A new publication!


The seawall at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historic Park, where Kaloko fishpond is being rebuilt.

Aloha pond-lovers: Good news! The paper that resulted from my mangrove project is now published online in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. The abstract is below, but I will summarize even more succinctly here:

1) Mangrove roots decompose much more slowly in He’eia fishpond than they do in their native range

2) Mangrove invasion fundamentally changes the infaunal community– and removal changes it again. Infaunal abundances increase rapidly following removal, and…

3)… some changes in the infaunal community suggest that mangroves begin to return to a “pre-invasion” community following removal of the mangrove overstory (the canopy and prop roots above the low tide mark).

If you’re interested in reading more, send me a message and I can provide a pdf (the full version isn’t available online without a subscription to the journal).

This project involved a lot of hard work from many individuals, including Paepae o He‘eia, Laulima A ‘Ike Pono, my advisor, and my thesis committee. I can’t wait to see what excellent research comes out of fishpond managers and their collaborators in the future!

Here is the abstract:

Invasive mangrove removal and recovery: Food web effects across a chronosequence

Margaret C. Siple and Megan J. Donahue

Red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) was introduced to Hawai‘i in 1902 and has since overgrown many coastal areas in Hawai‘i, transforming nearshore sandy habitat into heavily vegetated areas with low water velocity, high sedimentation rates, and anoxic sediments. Introduced mangrove forests provide habitat for exotic spe- cies, including burrowing predators, which can exert top-down effects on benthic communities. Removal of mangrove overstory is a popular management technique, and, here, we study community change over a chronosequence of mangrove removals from 2007 to 2011, investigating infaunal community structure, crab abundance, and response to predator exclusion in the presence of mangrove overstory and along the chronosequence of removals. Overstory removal results in gradual changes in community composition con- current with slow decomposition of sedimentary mangrove biomass (k = 0.36 ± 0.06 × 10−3 d−1). Changes over time after removal include an increase in total infaunal abundance, a decrease in sub-surface deposit feeders, and an increase in suspension-feeding worms. Burrowing crab densities are uniform across mangrove and removal sites, and, unlike in native mangroves, their effects on infaunal communities are similarly negligible in both mangrove and removal areas. These results show that recovery from invasion and removal occurs gradually and is not governed by top-down effects.


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  • Mahalo Nui Loa

    I recently graduated from the Donahue Lab at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa and am currently a graduate student at the University of Washington. This research is funded by a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation, as well a scholarship from the Seattle chapter of the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation.
  • “Where do ecological ideas come from? …Most do not spring deductively from the minds of ecologists, like Athena from the head of Zeus. Instead, they emerge when ecologists absorb the essential spirit of individual places– their genius loci.”

    ~Mary V. Price & Ian Billick, "The Ecology of Place"
  • “Aloha is the intelligence with which we meet life.”

    ~Olana A'i, Kumu Hula

  • “I no longer say ‘Hawaiian ways of knowing’ anymore. Because people relegate that to the margins. ‘Ways of knowing,’ as if it’s a quaint, anthropologic way of describing something outside us. No, it’s ‘epistemology,’ the philosophy of knowledge. Land educates. ‘Ike ‘aina. The land of your birth educates you. This land here educates you.”

    ~Manu Meyer

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