David Duffy

Professor, Department of Botany

How Natural Environments Respond to Pertubations



St. John 410


(808) 956-8218


(808) 956-4710

Research Interests

My research interests vary widely by ecosystem and organism, but focus on how natural environments respond to perturbations, either natural or man-made, at scales ranging from the individual through the landscape. These responses can offer clues on how to manage or restore natural environments. I believe that science, often through simple models, can ask the right questions and help solve problems, rather than being an end to itself.

My dissertation was on the interactions of El Nino, Peruvian guano birds, fish, human fisheries and ticks. I then worked on seabirds and fish in Southern Africa and Galapagos and, with Aaron Hebshi, here in Hawai`i.

A stay in Athens, Georgia got me interested in understory herbs in the Great Smokey Mountains. A job in New York had me investigating why we had made the Northeast such a great place for deer, white-footed mice, and the deer tick, all ingredients of the Lyme disease cycle.

Most recently in both Alaska and Hawaii, heavy administrative demands on my time have conspired to make most of my research vicarious, done with teams or with grad students. In Alaska I led a group that examined why seabirds failed to recover from the oil spill of the Exxon Valdez, while another effort examined how much of Alaska's biodiversity was contained in its protected areas. I have continued to be involved in a study of the winter migration of Arctic and Aleutian Terns and their relation to oceanographic features.

In Hawai`i, I have become interested in how conservation works and whether it is at the right scales in time and space to make a difference and how science fits into it. I've written reviews of seabird management and conservation science in the islands, and an examination of the invasive species committees, a uniquely Hawaiian creation. I was also principal investigator of a biocomplexity project on avian malaria, examining whether new approaches to science might yield answers to the biggest threat to the islands' endangered forest birds.

Hawai`i doesn't lack for problems, and I continue to be interested in seabirds, emerging diseases, and landscapes, here and elsewhere.

Selected Publications

Duffy. 2010. Changing seabird management in Hawai'i: From exploitation through management to restoration. Waterbirds 33: 193-207.

Kraus and Duffy. 2010. A successful model from Hawaii for rapid response to invasive species. Journal for Nature Conservation 18: 135-141.

Ahumada, Samuel, Duffy, Dobson, and Hobbelen. 2009. Modeling the epidemiology of avian malaria and pox in Hawaii. In Pratt et al. (eds.). Hawaiian Forest Birds: Their Biology and Conservation. Yale University Press, New Haven. pp. 331-355.