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Conrgatulations to TCBES student Eszter Collier

Our TCBES student Eszter Collier won two different scholarships to help fund her Masters' thesis project. She won one $1,000 from the Society for Conservation Biology and $1,000 from the Hawaii Geographic Information Coordinating Council (HIGICC). Congrats to Eszter!

MS thesis defense by Kamala Anthony
Please join us for Kamala Anthony’s M.S. thesis defense on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, at 3:30pm in Wentworth 1.

Title: Malama lokoia: Salinity and primary productivity relationships at Honokea loko, Hale o Lono, and Waiahole/Kapalaho on Hawaii Island, HI.

Abstract: Along the coastlines of the Hawaiian Islands, there is a valuable and critical resource known for its brackish water habitat – loko i‘a (Hawaiian fishponds). They are dynamic systems dependent on the balance between fresh groundwater inputs from uka (uplands) and landward flow of kai (seawater), which all vary depending on the behavior of our climate, including rainfall, tides, and storms. This nutrient rich groundwater meeting the seawater at the coast allows for an abundant growth of limu or primary productivity attracting many of Hawaii’s favorable native brackish water and herbivorous species. Having an intimate relationship with this natural coastal nursery, Hawaiians effectively modified these coastal habitats into loko i’a to provide a sustainable food source for the communities in which they reside. In support of these invaluable resources and practices, this study seeks to understand primary productivity and salinity relationships along the same coastline at Honokea Loko of Waiuli, and Hale o Lono and Waiahole/Kapalaho of Honohononui, HI. Through weekly water quality monitoring by kiai loko (fishpond caretakers), biweekly water column sampling, and benthic primary productivity experiments, salinity was found to be strongly correlated to many physical water properties and benthic primary production across all sites. Due to these strong correlations, loko i'a communities would greatly benefit from these methodologies to quantify the variability of environmental changes through time and specific impacts of climate phenomena, changes in rainfall and sea level. These factors have the potential to interfere with primary productivity and alter loko i’a systems interactions entirely.

MS thesis defense by Cherie Kauahi
Please join us for Cherie Kauahi’s M.S. thesis defense on Friday, July 6, 2018, at 10 am in Wentworth 1.

Title: Hydrology of three Loko Iʻa, Hawaiian fishponds, on the eastside of Hawaiʻi Island, HI

Abstract: Groundwater is a primary source of nutrients for loko iʻa (Hawaiian fishponds) in Hawaiʻi. However, freshwater inputs are variable in these dynamic coastal ecosystems. The focus of this study was to (1) understand the changes in relative groundwater flow through time, (2) determine differences in groundwater composition among shoreline and loko iʻa springs and (3) determine how climate change may impact these groundwater dependent ecosystems. Three groundwater fed loko iʻa kuapā were the focus of this study: Honokea, Hale o Lono and Waiāhole loko iʻa, in Keaukaha, HI. Through time series measurements, the application of mass balance equations and Darcy’s Law, groundwater flow was found to vary at time scales of months and seasons. Furthermore, positive relationships between relative groundwater flow and rainfall were significant. Sampling of springs determined differences in groundwater chemistry, with the highest NO2 + NO3 at Waiāhole and the highest PO4 at Honokea. Based on d18O, the elevation in which rainfall occurred that contributed to regional recharge of aquifers feeding loko iʻa and shoreline springs ranged between 400 and 900 m, with the elevation of source water increasing at springs farther east. Predicted increases in rainfall between 20-40% could increase groundwater flow equivalent to that observed after >75 mm of rain over a 48 hr period. Future sea level rise, 0.4 m by the year 2040, will result in the daily high tide salinity increasing from 3-8 to >16. This study provides baseline information for managers restoring these unique environments to prepare for future changes in loko iʻa hydrology. Furthermore, the methods used here can be applied to larger groundwater dependent ecosystems throughout Hawaiʻi.

TCBES students and faculty involved in response to Kilauea eruption Watch the CNN video featuring a recent TCBES graduate, Rose Hart, and faculty member Jon Price.

MS thesis defense by Nicole Fernandez
When: Friday, June 8th at 10am
Where: STB226

Nicole will be presenting her work on the 'Omao (Myadestes obscurus), come and support her at her defense!

The TCBES cars can now be rented with Jeremy at
Although we will try our best to accommodate everyone, try booking the car as early as possible to avoid disapointment.
- TCBES 4 Runner Sign-Out Form $50/day
- TCBES Ford Escape Hybrid Sign-Out Form $30/day

We also have created a new service where TCBES students and affiliates can borrow equipment for free from TCBES. Please view the list of items on our Support Page. You can request equippment from Jeremy at

MS thesis defense by Geneviève Blanchet
When: Thursday, June 14th at 11am
Where: Wentworth 1

Title: Genomic diversity of the critically-endangered 'Alalā (Corvus hawaiiensis) early and late-bottleneck

Abstract: Genetic diversity is often reduced in bottlenecked populations, which can lead to problems like inbreeding depression and reduced adaptive potential. One example of a bottlenecked species that is experiencing negative genetic consequences is the ‘alalā (Hawaiian crow; Corvus hawaiiensis). The ‘alalā suffered a century-long bottleneck, and became extinct in the wild in 2002. After decades of captive breeding, 11 individuals were successfully released back into the wild in October 2017, representing the first step in a long-term reintroduction effort. To aid this species recovery program, we have begun assessing genome-wide diversity in the ‘alalā. In this study, we used a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) capture approach to test for loss of allelic diversity and heterozygosity between two sets of samples: museum and modern. Museum specimens were collected in the early bottleneck period (circa 1890), and modern individuals were sampled during years in which the population reached its smallest size (circa 1990). Preliminary data analysis suggests no loss in overall genetic diversity – measured as the number of SNPs per bird – between groups, but genetic structuring is present between museum and modern samples. If these preliminary findings are confirmed by our on-going, in-depth analyses, this would suggest that the ‘alalā population was relatively small with low genetic diversity before the bottleneck event.

MS thesis defense by Ilana Stout
When: Thursday, June 7th at 2 pm
Where: Wentworth 9
Title: Perpetuating Agricultural Heritage: Saving Seeds and Stories on Hawaiʻi Island.

Abstract: The saving and exchange of seeds and other germplasm is an essential component of in situ conservation of agricultural biodiversity. This qualitative research project identified people who keep seed on Hawai‘i Island, collected their stories of heritage varieties of seeds, interviewed them about their motivations for seed saving and exchange, and examined their challenges. Seed savers cite a wide range of motives for keeping and sharing seed and identified specific challenges to effective seed saving here in Hawai‘i. The findings from this study may be useful to academic and non-profit organizations that seek to encourage seed saving and enhanced seed exchange networks in the Hawaiian Islands. Strategies for further identifying and collecting the stories and germplasm of rare heritage varieties through citizen science methods are discussed.

MS Internship Presentation by Katie van Dyk Katie van Dyk is a TCBES Internship Track student and will give a public presentation of her work on Friday May 25 at 11:00AM in Wentworth 14. The title of her talk is: "Pollination in Hawaiian Forest Birds"

Congratulation to TCBES student Jeff Stallman TCBES master student Jeff is making news in the UH Hilo Stories with his research on "Genome research for worldwide Smithsonian project" on Compositae (daisy family) found on Hawai‘i Island. Great job Jeff!
Research at UH at Hilo Very interesting research done here at UH at Hilo on was picked up by The Walstreet Journal Hawaii’s Cesspools Threaten Drinking Water, Tourism Sewage from holes of human waste have state lawmakers scrambling to find a fix

Congratulations to all the people involved in this great research:

Faculty: Steve Colbert, Jim Beets, Lisa Muehlstein TCBES students (at the time of project): Leilani Abaya PIPES: Maile Aiwohi, Evlyn Braum (UH Manoa), Rick Tabandera, Devon Aguiar, Jazmine Panelo, Bryan Tonga, Belytza Veretez, (U of Puerto Rico) - all UHH MARE unless otherwise noted Volunteer: Chelsea Wong (UHH MARE) STEM Honors, Sigma Xi: Carrie SooHoo (UHH MARE) EPA GRO: Serina Kahilii (UHH MARE) Technician: Kailea Carlson (former TCBES), Lindsay Kramer

Puako Community Association South Kohala Conservation Program: Sierra Tobiason (UHH MARE, TCBES) The Nature Conservancy: Chad Wiggins (UHH MARE), Rebecca Most (TCBES) UH Manoa/TNC: Courtney Couch

TCBES CARS ARE BACK ON THE ROAD After a few weeks of repairs, both TCBES 4Runner and Ford Escape Hybrid are back on the road! Reserve them by contacting Katie at
Congratulations to our Fall 2017 graduates
Congratulations to our new TCBES M.S. graduates Laura Crane, Heather Nahaku Kalei, Blaine Luiz, and Hokuokahalelani Pihana.

Congratulations to Dr. Jonathan Koch
Dr. Jonathan Koch was awarded the prestigious 2018 Smith Fellowship to study genomic diversity of Hawaiian bees! Find the full story on the Society for Conservation Biology News page, on UHH news page, on the UH System News page, in the Hawai‘i Tribune Herald, and on Big Island News Now.Jonathan Koch

Congratulations to TCBES student Kathryn van Dyk
Katie is a recipient of the Hawaiʻi Audubon Society Research Grant for her project: “Important Plants for Nectarivorous Birds in Continuous and Naturally Fragmented Forest on Hawaii Island”.
Way to go Katie! Katie van Dyk in the Hawaiʻi Audubond Society Publication ʻElepaio

Aloha TCBES 'Ohana, On behalf of the TCBES Club, it is with great pleasure that I announce abstracts are now being accepted for the 10th Annual Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science Research Symposium! This year's theme is "Engaging Culture and Science in Hawai'i." This event will be held on April 5th and 6th in Campus Center Room 301. Please consider submitting an abstract for either a 5 or 15 minute talk, or a poster presentation. All poster presentations will be held on Thursday, April 5th, from 5:00-7:00 PM in Campus Center Room 301. Abstract submission closes at 11:59 PM on February 23, 2018. Please follow the link to submit an abstract and register!

Funding Opportunities The Funding List Compiled by TCBES Cohort 2017 is now available here

Congratulation to TCBES student Jessica Kirkpatrick Jessica won the 1st Place 'President's award' in her section, Systematics, Evolution and Biodiversity - Hemiptera at the Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting last week in Denver, CO.

Jessica's 8-minute talk was entitled:

"Demographic data informs a habitat restoration plan for Nysius wekiuicola on the summit of Maunakea Volcano, Hawai‘i"

Jessica will receive $75, 1-year Membership in the Society, and a certificate.

ENTSOC Student Competition Systematics, Evolution, and Biodiversity Section

Representing TCBES! UH Hilo entomologist Jonathan Koch and his collaborators win runner-up award in national video competition hosted by the Entomological Society of America. View the full video and intrview here

Dr. Jonathan Koch is also being selected as a semi-finalist for the David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship Program, Class of 2018. His proposal title is, "The nalo meli kama‘āina project: Characterizing population genomic diversity of imperiled Hawaiian Hylaeus bees to inform stakeholders on in situ breeding and habitat management strategies”.

Way to go Jon!

MS thesis defense by Hokuokahalelani Pihana

When: Wednesday, November 15 at 5pm Where: Wentworth 14

Effects of the Coral Disease, Growth Anomaly, on Exosymbiotic Invertebrate Community of the Coral, Porites lobata

Abstract: Pohaku puna (Porites lobata, Dana, 1846) is a foundational coral speices found throughout coral reef systems in Hawaiʻi that are of cultural and ecological importance. Local and global anthropogenic impacts to coastal environment make pohaku puna and other coral species vulnurable to diseases and other afflicitons. Growth anomaly (GA) is a disease that has been identified on other coral species as abnormal tissue growth that increases mortality and hinders biological functions such as growth, digestion, defense, and feeding which results in reduced fecundity. This study developed a morphological definition of GA on pohaku puna colonies, in comparison to healthy (H) colonies, based on the difference in mean polyp density (H=4.1polyp/cm2, UA = 3.2 polyp/cm2, GA=2.9polyp/cm2), mean individual polyp diameter (H=1.2mm, UA=1.6mm, GA=1.8mm), and mean distance between coral polyps (H=2.0mm, UA=1.6mm, GA=2.7mm). Of these, the distance between coral polyps was the only parameter that showed significant difference between GA, UA, and H. Additionally, 12 pohaku puna colonies were examined over 6 months to determine any differences in exosymbiont species assemblage between GA afflicted and unafflicted pohaku puna colonies. No significant differences were found in exosymbiont species diversity (p-value > 0.05) and density (p-value > 0.05) between GA afflicted and unafflicted pohaku puna colonies suggesting that the presence of GA afflictions on pohaku puna does not impact exosymbiont assemblage. These results suggest there to be little impact to exosymbiotic community assemblage from this disease and the relationships amongst these host corals and their exosymbiont invertebrates are resilient to this particular disease. The size of the individual colonies and the proportion of the coral surface area occupied by GA could be a factor also and can be further investigated in future studies. It is important to note that this disease could potentially impact whole reef ecosystem structure by negatively effecting coral physiological processes and biological functions. In order to further eluciade the effects of coral GAs to whole ecosystem health and productivity future studies need to be more longitudinal and must examine the impacts to the physiological and ecological processes at the community and ecosystem levels.

Congratulations to Jonathan Koch, University of Hawaii Hilo (TCBES), for co-producing with Ethel M. Villalobos, University of Hawaii Manoa; Jonathan Wright, Hazard Design a YouTube video “The Odd Couples” that won the runner-up (2nd place) at the 2017 YouTube your Entomology Conference in Denver, Colorado! View the full video narrated by Jon here.

Since 2009, ESA (Entomological Society of America) has hosted its annual video contest, which has drawn submissions from a broad range of entomologists on a wide variety of topics, to promote the use of video to showcase the world of insect science. In 2017, 35 entomology videos were submitted for consideration. View the five finalist videos here.

MS thesis defense by Corinna Pinzari Corinna Pinzari will present her TCBES Thesis Defense Seminar on Tuesday November 14 at 9AM in W14.
The title of her presentation is:

Genetic Variation, Population Structure, and Morphology of an Endemic Bat, Lasiurus cinereus semotus (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) Across the Hawaiʻian Islands

Abstract: Describing the connections between islands and assessing meta-populations are required to effectively manage an endemic, seasonally migrant bat species with an observed archipelago wide distribution. An innovative technique to characterize the connectivity among populations is to evaluate the genetic similarity between individuals sampled from among and within islands. By combining mitochondrial and nuclear molecular markers, we can identify how island groups may differ between populations, sexes, and estimate relative abundances. One mitochondrial and six nuclear microsatellite markers were used to explore genetic connectivity among and within three islands inhabited by the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus). Employing the resources of an existing collection of bat tissue samples (~140) from the four major islands (Kauai, Hawaii, Maui, and Oahu) and applying classical population genetics analyses, I tested for potential population structure; quantified levels of genetic variation, genetic distance, and gene flow in bats among and within the Hawaiian Islands; estimated both historical long term female effective population size, contemporary effective population size, and checked for patterns of past bottleneck events. In order to accurately measure degree of population structure and phenotypic variation with respect to sex, I conducted genetic sex determination tests on bat samples from both live and desiccated specimens. In addition to exploring potential island population structure, I also examined the morphological characteristics of bat skull and wing size, with respect to island, mitochondrial clade, and sex. This project offers the most complete and current data set of population level information, describing the genetic diversity and geographic structure of Hawaii’s only endemic terrestrial land mammal. This study contributes demographic information, sex determination techniques, and banking of diverse DNA samples available for future genomic sequencing, to support management and recovery of an endangered species. Research results may provide support to state and federal agencies tasked with balancing the demands of sustainable wind generated energy and wildlife conservation in Hawaii.

MS thesis defense by Jorden Zarders

When: 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Where: STB-226 Title: Invasive Arthropod Monitoring for University of Hawaii Managed Lands and Facilities for Maunakea

Abstract: This study documents the occurrence of non-native arthropod threat taxa collected during 2015-2016 at the summit region (2800-4000m elevation) of Maunakea, Hawai’i. I assessed and recorded sampling efforts, arthropod species and morphospecies diversities and trapping techniques at subalpine (Halepōhaku, 2800m) and alpine (Astronomy Precinct, 4000m) proposed astronomy facility construction related staging sites over an eleven month monitoring period. Potential invasive arthropod species detections consisted almost entirely of spiders for all sampling efforts, with the notable exception of a single ant species found at the 2800m Halepōhaku site. Sampling efforts appeared effective at detecting threat and non-threat morphospecies evaluated through species accumulation curves. Non-threat arthropod morphospecies accounted for approximately 50% of trap captures, and occasional new morphospecies detections continued throughout the duration of the sampling period. Baited sticky traps detected threats at greater rates than other trapping techniques and this method accounted for 80% of the total threat taxa captured, whereas non-threat taxa were captured more using baited sticky and yellow pan traps than other trapping technique. Evaluations suggest that regular monitoring throughout the year with the methods tested will be likely to encounter rare potential threat taxa so that mitigation efforts (via physical, chemical, or biological control methods) could be enacted to reduce the overall threat risks associated with invasive arthropods. Regular inspection of facilities and locations directly associated with telescope or land management activities on Maunakea is limited to University of Hawaii (UH) managed lands at the summit region and does not include sites elsewhere around the island. This study explores the presence of ant occurrence at support facilities and vehicle pathways associated with telescopes and land management activities on UH managed lands. To evaluate potential invasive arthropod threat introduction source point sites, surveys were conducted using baited vials, and vehicle pathways evaluations compared threat taxa incidence rates between washed and unwashed vehicles. Surveys of telescope support sites and facilities revealed ant presence existed primarily in developed urban locations in Hilo and Waimea, and was very limited at higher elevation sites at the southern flank of Maunakea. However, the ant species (L. humile that poses the greatest threat to the summit region (~4,000m) were only found between 2,000 and 2,150 m around areas along the route traveled to the summit. Vehicle pathway assessments revealed that vehicles subject to OMKM recommended decontamination procedures have fewer incidences of threats, and that threat Formicidae was detected using multiple distinct sampling methods, and these methods should be used to ensure detection.

MS thesis defense by Jessica Kirkpatrick

When: Tuesday, November 14 at 9:00 am

Where: Kanaka‘ole Hall 126 (K126)

Title: An Assessment of Nysius wekiuicola Distributions and Micro-Habitat Conditions on Cinder Cones of the Maunakea Volcano, Hawai‘i.

Abstract: The Hawaiian endemic wēkiu bug (Nysius wekiuicola) is a carnivorous scavenger species that inhabits cinder cones above ~3,500 m elevation on the summit of the Maunakea volcano, Hawai‘i. Currently, there are 13 astronomical observatories on Maunakea with 8 facilities located on cinder cones classified as wēkiu bug habitat. Three of the 13 observatories are expected to be decommissioned within the next decade although, it is unknown how many of these facilities will be in wēkiu bug habitat. The Maunakea Comprehensive Management Plan requires observatories to implement a habitat restoration plan for arthropod species. Baseline information on species habitat use through time and the environmental conditions in which arthropod species exist are necessary for a habitat restoration plan. Wēkiu bug activity, demography, and distributions were assessed on two cinder cones for 1 year using a stratified random sample design. Trap sites were stratified by cinder cone aspect, mineral type, and slope and were sampled 6 times from June 2016- 2017. Captured wēkiu bugs were recorded and released. Wēkiu bug activity and associated distributions were mapped, demography was compared, and a generalized linear model was used to assess the influence of habitat characteristics (aspect, mineral type and cone section) on wēkiu bug distributions. During each trapping effort, thermal micro-habitat conditions were measured on the North/ Northeast and South/ Southwest aspects of cinder cones with environmental data loggers. Temperature data logger sensors were placed at varying depths throughout the insects’ habitat space (at the surface, mid surface, and ash layers of the cinder substrate). Micro-habitat temperatures were compared within and between sites for all sampled months. Degree day accumulations of thermal development were also calculated to assess the relationship between captures and accumulated degree days. Our results suggest that wēkiu bugs captures (includes demography of ages of bugs) were variable between cinder cones and within cinder cones throughout the year. Wēkiu bugs were mainly distributed on the North top sections of the cinder cone in all months except January, where high densities of bugs were captured on the South slope. This suggests that the differing aspects of a cinder cones provide a habitat refuge for wēkiu bugs during snow events. Our model indicated that aspect and cone section influence wēkiu bug distributions. Specifically, bug captures increase as you move from the bottom section of the cone to the top of the cone, with the highest captures predicted to be on the Northeast aspects and the lowest captures on the Southwest aspects. No significant relationship was found between degree days and bug captures. Temperature data suggests that various microclimates exist throughout the cinder cone habitat at any given time. This provides the wēkiu bug with a wide range of temperatures throughout their habitat space. The ash layer appears to provide an important microclimate for the wēkiu bug, as temperatures rarely reach below freezing. The Southwest aspects of cinder cones recorded the highest maximum and lowest minimum temperatures than all other aspects. On average, the South slopes experienced slightly warmer and cooler temperatures than North slopes. We recommend that habitat restoration efforts focus on preserving 360-degree contiguous cinder cone habitats for the continued persistence of the wēkiu bug. Restoring decommissioned sites with diverse cinder substrates and ash depths can provide the insect with micro-habitats and thermal conditions that are similar to other areas on the cinder cone.

Congratulations to Rose Hart for her accomplishment and to Ryan Perroy for his mentorship
Rose Hart, recently won an "Excellent" Award at the 2017 Forum "Math-for-Industry" Conference: Responding to the Challenges of Climate Change: Exploiting, Harnessing and Enhancing the Opportunities of Clean Energy, held at UH Manoa this year, for her poster presentation, "Using small unmanned aerial systems to map shoreline change at Hapuna State Beach Park".

She has won a fully paid 2 week research trip to IMI (Institute Mathematics for Industry at Kyushu in Japan).

Congratulations to Rose!

The Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (RAMP) embarked a research expedition on NOAA Ship Hiʻialakai throughout the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument for 25 days. TCBES alumni John Burns, Keo Lopes and student Kailey Pascoe took park in the scientific party. The team visited French Frigate Shoals, Lisianski, Laysan, Pearl and Hermes, Midway and Kure Atoll to conduct various surveys including rapid ecological assessments, coral health and disease, 3D modeling benthic habitats, fish abundance and rebreather vs. scuba methodologies. All these surveys are used to better the ecological management and conservation of Papahānaumokuākea. On the way up the archipelago scientist and boat crew had the privilege to stop at Midway Atoll. John, Keo and Kailey got a chance to visit another TCBES student Kelly Goodale! She is now the wildlife biologist for U.S. Fish and Wildlife on Midway Atoll! Congratulation to all for their hard work! John, Keo, Kelly and Kailey

The TCBES club is hosting a pau hana for all graduate students, faculty, and agency partners on September 22 at 4 PM at Onekahakaha Pavilion #4. Your families are also more than welcome to join!

TCBES club will provide burgers (and veggie burgers) and condiments. We ask that everyone RSVP to plan for food count, and bring a side dish. Field games and musical instruments are also welcome!

See the attached flyer for more details. Can't wait to see you all there!

TCBES Pau Hana

TCBES alumna Kathleen Howe and TCBES and College of Pharmacy faculty Susan Jarvi have their research on rat lungworm disease featured in June 2017 New Yorker article!

Congratulations to our Summer 2017 graduate:

  • Melissa Tavares

Congratulations to our Spring 2017 graduates!!

  • James Akau
  • Ronald Kittle
  • Keolohilani Lopes
  • Ashley Morrow
  • Timothy Sullivan
  • Corie Yanger


TCBES students win Malama ʻĀina Certificate as part of the University of Hawai'i at Hilo's Ka Lama Ku Student Leadership Recognition Awards for the 2016-2017 school year. They were recognized for their collaboration and dedication in organizing the TCBES Symposium and other activities this year. Pictured are winners Erin Busch, Kailey Pascoe, Keolohilani Lopes, Jessica Kirkpatrick, and Rose Hart. Also pictured is alumnus Nathan Stevenson who was also involved in planning this year's Symposium.

Erin Busch, Kailey Pascoe, Keolohilani Lopes, Jessica Kirkpatrick, and Rose Hart, and TCBES graduate Nathan Stevenson

Congratulations to all!