Some Hawai’ian words and some ecological words recur frequently in my blog posts. For reference, here are some definitions. Feel free to leave a comment if there’s a word you don’t know. I will periodically add words.

ahupua’a – The Hawai’ian division of land, in which “pie-slices” of land were managed and cultivated by groups of people. This system reflects prolific connections between processes we may now see as disparate: agriculture, fishing, and the division of labor were tied to one another in the same area. More details on ahupua’a here.
bioturbation – the displacement or mixing of sediments by benthic organisms (can be plants, animals, protists, fungi). It influences the aeration of the sediments, changing sediment chemistry and mixing particles.
epifauna – organisms that dwell on the surface of the sediments. Examples: crabs walking on the seafloor, shrimp and some worms which feed at the surface. Epifauna can also be things living on the surface of plants, so organisms living in an algal canopy are also epifauna.
macrofauna – animals large enough to be caught on a 0.5 mm (500 µm sieve).
makaha – Sluice gates that form permeable barriers around the fishpond. There are freshwater makaha upstream, which are used to control the flow of fresh water into the pond, and makaha along the sea wall that can be opened or closed to catch fish, lure juveniles, or provide predators with an exit.
tannins – bitter, brown polyphenol compounds found in plants. They can bind and precipitate some proteins, which is why they are used for tanning leather. They also make plants less palatable, protecting them from herbivory.
taro – a root vegetable with a starchy texture and purplish color. It can be cooked alone, or used to make poi (a Hawaiian staple), as well as soups and breads. Also called kalo.

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  1. […] how you’re able to explain your work in very down-to-earth terms, and that you also have a glossary on your blog explaining the more scientific vocabulary in your posts. What is the most important thing that […]

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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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