Abbreviated Research Accomplishments

Archaeology from a Submersible

stoneHistorical accounts of off-shore fishing and methodology are documented in Hawaiian literature yet few accounts of ancient fishing grounds exist since locations were undisclosed and lost over time. A submersible dive (216 m) now provides evidence of a historical site and verification of traditional fishing techniques. A recovered artifact and photo documentation of stones scattered throughout the pinnacle distinctly fit historical descriptions of plummet (pohakialoa)and sinker stones used in bottom fishing. This paper documents the deepest substantiated pre-contact fishing site to date and substantiates reports of the ability of early Hawaiian fishers to return to fishing sites well offshore.

Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Coral Reefs

mesos_70sManipulative experiments on temperature, ocean acidification, and light as well as the synergistic effects have been conducted since the 1970. We have determined the temperature tolerances of corals, impacts of climate change on the calcification and dissolution rates and metabolic responses to corals and calcareous algae.

Proton Flux Hypothesis and Coral Metabolism Model


Long-held paradigms have been challenged with the development of these transformative new concepts that explain the mechanisms responsible for decreases in calcification under increasing acidic conditions. These are essential to the framework of coral reef responses to climate change.


Traditional vs Western Management

fishermanOver a period of many centuries Polynesians who inhabited Hawai‘i developed a carefully regulated and sustainable ahupua‘a management system that integrated watershed, freshwater and nearshore marine resources based on the fundamental linkages between all ecosystems from the mountain tops to the sea. Sophisticated social controls on resource utilization were an important component of the system. Over the past two centuries a “Western system” gradually replaced much of the traditional Hawaiian system. There has been a recent shift toward incorporating elements of the traditional scheme using methods and terminology acceptable and appropriate to present day realities. We explored the major differences and similarities between the two systems.

Invasive Algal Spread

invasive species.pngOur research on the distribution and abundance of alien algae was the first account of its spread since its introduction in the 1970’s. This historic research on the spread of invasive algae in Kāne‘ohe Bay in 1998 formed the basis for removal efforts by herbivorous urchins and through mechanical removal (Supersucker). It was the focus of a summer course Biol 403 in 2009 taught by Dr. Cindy Hunter to replicate surveys and track the extent of spread.



Research on the effects of trampling on coral reefs was the first to document quantitative impacts of trampling in Hawai‘i. This had led to development of monitoring programs to assess trampling impacts at the Hanauma Nature Preserve, O‘ahu, at Āhihi Kina‘u, Maui and at Kahalu‘u Bay, Hawai‘i.



Coral Breakage Thresholds

breakage.pngBy determining the compressive and tensile strengths of species of common reef corals, wave models were developed for Hawaiian waters. No prior data was available on breakage thresholds for any Hawaiian coral species.




Moloka‘i Atlas

Research on marine communities in south Moloka’i led to the collaborative effort with USGS to develop the first South Moloka‘i Atlas.




Historic Monuments

monument.pngExtensive surveys of the USS Arizona and USS Utah in Pearl Harbor provided the first quantitative evidence of establishment of corals.



The ‘Ahupua’a Connection

ahupuaa.pngOur lab conducted the first quantitative research demonstrating a wide scale connection between watersheds and reefs. This linkage and the statistical strength of the relationship were documented to lay the foundation for later modeling endeavors.

Past Research Projects

  • Synergistic impact of global warming and ocean acidification on calcification in shallow and deep coral reef environments. Pacific Island Climate Change Cooperative. 2011-2013.
  • Use of Coral Reef Monitoring and Biocriteria as Tools for Environmental Assessment in Hawai‘i. Environmental Protection Agency. 2011-2013.
  • Impact of land derived sediment on the coral reef ecosystem of Pelekane Bay, Hawai‘i. Hawai‘i Coral Reef Initiative. 2011.
  • Coral habitat and the use of coral by recruit reef fishes at Pelekane Bay, Hawai’i. NOAA/NMFS 2010-2012.
  • Inventory of Marine Invertebrates and Vertebrates at two units within the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. National Parks Service. 2010-2011.
  • Information Synthesis of the Āhihi Kīna‘u, Maui Area Reserve. Dept. of Land and Natural Resources 2011.
  • Understanding the Dimensions of Water in the Kahalu‘u, Hawai‘i Ahupua‘a from Mountain-to-Sea. National Science Foundation-EPSCoR. 2009-2012.
  • Quantifying Causes of Maui Coral Decline. Division of Aquatic Resources 2008-2009.
  • Biological Inventory and Assessment of the Āhihi Kīna‘u, Maui Area Reserve. Dept. of Land and Natural Resources 2009.
  • Coral Reef Health and Response of Corals to Climate Change. Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument 2008-2011.
  • Development of Coral Reef Biocriteria for Hawai‘i. Environmental Protection Agency. 2007-2009.
  • Recovery Modeling for Anthropogenic Impacts on Coral Reefs. Hawai‘i Coral Reef Initiative. 2007.
  • Cleaning Waikoko Stream: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation: Local Action Strategy. 2007-2008.
  • Human Impact Evaluation, of the Āhihi Kīna‘u, Maui Area Reserve. Dept. of Land and Natural Resources 2008.
  • South Moloka‘i Coral Reef Investigations. US Geological Survey. 2005-2007.
  • Chevron Biological Outfall Monitoring Project. 2006-present.
  • Effects on Climate Change on Ecosystem Services Provided by Hawaiian Coral Reefs Environmental Protection Agency. 2005-2008.
  • Mapping: rapid assessments, habitat analyses, ground-truthing and a quantitative estimate of “existence value” of the NWHI as determined by sophisticated socioeconomic and ecological analyses. Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
  • Mapping support developing depth-area hypsometric curves and compilation of bathymetric data of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to 30m. Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument
  • Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Ecosystem Management. Reducing Potential Impact of Invasive Marine Species in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument. Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. 2004-2007.
  • Investigation of coral recruitment in Hanalei Bay, Kaua‘i. Hanalei Watershed Hui. 1999-2005.
  • Reef Coral Communities at Pila’a Reef, Kaua‘i. Investigation documenting the impact of a severe anthropogenic stress (mud flows) and a natural event (storm waves) on a coral reef and to document the subsequent rates and patterns of reef recovery. 2002-2004. State of Hawai’i.
  • South Moloka‘i Marine Investigation. United States Geological Survey. 2001- Evaluation of reefs and identification of indicators of reef condition. EPA 2001-2005.
  • Assessment, Mapping and Monitoring of Selected “Most Impaired” Coral Reef Areas in the State of Hawai‘i. Environmental Protection Agency. 2003-2004.
  • Effects of Trampling Damage to Hawai‘i’s Coral Reefs – Hawai‘i Coral Reef Initiative and UH School of Travel Industry Management. 1998-2000.
  • Hawai‘i Coral Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (CRAMP) 1998-present.
  • 1999 Resurvey of historic “Maragos” sites in Kāne‘ohe Bay to determine status of Dictyosphaeria cavernosa, Bubble algae.
  • A Survey of the Distribution and Abundance of the Black lip Pearl Oyster, Pinctada margaritifera in Kne’ohe Bay. Black Pearls Inc.1997.
  • Mapping Distributions and measuring physical parameters of Introduced Algae in Kāne’ohe Bay.
  • Nu‘upia Pond Mangrove Removal Assessments. Kāne‘ohe Marine Corp Air Station Hawai’i. 1995-1996.
  • Determining population density of coraliovorous snail Kāne‘ohe Bay.
  • Mapping of resource use within territorial boundaries by Chaetodon multicinctus Kāne‘ohe Bay. 1994.