Brenden Holland

Entrou: 03 de jan. de 2016 Última vez ativo: 06 de mar. de 2023 iNaturalist

The Pacific Islands can be broadly informative when considered an environmental microcosm of what is occurring on a global scale. Lessons learned in places like Hawaii, and solutions derived from ecological studies here have direct relevance to the world at large. Hawaii and other islands of the Pacific house sensitive native marine and forest ecosystems that provide critical nutrient, economic, air and water services for human populations. Native terrestrial species such as the achatinelline tree snails require native host trees for their survival, and are sensitive to the presence of established invasive species including plants, insects such as ants, predatory snails, rats, and African chameleons. Therefore forests where tree snails are present can be deemed high priority areas for focused conservation effort, as tree snails are important indicators of ecosystem health. Human populations rely directly on native rain forest for water services, as intact forest ecosystems act as upland reservoirs, capturing and slowly releasing clean water. Hawaii is notorious for its absence of native terrestrial vertebrate lineages (with the exception of birds and a single bat species), there are no native land dwelling mammals, reptiles, or amphibians. However, since the late 19th century, humans have released at least 43 species of frogs, toads lizards, and turtles, 26 of which are currently established, and all of these are predatory. Amazingly, very few studies had been conducted aimed at understanding behaviors and determining the impact of invasive reptiles and amphibians (herpetofauna) on native ecosystems, until my research group and I began to investigate the ecology of those species that have ranges which overlap with native forest.

In addition we are involved in ecological investigations of the interaction of of locals and visitors engaged in ocean recreation with stinging box jellyfish, which enter the nearshore waters of leeward Oahu in a circalunar pattern. We're interested in the ecological triggers that drive this phenomenon as well as the impact on public perception and concern.

We're also interested in the factors that influence why certain populations of rare Hawaiian tree snails are faring so much better than others, starting by testing fitness of captive populations in different species of host plants, as well as the same species of plants from different elevations. As part of this line of investigation we have started an analysis of the microbes that make up the phyllosphere of the Hawaiian rain forest using Illumina Amplicon DNA sequencing.

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