William ‘Matt’ Cavert

PhD Candidate, UH Mānoa History

My research examines processes of environmental change under the French colonial state from 1842 to 1931. My interest spans the intersection of peoples, practices, discourses, and environments across New Caledonia, French Polynesia, and the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu). In this setting, competing interests and claims over nature in the Pacific drove and continue to drive environmental changes through the contested necessity of exploiting, conserving, or improving the environment by various means: the introduction of new plants, animals, land use patterns, resource regulations, or commercial practices. More…

Rachel Dacks

Coastal communities in the Pacific are often characterized by a history of disturbance, yet there is evidence that the use of knowledge, practice, belief systems, evolved over millennia, have allowed Pacific Island communities to become resilient in overcoming natural disasters.

My research aims to understand how social-ecological resilience varies in coastal communities in Fiji across gradients of environmental, social, and economic conditions by addressing the following overarching questions: 1) What are drivers that link human communities to the coral reefs on which they depend, how are drivers linked, and how are drivers affected by external factors, including markets?, 2) What is the role of traditional ecological knowledge in enhancing resilience and adaptive capacity, 3) How do fishing practices (e.g., gear types and target species) vary across a gradient of market integration and what are the implications for coral reef ecological resilience?, and 4) How do intra-village sharing networks of fish and other natural resources vary across a gradient of market integration. To address these questions, I work in coastal villages across Fiji, using a mixed method approach. A range of qualitative and quantitative methods are being used for analysis, including structural equation models and social network analysis.

Jade Delevaux

PhD Candidate NREM
My research focuses on modeling, mapping, and integrating land and sea dynamics into planning to sustain nearshore fisheries and foster coastal communities’ wellbeing in Hawaii and Fiji. Research findings highlights the importance of understanding the effects of land use change on coral reef ecosystems and restoring ridge-to-reef management in tropical oceanic island environments to reduce the impact of local stressors.

Katie Leimoni Kamelamela

PhD Candidate, UH Mānoa Botany
Katie Leimomi Kamelamela holds a BA & MA in Botany, as well as a BA in Hawaiian Studies, from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Her research is concerned with the collection of Non-Timber Forest Products throughout Hawaii in order to support the formation of Community Based Sustainable Forestry Areas. Her dissertation focuses on historical and contemporary plant gathering practices in the Hawaiian Islands with case study highlights of imu (underground ovens) lifestyle ways, a preliminary assessment of economic and cultural value of plants gathered in State managed Forest Reserves with understandings of online and physical market values for native and other gathered plant resources from our forests. Other projects include contributions to the Kapapala Koa Canoe Forest Cultural working group as well as supporting the Hui Malama Ola Na Iwi Native Hawaiian Healing project as a consortium member on Hawaii Island.

Natalie Kurashima

PhD Candidate, UH Mānoa Botany
Integrating ecology and archival research to inform the restoration of traditional Hawaiian agricultural systems in the face of climate change

This study works to better understand the past, present, and future ecological and social functioning of traditional Hawaiian agricultural systems to inform the restoration of a 345-acre site in Kahaluʻu, Kona, called the Kahaluʻu Field System. First, this work draws upon primary Hawaiian sources and English language records to gain a better understanding of the crops and plants grown in the Kona field system and how agroforestry systems may have functioned in the storied place of Kahaluʻu. More…

Ashley McGuigan

PhD Candidate, UH Mānoa Botany
My research interests revolve around the links between agroforests, human health, and social-ecological resilience in Fiji. I study the relationships between agroforest plant diversity, ecological functional diversity, and nutritional functional diversity and dietary intake. I also seek to identify some of the socioeconomic, cultural, and ecological drivers of a) native species conservation b) drinking water quality, and c) maintenance of indigenous and local knowledge and associated culturally important products. I use participatory research methods to understand what influences how people value food and other agroforest plant products. My goal is to use this information to help improve environmental and human health and provide policy makers critical information needed to make informed decisions on food security, and biodiversity and cultural conservation for the future of Fiji.

Puaʻala Pascua

UH Mānoa Natural Resource and Environmental Management
​Place-based and Indigenous Perspectives on Cultural Ecosystem Services

My research examines cultural ecosystem services (CES) – the non-material benefits realized through human-environmental interactions- as a means to make important socio-cultural considerations more visible in natural resource management and land-use planning, particularly in place-based and indigenous communities. Our research team developed an interdisciplinary and mixed-methods approach to: 1) outline a process for appropriately eliciting place-based and indigenous CES; 2) highlight important CES in Hawaiʻi as perceived by those with strong cultural connections to place; and 3) demonstrate how those place-based CES compare/contrast with commonly recognized CES. Our results highlight CES from a Hawaiian place-based/indigenous point of view and include services related to cultural practices, ancestral landscapes, and environmental kinship. But equally important is the process we present, which we hope will empower other researchers to accurately and appropriately identify place-based CES in their own ecosystem service assessments.

Cheryl Scarton

UH Mānoa Natural Resource and Environmental Management

My research looks for social-ecological relationships that have occurred in the history of a place. Time series data from historical qualitative and quantitative sources are being compared for relationships through time. Wetland property values are a focal resource in addition to cultural practices captured through kūpuna (elder) interview. Government representatives, social-ecological researchers and community members will be surveyed to understand how this information can help synergize goals. Extension of this research includes testing and comparing this methodology for other places

Ron Vave

PhD Candidate, UH Mānoa Marine Biology

Local communities in Fiji have established more than 400 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) around the country in the past 20 years. The purpose is largely for food security. What is rarely mentioned and elaborated on in literature is that MPAs have been established culturally for 100 nights in some parts of the country, following the burial and funeral of a loved one. These MPAs are harvested after 100 nights for a feast in memory of the deceased. Those who have witnessed such practices recall large and diverse catches. The overarching question that my research seeks to answer is “How have the cultural practice of indigenous Fijian funerals changed and how does this affect social and ecological resilience?”