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.