People, Ponds, and Gardens

It has been about five months since I left Hawai‘i for the chilly Pacific Northwest. While I have dearly missed He‘eia fishpond, I was recently pleasantly surprised by another human-ecological structure here in the Pacific Northwest: they’re called clam gardens. They’re rock walls built along the coast by First Nations people. Tides slowly deposit sediment … Continue reading

Beads Fall Into Burrows. Can You Dig It?

While we are busying ourselves aboveground, marching around, measuring things, and generally living our terrestrial lives, there is a whole lot of activity going on beneath our feet: an underworld bristling with burrowers, both on land and at sea. This world is fascinating, and we also have a hard time truly comprehending it, or seeing … Continue reading

Invasion Ecology and Management Politics: Important Lessons From A Poorly Received Paper

Mark Davis and several of his colleagues wrote a comment in Nature this month which caught my eye, not because it is a new argument, but because it’s an old argument that drives ecologists and conservation biologists up the wall. The piece, titled “Don’t Judge Species On Their Origins,” argues that we should judge species … Continue reading

What Is An Ecosystem Engineer?

Though I use the term frequently, deciding whether an organism is an ecosystem engineer is difficult. The term “ecosystem engineer” itself is problematic: almost every organism modifies its environment in some way, and in the face of indirect effects, quantifying this modification is nearly impossible. However, this category is useful because it can help us … Continue reading

Homemaker, Lovemaker, Engineer

While they are not the most attractive of crabs, nor of interest to any fishery, Thalamita crenata, or the “blue pincher” is numerically the most dominant crab in the fishpond. I am interested in it because it seems to have no problem living in concert with the toughest invaders. Blue pinchers can be found burrowing in … Continue reading

Back To Bacteria: A “Big, Rotten Loofah”

More on the mangrove story: This Tuesday we took sediment cores from two areas where mangrove overstory (prop roots and trunks) were cut down in 2007 and 2008. In these areas, dead stumps still stick out of the mud, and a thick, fibrous root mat stabilizes the sediments. Even though the overstory was removed four … Continue reading

What’s In A Sponge?

This weekend we found a sort of sponge raft drifting along the bottom of the pond. Composed of Gracilaria and the orange sponge Mycale sp., the piece was weighed down with sediment and tiny organisms living inside. The contents included two brittle stars, several polychaete worms, a few amphipods, and some mysterious organism (pictured below). Whether the sponge … Continue reading

Old Scourge, New Questions

There are some new project developments at hand! In addition to examining invasive algal canopies, I’ve also started some preliminary work on a new structure-forming alien species: red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). Mangroves, while important nutrient sources and nursery grounds in their native habitats, are alien species in Hawai’i, with quite different effects on the native … Continue reading

  • 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