TCBES Professional Internship Reports

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    Monitoring the Hawaiian Monk Seal Population on Hawaiʻi Island
    (2021-05) Villalobos, Carmelita I.; Canale, Lisa K.; Van Heukelem, Lauren
    This internship focused on maintaining and supporting the growth of the Hawaiian monk seal population on Hawaiʻi island. The Hawaiian monk seal (Neomonachus schauinslandi) is endemic to the Hawaiian Archipelago and is the only pinniped found in Hawaiian waters (The Marine Mammal Center 2021). Unfortunately, they were historically hunted to near extinction (Kenyon & Rice), causing them to be listed as “endangered” under the US Endangered Species Act in 1976 (Gerrodette & Gilmartin 1990; Gilmartin et al. 1993; Baker & Johanos 2003). Although numbers are increasing, current estimations put the population at 1,400 individuals (Baker & Johanos 2003). Anthropogenic factors including fisheries interactions, disease, and intentional killings have all continued to prevent the population from making a healthy comeback (Gerrodette & Gilmartin 1990; Baker & Johanos 2003; Baker et al. 2011). The purpose of my internship with Ke Kai Ola was to help protect the Hawaiian monk seal population on Hawaiʻi island by monitoring the population and educating the public on their importance. Currently, only 10 Hawaiian monk seals are known to frequent Hawaiʻi island but thanks to the support of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, whose partnership and approval makes the work of The Marine Mammal Center and Ke Kai Ola possible, the population has been slowly growing since the early 2000s. The work presented in this report describes the ways that Ke Kai Ola monitors the Hawaiian monk seal population on Hawaiʻi island and educates the public on various subjects pertaining to the importance of their preservation.
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    Expanding the capacity for the preservation and restoration of native forest habitats on the Island of Hawaiʻi
    (2021-05) Maʻa, Sebastian A.W.; Canale, Lisa K.; Miura, Lisa K.; Ostertag, Rebecca
    As the native forests of Hawaiʻi Island continue to face new threats in the form of invasive species, destructive pathogens such as Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD), and stochastic events, the need for island-wide native forest rehabilitation continues to intensify. To address these ecologic and anthropogenic issues, the County of Hawaiʻi Real Property Tax Division has expanded its Native Forest Dedication Program to provide private landowners with reduced property tax rates for dedicating their land to native forest, functional forest, or successional forest land-use designations. With Native Forest Bill 178 being recently signed into law, ordinance number 20-60 establishes a dedication process for forest preservation and restoration for private property owners who have a minimum of 2.75 acres of contiguous native forest habitat. To support this new legislation, through the work of my professional internship, new resources were created to maximize enrollment rates and the success of the individuals who are participating in this community-based native forest restoration program. Examples of the new resources created specifically for this new legislation include a native, non-native/non-invasive plant species list and an accompanying plant nursery list, a management plan template that allows landowners to develop management plans without the help of a certified natural resource management professional, and an evaluation checklist that the county will use to evaluate management plans. This new legislation, which is the first of its kind in the State of Hawaiʻi, facilitates community-based native forest restoration projects by increasing multi-stakeholder participation in the active care and management of native forest habitats throughout the County of Hawaiʻi.
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    The contribution of lead contamination sites to childhood lead poisoning in the Hawaiian Islands
    (2021-05) Grimmett, Geoffrey M.; Canale, Lisa K.; Felton, Diana; Ingalls, Kacey; Hoffman, Kelly
    This internship was in conjunction with the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health’s (HDOH) Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response (HEER) Office with the overall goal of the project being to improve the understanding of the geographic distribution of childhood lead poisoning in Hawaiʻi to inform childhood lead poisoning prevention efforts. The internship included the collection and mapping of blood lead data from the years 2015-2019 and environmental pollution data, such as lead contaminated sites, to help identify potential sources of lead exposure. These data were then analyzed to identify relationships between elevated blood lead levels (EBLLs) and factors such as distance from nearest site, lead concentration value at nearest site, and their interaction. The results of this analysis support the idea that most childhood exposures to lead in Hawaiʻi occur in the household. This report goes into more detail about the work described above and reflects on how this internship has benefitted both my mentor agency and myself.
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    Shifting into the new normal: invasive species outreach in the age of COVID-19
    (2021-05) Lopez, Kawehi M.K.; Canale, Lisa K.; Brewer, Franny K.
    Hawaiʻi is home to a significant variety of native endemic plant and animal species that are found nowhere else in the world. Many of these unique organisms are threatened or critically endangered. Invasive species are introduced to Hawaiʻi either on purpose or inadvertently, and cause a range of negative impacts once established. The Big Island Invasive Species Committee works islandwide to prevent, detect, and control the establishment and spread of invasive species that threaten the environment, economy, and way of life on Hawaiʻi island. Effectively addressing the widespread impacts of invasive species on a mostly rural island requires active public engagement in invasive species detection and control efforts. The Big Island Invasive Species Committee has traditionally focused on public outreach through providing community workshops and educational opportunities in a face-to-face environment, but the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to these valuable in-person events. However, it also presented an increased opportunity to engage the public in digital spaces. The work described in this report outlines three projects that I worked on, representing the methods of video production, graphic design, and social media content marketing. The work that I completed during my professional internship proved to be invaluable for many reasons, but most uniquely, because it centered on building trust and credibility with the public during these unprecedented times.
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    Surveying the Oregon Coast: Work in conservation and preservation of estuarine systems
    (2021-05) Norrbom, Sarah J.; Canale, Lisa K.; Enz, Tamara
    This internship project involved working with Tillamook Estuaries Partnership (TEP) as a professional intern from September 2020 to April 2021. This project consisted of mapping various species of vegetation, fish, and other wildlife in Tillamook County, collecting seeds for the Seeds of Success (SOS) program, monitoring water quality of Sand Lake estuary, and creating GIS information on potential future restoration work in Tillamook County’s estuaries. These projects were meant to provide baseline data to better understand the ecological functions of Tillamook County’s estuaries and anticipate data needs for future habitat restoration projects.
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    Sustainable Management of Alaska’s Kenai River Chinook Salmon in its Economic, Cultural, and Scientific Contexts
    (2020-12) Malone, Wilson L.; Canale, Lisa K.; Begich, Robert
    This internship focuses on Alaska’s Kenai River salmon populations. The role consists of working as a Fish and Wildlife Technician II for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Responsibilities included operating a research boat on the river as part of the in-river test netting project, working on a creel survey crew, and other research projects as needed. This project provides data on the adult returns of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), such as catch rates, age, and genetic composition used to manage the fishery. Age-structured data is used in models to predict future returns of Chinook salmon, which provides valuable insight into the population’s health and long-term trends. Genetic comparison enables sub-population management of the Chinook salmon. Creel surveys are designed to monitor sport fishing harvest rates and connect the fishery’s social and scientific aspects. The Chinook salmon population is maintained under the principle of sustained yield. Recent declines in this population’s numbers and size have caused problems for the management of the population. Political strife caused by allocation decisions complicates management decisions. The salmon populations in this region are significant economically and socially and form a large portion of local culture and identity. Efforts to maintain economically important salmon species are essential for the region’s economy and social fabric. This position contributes directly to that goal. Through this position, partial requirements of the Master’s of Science in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science internship track have been fulfilled.
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    Invasive Plants Species Management and Lowland Wet Forest Restoration in Hawai′i
    (2020-05) Irish, Amanda R; Canale, Lisa K.; Ostertag, Rebecca; DiManno, Nicole; Uowolo, Amanda; Cordell, Susan; Meehan, Kristin
    This paper reports on two professional internships conducted as part of the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science M.S. Professional Internship program. The first was with the Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC) learning about data and the metrics involved in capturing the effectiveness of control treatments. The second was working as the field crew leader with Liko Nā Pilina, a hybrid ecosystem restoration research project. These two internship opportunities were chosen based on my personal and professional interest in better understanding the landscape of invasive species management efforts.
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    Assessing re-attachment potential and the large-scale aquaculture feasibility of native Hawaiian macroalgae
    (2021-05) Anderson, Jordyn; Canale, Lisa K.; McDermid, Karla; Martin, Keelee
    My internship contains two aspects, with the overarching theme of working to better understand native Hawaiian macroalgae, and how these species can be utilized. At the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, my experiments explored the likelihood of different sized fragments of native Hawaiian algae to reattach to substrate. Even though significant differences were not found among size groups, results from this study show the value of understanding the ability of different species to attach to substrata. This knowledge can aid in out planting measures to repopulate our nearshore ecosystems with viable populations of the native plant species they once held. With Ocean Era, my internship focused on practical skills commonly utilized in the aquaculture industry, as well as an understanding of the feasibility of large-scale growth of native Hawaiian species of macroalgae. By performing weekly upkeep activities and a number of smaller projects that arose sporadically, I came to understand the realities of work within this field. Both of these projects contribute to the broader understanding of native Hawaiian species of macroalgae, a group which is threatened by invasive species and changing ocean conditions. Through these projects and internships, I was able to fulfill the requirements for a Master of Science in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Sciences.
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    Addressing the issue of marine debris through restoration and advocacy with Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund
    (2021-12) Stone, Michael D.; Canale, Lisa K.; Lamson, Megan R.
    Michael’s graduate internship project involved working over 700 hours with Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund as a professional intern from October 2019 to October 2021. Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization devoted to the conservation and preservation of the unique coastal and marine wildlife species of the Hawaiian Islands. During this internship, he was able to assist both the Hawai‘i and Maui-based HWF teams. On Hawai‘i Island, he assessed the environmental issues of plastic waste leading to marine debris while developing solutions to address this global threat to our ocean resources and marine biodiversity. Furthermore, Michael conducted fieldwork, research, and spoke to experts on the issues to better understand the severity of marine debris impacting the state of Hawai‘i and its coastal habitats. On Maui, he assisted with various projects, all of which helped to bring awareness and education to preserving marine wildlife. The work conducted during this professional internship has been crucial in my development as a professional in the field of conservation biology. He was on the front lines in the battle for conservation, collecting marine debris derelict fishing gear, conducting surveys, collecting data, building fences, going door-to-door advocating for light pollution reduction, presenting to public and college audiences, engaging in conversations with residents and tourists about the threats impacting native wildlife. Michael has become familiar with the realities of professional nonprofit fieldwork, and being a part of a team with a common goal. Furthermore, resulting in assistance to the community of Hawai‘i in combating the issues that impact the delicate ecosystems.
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    Speaking Out for Conservation at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
    (2020-05) Flint, John T.; Canale, Lisa K.; McDaniel, Kūpono
    The professional internship discussed in this report took place at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. For the duration of the project, I worked with the Interpretation Department as a ranger in the Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP) program. The purpose of the Interpretation Department is to guide guests through the park, answer their questions, educate visitors about the parks natural and cultural resources, and help them have a pleasant experience during their visit. In addition to these duties, I also created a new ranger hike activity meant to inspire participants to join their local conservation efforts when they return home. I incorporated persuasive strategies into the event, such as the use of increasing social revenue, creation of positive experiences, and the display of messages that discussed the benefits of conservation for wildlife and people to broaden its appeal. I also included an ‘ōlelo chant (traditional Hawaiian chant) to engage the guests and make a lasting impact. The scripts for my tours were recorded and saved in Google Docs, and feedback from audiences were presented in my daily journal, which discussed my observations of the audiences’ reception of my talks. I also created the draft of a new Volunteers-In-Parks Handbook for Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.
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    Characterizing the Acalolepta aesthetica Invasion in Hawai‘i
    (2020-12) Curbelo, Keena M; Canale, Lisa K.; Sim, Sheina B.
    This internship project encompassed my work on the Queensland Longhorned Beetle (Acalolepta aesthetica), a newly established pest species on Hawai‘i island. The larvae have been documented in cacao, breadfruit, kukui, and various citrus trees. Due to the detrimental impact of this pest to both agriculturally and culturally important plant species, understanding both the developmental biology and genotypic diversity is crucial. Analysis of mitochondrial haplotypes in a subset of the beetle population on Hawai‘i island shows no mitochondrial haplotype diversity which supports the theory that the founding population was derived from the offspring of one female. Through establishment of both a reporting pipeline as well as a rearing colony, we hope to develop effective trapping methods.
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    A healthy land produces a healthy people: the importance of pilina (relationship) with place and community through ʻāina education for a more sustainable future
    (2020-05) Dudley, M. Leilā; Canale, Lisa K.; Peralto, Noʻeau; Kailiehu, Haley K.
    Hui Mālama i Ke Ala ʻŪlili (huiMAU) is a community-based grassroots non-profit organization started by lineal descendants of Paʻauilo with a passion to return to their ancestral lands and in doing so bring back a sense of community as well as abundance to their lands and people. The objectives of my work with huiMAU was to principally help our communities with building pilina (relationship) to place and one another. The way I went about this was through place-based and Hawaiian-cultural centered educational initiatives primarily focused in mālama ʻāina (land restoration) work and ancestral Hawaiian practices at our Koholālele work site. My work changed everyday, but the bulk of it centered in helping to host groups at our Koholālele work site and on some days at our KaHua work site. I also helped to piece together the microbe story of Paʻauilo by collecting fresh and saltwater samples in and around these sites to help huiMAU staff understand baseline data with water quality as an indicator of ahupuaʻa health in this region of Hāmākua Hikina (east Hāmākua). This microbe story may help us find connections between the microbes present or absent throughout the year and the arrival of different species such as the koholā (humpback whales) and the kōlea (Pacific golden-plover) as well as various environmental conditions including Poliʻahu (snow), winter storms, and drought. The water sampling and associated microbe analysis will serve as a way to assess the restoration work that we have been conducting as well as overall ahupua’a (small traditional land division) and ecosystem health. My project supported huiMAU and made more time available for huiMAU directors to focus on other aspects of the organization. In working with huiMAU I learned that to be able to care for a place, we need to first become intimate with that place, its history, its stories, its place names, its important characteristics, its plant and animal people, its winds and rains and become familiar with its many faces throughout different seasons. As a part of my internship, I also delved into ethnographic research of Makahanaloa, the ahupuaʻa I live in, to be able to first and foremost understand my home and additionally helped to generate ideas on how to best form a community-based grassroots organization, similar to that of huiMAU, but instead for the people and land of Makahanaloa located in the former sugar plantation town of Pepeʻekeo. Place and cultural-based education can have significant positive impacts on student achievement and well-being, student and teacher involvement in their communities, and can help increase overall community and ecosystem health. With Hawaiʻi being home to one of the most resilient indigenous communities with an ever-ongoing culture that can adapt to the many changes to come, centering education in place and its people is the best way to lead our communities to a point of thriving and becoming one with the land and one another. Through my University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Sciences (TCBES) internship, I was able to fulfill my objective of learning how to engage with community as we do at huiMAU, and also learning about and implementing different techniques to carry out ʻāina education and various ways to assess restoration impact. In addition, I have learned that the interaction between people and culture is of utmost importance in returning a pono balance to ʻāina (land, that which feeds) rather than the typical western view of conservation with minimal human/ʻāina interaction.
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    Pacific Aquaculture & Coastal Resource Center: Creating the Children’s Learning Center and gaining experience with aquaculture practices
    (2020-05) DeVivo, Samantha M.; Canale, Lisa K.; Haws, Maria C.; Gamiao, Sydney K.
    My University of Hawai‘i at Hilo professional internship with the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science (TCBES) program was based at the Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center (PACRC) located in Keaukaha on the island of Hawaiʻi. The facility’s long-term goals are to provide infrastructure for world-class aquaculture and marine science programs at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and to support commercial aquaculture, fisheries, and conservation. PACRC promotes excellence and innovation in interdisciplinary scientific research, public policy initiatives, outreach activities, and education. At PACRC, I gained valuable aquaculture experience as I served as an intern in live feeds production and in the bivalve hatchery. I assisted in the day-to-day functions needed for the successful husbandry of various species of oysters, microalgae, and rotifers. Knowledge of how aquatic systems work is an essential skill for someone in my academic career path, and learning the techniques taught at PACRC will benefit me greatly in my future endeavors. During my professional internship, I also worked on the Children’s Learning Center project, aiding in the renovation and transition of PACRC’s pavilion space into a new Children’s Learning Center facility. I directly helped in the renovation process while also creating educational resources that will be used in the space once it is completed. I worked alongside my mentors Dr. Maria Haws and Sydney Gamiao involving community outreach and planning for the future use of the Children’s Learning Center while also briefly teaching an after-school program in the unfinished space. Overall, this professional internship provided me hands-on aquaculture experience while also exposing me to education and outreach opportunities.
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    Saving Hawaiʻi Island’s Remaining Forest Birds
    (2020-05) Bischer, Alexander; Canale, Lisa K.; Wang, Alex X.
    This internship was in conjunction with the Hawaiʻi Natural Area Reserve System (NARS) endangered forest bird team to assist with the 2019 Palila release at Puʻu Mali Restoration Area and several other ongoing conservation projects. The Palila (Loxioides bailleui) is an endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper that is currently only found on the southwestern slope of Mauna Kea at elevations above 6,500 meters. Captive birds were released in the spring and summer of 2019 to the Puʻu Mali Restoration Area, on the northern slope of Mauna Kea, with the end goal of creating a second sustainable population for the endangered Palila. Post release monitoring techniques and predator control methods were used to give the released birds the best shot at surviving in an area that has not housed Palila in roughly two decades. The Palila is just one of the many Hawaiian forest birds that are suffering extreme habitat and population loss in wake of global climate change. The work described in this report showcases a few of the conservation efforts and strategies that are currently ongoing to save the remaining native Hawaiian forest birds.
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    Monitoring of the Critically Endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Honu ʻea) on Hawaiʻi Island
    (2020-12) Meagher, Kelsey M.; Canale, Lisa
    One of the requirements of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science graduate program’s professional internship track is the successful completion of a 600-hour internship. My professional internship with the Hawai‘i Island Hawksbill Project started May 12, 2019, and ended August 18, 2019. Hawksbills (Eretmochelys imbricata) are a Critically Endangered species worldwide. Monitoring of the female nesting population and protecting their nest from predators is essential to ensuring that this species will continue to thrive. This internship required hiking up to 12 miles long, over rugged lava terrain, while carrying a 30-pound-plus backpack filled with personal and field equipment. The treks were necessary to reach remote beaches for monitoring the nesting behavior of the hawksbill sea turtle. Public outreach is the foremost principle of this project because outreach brings the awareness needed to motivate the island community to join and assist in protecting this vulnerable species.
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    Striving Towards a Career in Watershed Management
    (University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, 2020-05) Goodoni, Maya K.; Canale, Lisa K.
    My graduate experience in the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science Professional Internship track consisted of participating in separate projects with The Nature Conservancy and Three Mountain Alliance. The majority of the graduate program allowed me to gain hands-on experience in working in both terrestrial and coastal ecosystems collecting data, restoring native ecosystems, analyzing data, and writing data reports. The first project, guided by The Nature Conservancy, consisted of researching the nitrogen isotopes of macroalgae within Kīholo Bay, analyzing the data, and writing a report. The purpose of this macroalgae project was to research how the nitrogen from kiawe trees (Prosopis pallida) and feral goat (Capra hircus) feces influence the growth of marine macroalgae. The results indicated that the nitrogen from kiawe trees and goat feces influences the growth of marine macroalgae. According to the nitrogen values, I was able to infer that Kīholo Bay was not polluted with excess nitrogen. The second project was a nine-month internship with Three Mountain Alliance, which is a watershed partnership located within Volcanoes National Park. My tasks with Three Mountain Alliance mainly consisted of conducting data collections of native and non-native vegetation within planting sites and reporting that data. Also, inputting previously collected bird and ungulate data, and writing up reports for various partner organizations. I completed other tasks with Three Mountain Alliance that induced creativity, such as making a plant guide for one of their restoration areas and making a digital display of vegetation photo points. The most significant skill sets I gained from these experiences were learning how to effectively collect data in terrestrial and marine ecosystems, as well as analyzing and reporting the data I collected. Overall, I gained more confidence in myself, as well as a professional manner that I carry with me every day. I also became inspired to further my education by learning more about environmental policy to make more influential changes in my community.