Professor of Botany
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
Graduate Faculty Memberships
Botany; Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology
StatementGlobal environmental change, biodiversity conservation and resilience in coupled human-natural systems. Tacking conservation problems effectively increasingly requires a multidisciplinary approach. We are collaborating with marine biologists, environmental economists, cultural anthropologists, resource managers and cultural practitioners to identify drivers of conservation and resilience in Pacific Island communities in the context of climate change. We use a ridge-to-reef approach to identify local resource use practices in both forests and coral reefs that maximize conservation and social-ecological resilience. Our work has illustrated the complex interactions between and among ecological and social drivers of resilience, and some of the trade-offs between conservation values and ecosystem services.
As a conservation biologist and ethnoecologist, my research centers on the links among local resource use, biodiversity conservation and resilience in coupled human-natural systems. Ninety percent of the world’s tropical forests lie outside of protected areas and most of these are used in some way by the people who live in and around them. My research questions revolve around two, interrelated themes: How can we balance human use and conservation? How can we maintain or increase the resilience of coupled natural –human systems to global environmental change? My students and I use a combination of approaches, integrating plant ecological monitoring and field experiments, plant population modeling, interviews with resource users, and participatory research. We collaborate with across disciplines and with conservation and cultural practitioners and local community members.
Specific areas of interest:
Plant demography and conservation: identifying the effects of multiple drivers on the long-term dynamics and viability of plant populations. We have been assessing how a range of key anthropogenic drivers, including harvest, fire, grazing, invasive species, and climate change affect plant populations at risk. Using matrix population modeling and integral
projection modeling, our work has illustrated the ways in which these
drivers may interact, and why disentangling their effects, though still
very rare to date in the literature, is critical for effective
Local and indigenous resource management practices (especially harvest of non-timber forest products - NTFP - and traditional agroforestry systems - and their implications for both biological and biocultural conservation. We study local and traditional management resource management systems and their effects on plant populations, communities and plant-animal interactions. Our work has demonstrated how and why some of these systems can be sustainable, and the ways in which biological and cultural diversity can be interlinked.
Population ecology and conservation of Native Hawaiian plants