project, hundreds of water samples from Oʻahu, Maui, and Hawaiʻi have been collected and are being characterized to develop microbial source tracking and better testing techniques.

Suspended Particles in the Ocean

In this episode, researcher Hillary Close takes us through the process of using chemical isotope analysis to uncover secrets of the ocean food web hidden in tiny, suspended particles. Watch the trailer for Season 3, Episode 17 on Vimeo or Youtube. FULL EPISODE Or ...

Testing Freshwater

In this episode, we’re working with Hawai'i Sea Grant researchers and graduate students to examine the water quality of freshwater as it heads to the ocean. Freshwater travels in streams and underground, picking up pollution from our cesspools and agricultural ...

The role of sponges in nitrogen cycling in Kāneʻohe Bay, Oʻahu

PI: Brian Popp
This study focused on quantifying respiration, pumping rates, and chemical reactions of an invasive sponge, Mycale grandis, to understand the species’ impacts on nitrogen cycling in the coastal environment of Kāne‘ohe Bay, whether adding or subtracting usable nitrogen from the system. Researchers found that the M. grandis sponge can pump 83 times its own volume of water per day, giving its associated microbial communities abundant opportunity to perform nitrification, converting ammonia to forms of nitrogen oxides unusable to algae. The rapid nitrogen transformations with the high pumping rates of these sponges means this invasive species may play a significant role in nitrogen concentrations in the bay.

The role of surface and groundwater inputs in driving water quality in Kāneʻohe Bay, Oʻahu

PI: Henrietta Dulai
The goal of this project was to identify submarine groundwater discharge locations and quantify groundwater and its derived nutrient flow into Kāneʻohe Bay, particularly as it varies with wet and dry seasonal cycles. The researchers found that most freshwater in nearby coral reefs derives from streams during the wet season, but during the dry season, input from groundwater increases 150%. These results have led to maps with quantification of groundwater discharge, and measurements of nutrient fluxes have identified several watershed hotspots of wastewater contamination.

The use of a euryhaline Tilapia to assess the endocrine disrupting effects of anthropogenic chemicals on growth and osmoregulation of a tropical teleost species inhabiting coastal waters and wetlands in Hawaiʻi and the tropics

PI: Andre Seale
This work sought to understand the integrated physiological and developmental effects of endocrine-disrupting agricultural chemicals on the tropical euryhaline tilapia, Oreochromis mossambicus. Mozambique tilapia are widely used for aquaculture production so this research may better inform those interested in the effects of these waterborne chemicals on the growth and health of these fish. It will also provide critical information towards proper management of pesticide use and water resources to mitigate the effects of these agricultural chemicals on aquatic wildlife in general.

Tracking groundwater nutrients using novel tracers to inform coastal watershed management in South Kohala, Hawaiʻi

PI: Henrietta Dulai
Using a combination of nitrogen isotopes and microcontaminants as source tracers, this project aims to identify pathways of groundwater flow to the coastline along South Kohala, Hawaiʻi, tracing sources of groundwater contaminants and excess nutrients. Managers can use results to improve wastewater management and improve coral reef resilience.

Vulnerability of Coastal Ecosystems to Increased Salinity from Climate Change

PI: Kasey Barton
Critical Hawaiian coastal habitats are at risk from climate change impacts, particularly sea-level rise, which threaten protective coastal plant species. This work examines the salinity tolerance of native, and invasive, coastal plants to identify those in need of greater management and conservation action.

West Maui wave run-up forecasts

PI: Douglas Luther
This project plans to develop short-term forecast models of wave-driven inundation “run-up” events for West Maui, to help managers, emergency management personnel, and the public cope with the increasing hazards of flooding events, and associated erosion, driven by wave activity superimposed on rising sea levels.

What can seascape-scale vegetation patterns on coral reefs tell us about reef health?

PI: Elizabeth Madin
Coral reefs worldwide are threatened by changing conditions yet are often remote and hard to monitor. This project will use drone-based imagery to explore how coral “halos” are linked to reef ecosystem health, and whether that health may change over time where protective measures are instituted.