Home » Teaching at UH West O’ahu (Page 2)

Category Archives: Teaching at UH West O’ahu

Animal Regeneration: The Magical Planaria

This week in my intro bio class, we are learning about the regenerative capabilities that some animals exhibit. For example, many species of lizard are able to lose their tail to a predator and regrow it over the course of several weeks/months (though it will regrow with cartilage instead of bone). Salamanders are even capable of regrowing an entire limb, bone and all.

planarium2

Planaria prior to cutting (left), and after regeneration (right)

My personal favorite, though, are planaria.  These flatworms can regenerate their entire body from 1/279th of their total tissue. That means you can cut a single half-inch-long planaria into TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY NINE pieces, and each one will regenerate a whole, fully functional planaria in a few weeks. You can cut them in half and the head end will grow a new tail and the tail end will grow a new head. You can cut them lengthwise and the right side will grow a new left and the left side will grow a new right. You can even cut them lengthwise just through the head end, and it will grow two full heads! You can do the same through the tail end and end up with a two-tailed planaria. If you’re really good with a scalpel, you could even make your very own Lernaean Hydra, to fight a very tiny Hercules.

Before you can marvel at the regenerative capabilities of LIVE planaria in your very own biology classroom, though, we have to get our hands on some. So today, UHWO lab manager Carrie Tome and I headed over to Sumida Farm to collect some! Sumida is a 10-acre watercress farm tucked between Kamehameha Highway and the Pearlridge Mall in Aiea, which by itself supplies 70% of Hawaii’s watercress.

 

The watercress doesn’t grow in soil, but rather in rocky beds submerged in spring water from the nearby Pearl Harbor Spring. It is in the rocky pools surrounding the watercress that Carrie and I harvested the planaria. It was surprisingly easy to find them. You could pick up any little rock in the pools and it would likely have a few planaria stuck to the underside. We just gently washed them into a tub to bring back to campus. I took a couple pictures of them in their new homes because they are just so cute! I mean, look at those eye spots – they’re like little cartoon worms!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tomorrow in class, we will… uh… surgically alter them, and then come back next week to see how much has regenerated. Check back here for some cool before-and-after pictures!

UHWO Service Learning: Kalaeloa Heritage Park

This weekend, my intro biology and intro botany students at UH West O’ahu completed their first service learning event at Kalaeloa Heritage Park, an archaeological site and wahi pana (sacred place) managed and protected by the Kalaeloa Heritage and Legacy Foundation. The 77 acres that make up Kalaleoa Heritage Park contains 177 recorded cultural sites. A six-acre section housing 51 documented archaeological features is being prepared as an educational park which will eventually be open to the public. Our role is to restore the vegetation of the park to represent the flora that was present when the site was occupied and eradicate the invasive vegetation that has encroached on the park.

Prior to the restoration, Shad Kane took the students on a tour of the park, including the eleven primary archaeological features which will form the focus of the park when it is open to the public. Shad emphasized to the students that the story of the Kalaeloa residents is one of the farmer, the fisherman, and the gatherer, not one of chiefs or royals. The entire ‘Ewa Plain (stretching from Pearl Harbor west to Wai‘anae) including Kalaeloa Heritage Park is emerged coral reef which has fossilized and covered with a thin layer of soil. Consequently, the archaeological features are built of coral ‘rocks’ excavated from the surrounding area and suggest a Tahitian origin due to the prevalence of upright stones in the construction.

The features include:

  • Sinkholes in the coral which access an extensive underground river of freshwater.  Sinkholes were used for agriculture (plants could be planted inside the sinkhole to access the water), drinking water, or burial sites. Some of the sinkholes were large enough to have stairwells carved into them and open into large underground chambers.
  • Storage structures in which food (such as salt fish) and other goods (including bird feathers) were stored.
  • Other burial structures (not in sinkholes) called ‘ahu, which also served as places of personal prayer.
  • Portions of the Kualaka’i Trail which served to link inland resources (for example, kalo fields) with shoreline fishing grounds. The trail was documented in early maps of Hawaii, including the well-known maps published in 1825 from surveys performed by Royal Navy Lt. Malden of the HMS Blonde.
  • The largest feature of the 6-acre park is a partially rebuilt gathering and meeting room. The floor of the structure includes a natural raised coral platform in the center, which overlays at least two large underground caves. Shad emphasized that since this was not the home of a chief, the structure is not a true heiau (temple) but was clearly a structure of importance to the residents.

Not all of the features of the park are ancient. The Kalaeloa Heritage Park grounds were once owned by the United States Navy, and still today abut the Kalaeloa Airport with frequent military traffic. In 1949, a training exercise resulted in the crash of a 3-man plane, killing the men on board. Portions of the wreckage are still visible, and the heritage park plans to erect a memorial to honor the men.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our restoration efforts at Kalaeloa this semester marked a first for the UHWO crew – we’re experimentally testing a new planting methodology! During their travels to Australia over winter break, Drs. Frank Stanton (recently retired from Leeward Community College), and Evelyn Cox (our own UHWO head of Math and Science) read about a new methodology of planting plants as deep down as possible, covering even significant portions of the stem underground (called ‘long-stem planting’). The standard protocol for planting has been to keep the stem above-ground to prevent rotting or infiltration by bacteria/fungus into the stem tissue, which could kill the plant. Recent articles have documented success with the long-stem approach, attributing the success to increased root area through adventitious roots arising from the now-underground stem and increased depth of initial roots, allowing the plant to more readily access deeper soil water pools.

The method has met with apparent success for a variety of Australian species and habitats, so we are now trying it with Hawaiian restoration. Since we are scientists, Bruce Koebele (our resident propagation expert) developed paired trials of two different species to test the relative success of the two methods at Kalaeloa. Students from Leeward Community College will plant additional pairs (replication!!!!!) at Kalaeloa later this month.

Experimental Plantings
‘A’ali’i, ah-ah-lee-ee (Dodonaea viscosa): one of my personal favorites, due to its pretty red fruits (though they are not always this bright) and its reputation for bending without breaking. This second trait led to the use of ‘a’ali’i as a description of a person who is strong, resilient, or loyal. This was our first time planting ‘a’ali’i at Kalaeloa. Previously, it was thought that the plant did not exist in this region, but recent pollen analyses of the nearby Ordy Pond indicate that the species did reside in this area.

0811151621a

Fruits of the ‘a’ali’i (taken in Volcanoes National Park, Hawai’i)

Ko’oloa’ula, koh-oh-loh-uh-ooh-luh (Abutilon menziesii): another first for our plantings at Kalaeloa, this endangered shrub is actually often used in landscaping.

In the photos below, green flags represent long-stem plantings and pink flags represent traditional plantings. I hope to revisit the site with Bruce throughout the semester to see how the plants progress.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Traditional Restoration Plantings
We supplemented our experimental planting with additional plantings in the traditional manner:

Kou, koh (Cordia subcordata) This native, though not endemic, tree was once thought to be a Polynesian introduction; however, recent excavations on Kaua’i uncovered fossilized kou seeds which pre-date Polynesian settlement of the islands indicating this plant is native to the islands. Ko will make an important contribution to the park as a shade tree (the only other large trees planned for the park are wiliwili, which drop their leaves in the summer and so do not make amazing shade trees).

Naio, nye-oh (Myoporum stellatum) This rare endemic shrub is found only in Kalaeloa and Nanakuli, and may soon be found only in Kalaeloa.  Despite being quite rare, naio is only listed as ‘at-risk.’ It was sometimes substituted for ‘iliahi during the sandalwood trade, giving it the unfortunate nickname of ‘bastard sandalwood.’

Maiapilo, mye-uh-pee-loh (Capparis sandwichiana) This endemic shrub is named for its stinky (‘pilo’ means a swampy or otherwise unpleasant smell) and banana-shaped (‘maia’ is the name for banana) fruits.  Maiapilo are closely related to capers and are federally listed as ‘at-risk.’  In early excavation at KHP, Shad discovered wild maiapilo already growing in the area, indicating our little plants will do well here. Maiapilo also attract birds to eat the seeds, which will not only spread more maiapilo plants, but will also contribute to a healthy ecosystem in the park.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our goal at Kalaeloa (and all our service learning sites) is to not only plant native and endemic plants, but also to remove introduced and invasive plants from the region. In addition to the plantings, the students cleared a section of the park of golden crown beard (Verbesina encelioides), and tackled a particularly large sourbush (Pluchea carolinensis).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As always, I also like to take some time to visit our past plantings. Kalaeloa has a number of particularly good examples of our little plants just loving their new homes. It makes me so happy to see plants I recognize from previous semesters and see them thriving months and years later. A couple of the comparison photos below also show how successful our eradication efforts have been by the lack of invasive grasses in the background. It’s such clear visual evidence that the work we’re doing at these sites is really making a difference.

 

 

 

 

UHWO Botany Students Propagate Native Hawaiian Plants for Habitat Restoration

Each semester, my intro biology and intro botany students at UH West O’ahu participate in service learning events at sites throughout the Ewa Plain and the leeward coast of O’ahu. New this semester, my botany students also get to learn about growing and caring for native Hawaiian plants by propagating their own cutting, which will be planted later this semester at Piliokahe Beach.

Today, Bruce Koebele (who coordinates all of our service learning events, and who manages his own website dedicated to native Hawaiian plant propagation and care) visited my botany class to walk us through the steps for propagating cuttings of three endemic Hawaiian plants.

Media Matters

0126160958e

Top to bottom: peat moss, perlite, black cinder

Our first step was to prepare a suitable potting media. We used a 1:1:1 mix of peat moss, perlite, and black cinder. This mix combines the water retention capabilities of the peat moss with the physical integrity (ie lack of decomposition) and aeration/drainage capabilities of the perlite. The black cinder provides the local ‘flavor’ of volcanic rock. Though it is not totally clear why, endemic Hawaiian plants seem to propagate better with the inclusion of cinder in the potting media. We filled a standard small plastic plant pot with the potting media and then thoroughly soaked it in water to prepare for planting.

The Plants
Bruce brought three plants for us: pohuehue (Ipomea pes-caprae subsp. brasiliensis) ‘akulikuli (Sesuvium portulacastrum), and pau o’hi’iaka (Jacquemontia ovalifolia subsp sandwicensis). All three of these plants are endemic to Hawai’i (meaning they are found only in the Hawaiian Islands) and are common in coastal habitats, making them ideal for planting at the Piliokahe Beach dune ecosystem.

0126161025.jpg

Left to Right: Cuttings of pa’u o hi’iaka, ‘akulikuli, and pohuehue

Preventing disease in new cuttings is important. Even relatively resilient plants are more susceptible to disease when you’ve cut them open for a while. Consequently, our potting media was pasteurized and sterilized, and the cuttings themselves were washed before being planted. Once everything was all clean, the students trimmed leaves from the stem to provide underground support and cut the stem at a node. The fresh-cut stem was then dipped in a rooting hormone to encourage the cuttings to develop roots. Plants were then planted in the media-filled pots, and topped with a plastic water bottle. The water bottle protects the plant from desiccation until it is able to develop enough of a root system to support its water needs.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

0126161103a

‘akulikuli, Day 1

Since we are scientists, we will also be tracking the growth of the plants from now until we plant them at Piliokahe Beach. My plant, the little ‘akulikuli shown at right, is currently approximately 13 centimeters tall, and proudly sports 62 leaves. At this point, we can be certain there is no root growth. In the future, the presence of new stem growth and new leaves will indicate sufficient root growth to support new above-ground growth; however, we obviously will not uproot the plant to measure root growth. Each week, the students and I will re-photograph our plants and document any changes in height or leaf number and any other notes on the health of our plants. I have full confidence that we will experience 100% survivorship and that all our little ‘akulikuli, pohuehue, and pa’u o hi’iaka will soon get to start their new lives on a dune at Piliokahe Beach.

UHWO Service Learning: Piliokahe Beach

This weekend, UH West O’ahu biology students met at Piliokahe (Tracks) Beach to restore dune ecosystems, including removing invasive species, and planting native and endemic plants. This service learning is part of an ongoing project at Piliokahe which also includes volunteers from Malama Learning Center.

As always, our first step was to remove invasive plants from the area. The dunes at Piliokahe are primarily overrun with buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) which is native to Africa and was introduced to Hawai’i as fodder for cattle in the 1800s. Buffel grass overtakes native plants by altering the fire regime of the ecosystem. Following a fire, buffel grass is able to more quickly repopulate the area as opposed to the native plants which are not well-adapted to fire. The dunes also have many kiawe trees – while we do not have the tools to remove full-grown trees, we did remove any fallen branches. And, as is common for any public beach, there is a frustrating amount of human trash, which we also cleared from our area.

1121150835b

UHWO students clear invasive plants from the dune

After we cleared the area, Bruce introduced us to the plants we would use to restore the dune.

Pau o’hi’iaka pah-ooh-oh-hye-eee-ah-ka (Jacquemontia ovalifolia subsp sandwicensis) The Hawaiian name of this endemic vine translates as ‘the skirt of Hi’iaka’ – the vine is said to have protected Hi’iaka, the infant sister of the volcano goddess Pele, from the harsh Hawaiian sun as she lay on the beach while Pele was fishing. The vine produces rather pretty thick green leaves and small bluish purple flowers, which resemble a skirt. Pa’u-o-hi’iaka readily spreads throughout the dunes, and mature plants can be seen in many of the restored areas in the photos below.

Pohinahina, poh-hee-nah-hee-nah (Vitex rotundifolia) This native shrub gets its name from its tendency to fall over (pohina) as it grows taller and from the silvery-gray (hinahina) hairs that protect it from the sun. It is native to Hawai’i, but also found in Japan, India and many other Pacific islands.

‘Akulikuli, ah-coo-lee-coo-lee (Sesuvium portulacastrum) This native shrub is common in coastal areas, marshes, lagoons, and rocky shorelines and can grow directly out of exposed coral beds. It is so well-adapted to shore life that it can take up moisture directly from sea-spray off the ocean, despite the salt content of this water source. ‘Akulikuli bears a strong physical resemblance to the invasive pickleweed, and the two are sometimes confused.This plant is also edible – the small, succulent leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.

Mau’u aki aki, mah-ooh-ah-kee-ah-kee (Fimbristylis cymosa) Aki aki is the Hawaiian name for grass, although this native plant is actually a sedge. While native to Hawai’i, mau’u aki aki is also found throughout the Pacific islands. The spiky leaves of the plant can make it a deterrent to invasive pests such as slugs, snails, and feral cats.

Dwarf Naupaka, noh-pah-kah (Scaevola coriacea) This endemic shrub is federally listed as endangered. It’s close full-size relative naupaka kahakai (Scaevola taccada) is commonly seen along Hawaiian beaches, however, we do not use this species because it’s large size allows people to hide trash underneath the branches. The dwarf naupaka makes an excellent smaller ground-cover, while also being well-adapted to coastal conditions.

Naio, nye-oh (Myoporum stellatum) This rare shrub is found only in Kalaeloa and Nanakuli. Our site today is found between these two current populations of naio, and so was a likely habitat for this plant in the past. Despite being quite rare, naio is not listed as endangered, but only as ‘at risk’. It was sometimes substituted for ‘iliahi during the sandalwood trade, giving it the unfortunate nickname of ‘bastard sandalwood.’

Nohu, noh-hoo (Tribulus cistoides) This native shrub shares its name with the scorpion fish because of the spines found on the nohu seedpods.

‘Ohai, oh-hai (Sesbania tomentosa) This endemic shrub is federally listed as endangered. As a member of the pea family (also called legumes) ‘ohai is a nitrogen-fixing plant, which also provides nitrogen for other plants growing in the area. ‘ohai has distinctive and pretty flowers ranging from bright pink to pale orange. Unfortunately for the ‘ohai, introduced rats particularly enjoy its seeds, making it difficult for the plant to reproduce in some areas. Predator fences, such as the one protecting Ka’ena Point, help ‘ohai populations to thrive.

‘Ohelo kai oh-hello-kye (Lycium carolinianum var. sandwicense) In Hawai’ian, kai means water or sea, and ‘ohelo kai has berries that are similar to the ‘ohelo plant that grows on Big Island, hence the name ‘ohelo kai (‘ohelo by the sea).

Ma’o mah-oh (Gossypium tomentosum) Known as Hawaiian cotton, this shrub is federally listed as vulnerable and is a close relative of commercial cotton (Gossypium hirsutum). Ma’o is much more resistant to herbivory by insects than G. hirsutum, and the two have been bred in order to confer insect resistance into G. hirsutum. There is a wild population of ma’o currently growing across the road from the Piliokahe dunes, so our restoration efforts will help keep the current population healthy.

Ewa ‘hinahina, ay-vuh hee-nuh hee-nuh (Achyranthes splendens var. rotundata) This shrub is federally listed as endangered and is found in only three places on O’ahu island. The Hawaiian name for this plant was lost, so we know little of its use or importance in Hawaiian culture. It’s modern name comes from it’s habitat of the ‘Ewa plains, and hinahina which means grayish or silver. The leaves of this plant have small ‘hairs’ which give the plant a grayish or silver appearance and protect the plant from the heat of the sun.

Kāwelu, kah-weh-loo (Eragrostis variabilis) This endemic grass is found throughout the Hawaiian islands. The swaying of the grass in the wind was the inspiration for the kāwelu hula step.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We found a couple of other interesting organisms, too! Our overturned rocks startled a little gecko, and Sabrina managed to capture a little sand crab! We named the gecko Billy and the sand crab Herbert. Here’s hoping they enjoy their new plant friends!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As always, I also stopped by the previous sections of dunes that we have restored in past semesters. I’m always impressed at how well the plants from are doing. The dune we planted last fall is now almost entirely covered by plants! Piliokahe

 

 

 

UHWO Service Learning: Kalaeloa Heritage Park

This weekend, my intro biology students at UH West O’ahu completed their first service learning event at Kalaeloa Heritage Park, an archeological site and wahi pana (sacred place) managed and protected by the Kalaeloa Heritage and Legacy Foundation. The 77 acres that make up Kalaleoa Heritage Park contain 177 recorded cultural sites. A six-acre section housing 51 documented archeological features is being prepared as an educational park which will eventually be open to the public.

Prior to the restoration, Shad Kane took the students on a tour of the 6-acre park, including the eleven primary archeological features which will form the focus of the park when it is open to the public. Shad emphasized to the students that the story of the Kalaeloa residents is one of the farmer, the fisherman, and the gatherer, not one of chiefs or royals. The entire ‘Ewa Plain (stretching from Pearl Harbor west to Wai‘anae) including Kalaeloa Heritage Park is emerged coral reef which has fossilized and covered with a thin layer of soil. Consequently, the archeaological features are built of coral ‘rocks’ excavated from the surrounding area and suggest a Tahitian origin due to the prevalence of upright stones in the construction.

The features include:

  • Sinkholes in the coral which access an extensive underground river of freshwater.  Sinkholes were used for agriculture (plants could be planted inside the sinkhole to access the water), drinking water, or burial sites. Some of the sinkholes were large enough to have stairwells carved into them and open into large underground chambers.
  • Storage structures in which food (such as salt fish) and other goods (including bird feathers) were stored.
  • Other burial structures (not in sinkholes) called ‘ahu, which also served as places of personal prayer.
  • Portions of the Kualaka’i Trail which served to link inland resources (for example, kalo fields) with shoreline fishing grounds. The trail was documented in early maps of Hawaii, including the well-known maps published in 1825 from surveys performed by Royal Navy Lt. Malden of the HMS Blonde.
  • The largest feature of the 6-acre park is a partially rebuilt gathering and meeting room. The floor of the structure includes a natural raised coral platform in the center, which overlays at least two large underground caves. Shad emphasized that since this was not the home of a chief, the structure is not a true heiau (temple).

Not all of the features of the 6-acre park are ancient. The Kalaeloa Heritage Park grounds were once owned by the United States Navy, and still today abut the Kalaeloa Airport with frequent military traffic. In 1949, a training exercise resulted in the crash of a 3-man plane, killing the men on board. Portions of the wreckage are still visible, and the heritage park plans to erect a memorial to honor the men.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While restoration by trained archeologists will prepare the archeological features for the park, the restoration efforts by UHWO students helps to prepare the rest of the grounds to better represent the landscape that would have existed when this region was inhabited. As with our other locations, much of the land has been overrun with introduced invasive plants, particularly ki’awe trees (introduced to Hawai’i in the 1800s as part of cattle ranching) and buffelgrass (introduced in the 1930s, and a promoter of fire, which most native Hawaiian plants cannot survive). The unusually wet summer we had was noticeable here – the overgrowth of invasive plants was noticeably more severe than in past semesters when I have worked at this site.

To restore this area, Bruce first selected a series of planting sites (marked with ‘o’o in the photos below). Students prepared the ground by first filling the hole around the ‘o’o with water. This technique allows water to soak down into the ground, encouraging plants to develop deeper roots and increasing their chances of long-term survival. Though Shad and the rest of the KHP crew do tend the plants to some degree, we want them to be as capable of surviving on their own as we can make them. While they waited for their water to soak in, the students cleared the area around the ‘o’o of invasive plants.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Once the ground was prepared, Bruce Koebele introduced us to the native plants we would be planting:

Naio, nye-oh (Myoporum stellatum) This rare endemic shrub is found only in Kalaeloa and Nanakuli, and may soon be found only in Kalaeloa.  Despite being quite rare, naio is only listed as ‘at-risk.’ It was sometimes substituted for ‘iliahi during the sandalwood trade, giving it the unfortunate nickname of ‘bastard sandalwood.’

Maiapilo, mye-uh-pee-loh (Capparis sandwichiana) This endemic shrub is named for its stinky (‘pilo’ means a swampy or otherwise unpleasant smell) and banana-shaped (‘maia’ is the name for banana) fruits.  Maiapilo are closely related to capers and are federally listed as ‘at-risk.’  In early excavation at KHP, Shad discovered wild maiapilo already growing in the area, indicating our little plants will do well here. Maiapilo also attract birds to eat the seeds, which will not only spread more maiapilo plants, but will also contribute to a healthy ecosystem in the park.

Aweoweo ah-vay-oh-vay-oh (Chenopodium oahuense) This endemic shrub shares its name with a Hawaiian fish. The aweoweo because of the distinct fishy smell of the aweoweo flowers. Aweoweo is not currently found in Kalaeloa’ however a recent study of a sediment core from Ordy Pond identified aweoweo pollen indicating the plant used to occur in this area.

Kou, koh (Cordia subcordata) This native, though not endemic, tree was once thought to be a Polynesian introduction; however, recent excavations on Kaua’i uncovered fossilized kou seeds which pre-date Polynesian settlement of the islands indicating this plant is native to the islands.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

lonomea

This lonomea was planted by UHWO biology students in the fall of 2014, and it’s still doing well a year later!

Every semester, I also like to revisit the sites we restored in previous semesters, in the hopes of finding our little plants still thriving. Many of our plants from the previous two semesters were doing very well (particularly the aweoweo from last semester!). I found one little lonomea that I recognized from our first visit to KHP – look how well he’s doing now!

I want to end with a little aside for the native wiliwili trees (Erythrina sandwicensis) that are holding their own at KHP. These endemic trees are deciduous, which is unusual in Hawai’i. They’re also quite beautiful, particularly the brightly-colored seeds. At KHP, the wiliwili will be the primary shade trees (with some help from the lonomea), though right now, they are fighting for space with the invasive ki’awe. I took some nice close-ups of newly sprouted leaves on one of the individuals, and found a few of the seeds on the ground (indicating they are mature and healthy enough to be reproducing – a good sign!). The wiliwili also faces pressure from the Erythrina gall wasp (Quadrastichus erythrinae) which lays its eggs in the leaves. Quadrastichus infestations cause severe defoliation, mutation of leaves, and often death of the wiliwili. We found some such infected leaves at KHP (see photo below). In 2008, the Hawai’i Department of Agriculture introduced a second wasp, Eurytoma erythrinae, which is a natural predator on Quadrastichus in their native range of Africa. Eurytoma populations appear to be controlling Quadrastichus populations to manageable levels (though data collection is ongoing), without attacking native insects, such as the picture wing fly I found on the wiliwili leaf (see photo below).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

UHWO Service Learning: Piliokahe Beach

0412151109

Invasive koa haole with 1-foot stem and 2-foot tap root

On April 11th, the UHWO biology and botany students completed their third and final service learning of the Spring 2015 semester! Our last site is the most accessible and picturesque of the locations: Piliokahe (also called ‘Tracks’) Beach Park. The dune ecosystems of the beach park are consequently threatened by both invasive plants, and human recreational disturbance, both of which can lead to devastation of native plant communities and erosion of the dune systems.

I’m going to take a moment here to get on my soapbox about the difficulty of the work my students do. I frequently discuss the service learning component of my class with other scientists and professors – the first question is often “What exactly *is* service learning?” and after my 2-minute elevator pitch on the structure of our service learnings, I often then hear “Oh, so you just go out and pull weeds.” To be honest, I take some offense to this massive over-simplification of the work my students do, let me explain why.

The invasive plants the UHWO students remove are often full-grown, mature plants that have to be dug out by hand (usually without the aid of herbicides) to protect nearby native plants, or maintain the structural integrity of the soil. Many of the invasive plants have deep tap-roots that can be double the length of the above-ground stem (see photo). Removing them requires pick axes, ‘o’o, and weed wrenches. Bunch grasses have to be cut out individually with hand-scythes.

In addition, the sheer quantity of invasive plant material we remove can be staggering. Below is a photo of the invasive biomass removed from the Piliokahe site. Full bags weigh ~30 pounds, meaning the students remove hundreds of pounds of invasive biomass at each service learning. When Leeward Community College works at this site next weekend, they will remove another several hundred pounds of invasive biomass.

This is serious eradication of invasive organisms, not the ‘weed pulling’ you do in your flower garden.

0411151034a

More than just ‘pulling weeds’

As with the other locations, our first step at Piliokahe was to remove invasive buffelgrass, which was introduced to Hawaii in the early 1930s and is native to Africa and tropical Asia. This species is particularly problematic because it is fire-adapted, having a low ignition threshold and the ability to quickly reestablish after fire. Native Hawaiian plants along the dunes are not fire-adapted, so this shift in disturbance regime allows buffelgrass to rapidly dominate the habitat after being introduced. Unlike our other restorations, where we fully dug out invasive plants, we wanted to retain the buffelgrass root systems to protect the sandy soil from erosion. For this removal, then, we simply gave the buffelgrass a ‘haircut’ (as Bruce likes to say), while keeping the root system relatively intact.

As with the other sites, our restoration here involved three steps: 1) remove invasive plants, 2) prepare the ground for planting and 3) plant native plants. For this restoration, our leader Bruce Koebele gave us a wider array of plants – a total of 11 different species!

0411150735a

I always love the tray of plants that Bruce brings. They look so hopeful and excited for their new home!

‘Akulikuli, ah-coo-lee-coo-lee (Sesuvium portulacastrum) This native shrub is common in coastal areas, marshes, lagoons, and rocky shorelines and can grow directly out of exposed coral beds. It is so well-adapted to shore life that it can take up moisture directly from sea-spray off the ocean, despite the salt content of this water source. ‘Akulikuli bears a strong physical resemblance to the invasive pickleweed, and the two are sometimes confused.
Pohinahina, poh-hee-nah-hee-nah (Vitex rotundifolia) This native shrub gets its name from its tendency to fall over (pohina) as it grows taller and from the silvery-gray (hinahina) hairs that protect it from the sun. It is native to Hawai’i, but also found in Japan, India and many other Pacific islands.
Hinahina ku kahakai, hee-nah-hee-nah coo kah-hah-kye (Heliotropium anomalum) This endemic shrub also takes its name from silvery-gray (hinahina) hairs that protect the leaves from the sun, and its location near the ocean (kahakai).
Pa’u-o-Hi’iaka, pah-ooh-oh-hee-eee-ah-ka (Jacquemontia ovalifolia subsp sandwicensis) The Hawaiian name of this endemic vine translates as ‘the skirt of Hi’iaka’ – the vine is said to have protected Hi’iaka, the infant sister of the volcano goddess Pele, from the harsh Hawaiian sun as she lay on the beach while Pele was fishing. The vine produces rather pretty thick green leaves and small bluish purple flowers. Pa’u-o-hi’iaka already spreads throughout the dune areas where our restoration was taking place, and mature plants can be seen in many of the photos below.
‘Ilima, eee-lee-mah (Sida fallax) There are two version of this native shrub on O’ahu. The first, ‘ilima ku is a taller shrub, found in the drier environments such as the Ka’ala kipuka dry forest of our first service learning. The coastal ‘ilima is ‘ilima papa, which grows prone to the ground to protect it from the ocean wind. ‘Ilima is also the island flower of O’ahu.
‘Ohelo kai oh-hello-kye (Lycium carolinianum var. sandwicense) In Hawai’ian, kai means water or sea, and ‘ohelo kai has berries that are similar to the ‘ohelo plant that grows on Big Island, hence the name ‘ohelo kai (‘ohelo by the sea).
‘Ohai, oh-hi (Sesbania tomentosa) This endemic shrub is federally listed as endangered. As a member of the pea family (also called legumes) ‘ohai is a nitrogen-fixing plant, which also provides nitrogen for other plants growing in the area. ‘ohai has distinctive and pretty flowers ranging from bright pink to pale orange.
Naio, nye-oh (Myoporum stellatum) This rare shrub is found only in Kalaeloa and Nanakuli. Our site today is found between these two current populations of naio, and so was a likely habitat for this plant in the past. Despite being quite rare, naio is not listed as endangered, but only as ‘at risk’. It was sometimes substituted for ‘iliahi during the sandalwood trade, giving it the unfortunate nickname of ‘bastard sandalwood.’
Maiapilo, my-uh-pee-loh (Capparis sandwichiana) This endemic shrub is federally listed as ‘at risk.’ It takes its name from the resemblance of its fruit to banana (mai’a) which have a distinctively unpleasant fragrance (pilo).
Ma’u ‘aki’aki, mah-ooh-ah-kee-ah-kee (Fimbristylis cymosa) This native sedge is not federally listed, and due to its spiky leaves can be used as a deterrent to slugs, snails, and feral cats.
Nehe, nay-hay (Melanthera integrifolia) The name ‘nehe’ is used to refer to numerous different plants, all of which are endemic to Hawai’i. This particular nehe is found on all the main Hawaiian Islands as well as throughout the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.

Bruce had his intern David choose the locations for the plants to ensure that they were evenly dispersed. David had also come out previously and planted some large ‘ohai trees (which are marked with orange flags in the photos). We had 45 plants to plant, and only 44 students, so this time around, I got to plant a little hinahina ku kahakai myself. I’ll have to keep an eye for him when we return next semester and see how he’s doing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I also got a chance to revisit the dune we worked on last semester, and the plants are coming along very nicely. Dunes restored in previous years are still looking healthy, so I’m hoping the little guys we planted this semester and last will soon look as good as they do. Bruce plans to have us continue working north along the beach every semester until we run out of dune. I look forward to someday posting a panorama of all our years of restoration at this site. PilioBeforeAfter

UHWO Service Learning: Kalaeloa Heritage Park

This month’s service learning for UH-West O’ahu biology students was held at Kalaeloa Heritage Park, an archeological site and wahi pana (sacred place) managed and protected by the Kalaeloa Heritage and Legacy Foundation. The 77 acres that make up Kalaleoa Heritage Park contain 177 recorded cultural sites including a heiau (Hawaiian temple). A six-acre section housing 51 documented archeological features is being prepared as an educational park which will eventually be open to the public. The entire ‘Ewa Plain (stretching from Pearl Harbor west to Wai‘anae) including Kalaeloa Heritage Park is emerged coral reef which has fossilized and covered with a thin layer of soil. Prior to the restoration, the students were given a tour of the 6-acre park, including the eleven primary archeological features which will form the focus of the park when it is open to the public. These features are built of coral ‘rocks’ excavated from the surrounding area and suggest a Tahitian origin due to the prevalence of upright stones in the construction. The features include:

  • Sinkholes in the coral which access an extensive underground river of freshwater.  Sinkholes were used for agriculture (plants could be planted inside the sinkhole to access the water), drinking water, or burial sites. Some of the sinkholes were large enough to have stairwells carved into them and open into large underground chambers.
  • L-shaped and C-shaped structures, which served as temporary houses for visitors from other settlements who came to the region for trade.
  • Storage structures in which food (such as salt fish) and other goods (including bird feathers) were stored.
  • Other burial structures (not in sinkholes) called ‘ahu
  • Portions of the Kualaka’i Trail which served to link inland resources (for example, kalo fields) with shoreline fishing grounds. The trail was documented in early maps of Hawaii, including the well-known maps published in 1825 from surveys performed by Royal Navy Lt. Malden of the HMS Blonde.
  • The largest feature of the 6-acre park is a partially rebuilt heiau (temple). The floor of the heiau includes a natural raised coral platform in the center, which overlays at least two large underground caves.

Not all of the features of the 6-acre park are ancient. The Kalaeloa Heritage Park grounds were once owned by the United States Navy, and still today abut the Kalaeloa Airport with frequent military traffic. In 1949, a training exercise resulted in the crash of a 3-man plane, killing the men on board. Portions of the wreckage are still visible, and the heritage park plans to erect a memorial to honor the men.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While restoration by trained archeologists will prepare the archeological features for the park, the restoration efforts by UHWO students will help to prepare the rest of the grounds to better represent the landscape that would have existed when this region was inhabited. As with our other locations, much of the land has been overrun with introduced invasive plants, in this case kiawe (Prosopis pallida), introduced as a shade tree in the 1800s, and Chinese violets (Asystasia gangetica) introduced in the 1800s as an ornamental vine. The flowers of Chinese violets are interesting in that they change color once pollinated. When the flowers first open, they are a bright shade of purple, in order to attract passing bees. Once a flower has been pollinated, it very quickly fades to white. This allows the plant to not waste resources maintaining the vitality of a flower that has already served its purpose, and also indicates to bees that the flower no longer contains nectar or pollen. It’s also rather pretty 🙂

Asystasia gangetica flowers, unpollinated (left) and pollinated (right)

Asystasia gangetica flowers, unpollinated (left) and pollinated (right)

Mature kiawe trees must be cleared with chainsaws, and much of the remaining weedy invasives can be killed with herbicide prior to replanting of native plants. Areas surrounding native trees, however, must be cleared by hand in order to not threaten the mature native vegetation. Consequently, the students first cleared a section of land surrounding a mature wiliwli tree (Erythrina sandwicensis).

Students clear Chinese violets from the area surrounding a native wiliwili tree

Students clear Chinese violets from the area surrounding a native wiliwili tree

While the students cleared this area, Bruce Koebele prepared another site for planting. Digging holes for planting can be difficult at this location, since the soil is in many places only a inch or so thick. Finding a spot deep enough to dig for planting can be tedious. For this kind of digging, the Hawaiian ‘o’o is an excellent tool. Once the wiliwili was cleared and the new ground was ready for planting, Bruce introduced the students to the plants for this location:

Wiliwili, willy-willy (Erythrina sandwicensis): this endemic tree is deciduous, which is unusual in Hawai’i. It is currently federally listed as at-risk. When it was more common, the wiliwili was the preferred choice of wood for surfboards. Flowers and seeds of the wiliwili are also used in lei. The wiliwili is more commonly found in the dry forests of Waianae, making the individuals here unusual.
Ewa ‘hinahina, ay-vuh hee-nuh hee-nuh (Achyranthes splendens var. rotundata) This shrub is federally listed as endangered and is found in only three places on O’ahu island, including Kalaeloa Heritage Park. The Hawaiian name for this plant was lost, so we know little of its use or importance in Hawaiian culture. It’s modern name comes from it’s habitat of the ‘Ewa plains, and hinahina which means grayish or silver. The leaves of this plant have small ‘hairs’ which give the plant a grayish or silver appearance and protect the plant from the heat of the sun.
Ewa Plains ‘akoko, ah-koh-koh (Chamaesyce skottsbergii var. kalaeloana) All 15 species of ‘akoko are endemic to Hawai’i. The Ewa Plains ‘akoko is the rarest, with only one wild population known, and is federally listed as endangered. Restoration efforts are critical for maintaining this species in the wild.
Aweoweo, ah-vay-oh-vay-oh (Chenopodium oahuense) Aweoweo is also the name of a Hawaiian fish. The aweoweo shrub shares the name because of the distinct fishy smell of the aweoweo flowers. This shrub is particularly adapted to the coralline soils of the ‘Ewa plain and is endemic to Hawai’i.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The wiliwili trees were planted near the stumps of recently eradicated kiawe trees. If a particular spot provided enough water and nutrients to support a mature kiawe tree, it is assumed that spot could also support a mature wiliwili. The other plants were planted wherever an ‘o’o indicated the necessary soil depth. EwaHinahinaI was also very excited to revisit some of the plants my students planted last semester! So far as I could tell, all the plants we planted were not only still alive, but doing quite well!  Above is a particularly vigorous Ewa ‘hinahina.

UHWO Service Learning: Ka’ala Kipuka

On Saturday, February 7, my intro biology and intro botany students along with other bio students from UH West O’ahu, met at the Cultural Learning Center at Ka’ala Farm for the first of our three service learning projects this semester. This kipuka (area of older land surrounded by younger lava flows) now serves as a traditional kalo farm, and ecological restoration site. The UH West O’ahu students contributed to the ecological restoration of native Hawaiian dry forest under the supervision of Bruce Koebele, the native plant project coordinator at Ka’ala Farm.

Kaala

Restoration at Ka’ala Kipuka

The restoration of native dry forest is important for a number of reasons:
1) Over 95% of the native dry forest is already gone. In the past, native forest was cut out for grazing and agriculture, and today invasive plants quickly take over regions where native dry forest plants might otherwise thrive.
2) Many of the native dry forest species are endangered or threatened. Restoration projects are important form of in situ conservation for these species.
3) Many of the plants that make up the native dry forest are also important cultural resources. Restoration projects keep these plants viable for the cultural value they provide, in addition to their ecological roles.
4) Lastly, what little native dry forest remains is often inaccessible, and therefore ‘invisible’ to local people. Restoration projects help raise awareness of the threats the native dry forest species face, and build a commitment to protecting the remnants of this habitat.

The Ka’ala site has been overrun with invasive plants, namely kiawe and koa haole trees, as well as guinea grass. These species were introduced to the dry forests of Hawai’i as part of cattle ranching efforts in the 1800s. Kiawe is an excellent shade tree, while koa haole protects against soil erosion and guinea grass is good for cattle fodder. Unfortunately, all of these species are also rather effective invaders and have overtaken the dry forest from native Hawaiian species. Our first step was to remove these invasive plants and prepare the ground for planting of native species.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As with our sites last semester, we watered the empty hole in order to provide an underground water source for our plants. Supplying water under the plant not only encourages the roots to grow down (where they are more likely to intersect future water supplies), but also keeps the water we just added from evaporating. While we waited for the water to soak in, we helped Bruce clear out a pile of tree trunks that had been removed from a nearby restoration site.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As we walked to the log pile, Bruce stopped to point out a couple ‘ilima (Sida fallax) individuals. Though ma’o hau hele (aka yellow hibiscus) is the state flower, each island also has its own representative flower. ‘Ilima, which is also a member of the hibiscus family, is the island flower of O’ahu. What was exciting about the individuals Bruce pointed out was that they were ‘volunteers’ – plants that were not explicitly planted, but which grew up on their own. This indicates that the restoration efforts at Ka’ala are proving successful for propagating new individuals and becoming a self-perpetuating healthy native dry forest.

IMG_3883

‘Ilima, the island flower of O’ahu

Once the logs were removed, we returned to our cleared site to plant our native plants. Bruce supplied us with five different species of native plants:

Lonomea, loh-noh-may-uh, (Sapindus oahuensis): This endemic (found only in Hawai’i) tree is a member of the soapberry family and is found only on the islands of O’ahu and Kaua’i. Lonomea seeds are also commonly used in lei and its hard wood was used to make ‘o’o (the Hawaiian digging tool) prior to the use of metal. Despite its rarity, lonomea is not endangered.

Keahi, key-ah-hee, (Sideroxylon polynesicum): This indigenous (found in Hawai’i and elsewhere) tree is listed as ‘at risk’. The fruits of keahi produce a sticky sap which was once spread on tree branches to capture birds in order to obtain their feathers for ceremonial Hawaiian clothing.

Hala pepe, hah-lah peh-pay, (Pleomele hawaiiensis): This tree is endemic to Hawai’i and is federally listed as endangered. The large flowers of the hala pepe are often used for making lei, and the leaves are an important component of the hula as the hala pepe tree represents the hula goddess Kapo.

Kulu’i, coo-loo-ee, (Nototrichium humile): This endemic tree is also federally listed as endangered and is found only on the islands of O’ahu and Maui (and its continued survival on Maui is questionable). Within O’ahu, kulu’i is only found within the remnants of the dry forest zone in the Wai’anae Mountains.

Abutilon sandwicense,This endemic shrub is found only on the island of O’ahu, and is federally listed as critically endangered, and, like kulu’i, is found only in the Wai’anae Mountains. Its Hawaiian name has been lost, so we know little of its use or importance historically. Like several indigenous and endemic organisms, A. sandwicense takes its Latin name from the name Captain Cook gave to the Hawaiian islands: the Sandwich Islands.

After planting, we surrounded each plant with weed cloth, to help give our baby plants some room to grow without competition from nearby weeds.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In addition to all the plants we learned about, we also happened upon some unintended wildlife! We saw some invasive giant African snails (Lissachatina fulica), which were introduced to Hawai’i in the 1930s (probably via the pet trade) and can wreak herbivoral havoc on plants. One of the ones we found had been crunched underfoot, which allowed us to see it was carrying eggs. It was hard to feel bad that we had prevented it from fully raising its young, considering the problems they could cause for our newly restored system. We also found a small blindsnake (Ramphotyphlops braminus) which is the only terrestrial snake in Hawai’i (although the yellow-bellied sea snake is sometimes found here, too). Their small size and worm-like underground burrowing make them a rare find. It is not clear when blindsnakes were introduced, but it is likely they arrived as castaways on nursery plants. Lastly, we also saw a couple of the lesser brown scorpions (Isometrus maculates), which are also introduced.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

UHWO Biology Students Service Learning at Piliokahe Beach

Our third and final service learning for the Fall 2014 semester was held at Piliokahe (also known as ‘Tracks’) Beach Park on the west side of O’ahu, near Kapolei. This site is the most publicly accessible and picturesque of the restoration locations we have visited. So picturesque in fact, that not one, but *two* wedding parties visited the beach during our morning restoration activities to take wedding photos.

Like the other service learning events, Bruce Koebele supervised the students and provided the native plants for the restoration. Unlike the other locations, this site is an open recreation beach, meaning the dune ecosystems in Piliokahe are threatened not just by invasive plants, but also by human and vehicular disturbances, all of which can severely erode the sandy dunes. UHWO students worked on two locations at Piliokahe. The first was a dune overtaken by invasive buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris), and the second was a dune that had been partially restored by Malama Learning Center, but which was facing severe erosion before the native plants could establish root systems large enough to protect the sandy soil.

First Location: dune covered with invasive buffelgrass
As with the other locations, our first step here was to remove the invasive buffelgrass. Buffelgrass was introduced to Hawaii in the early 1930s and is native to Africa and tropical Asia. Buffelgrass is particularly problematic because it is fire-adapted, having a low ignition threshold and the ability to quickly reestablish after fire. Native Hawaiian plants along the dunes are not fire-adapted, so this shift in disturbance regime allows buffelgrass to rapidly dominate the habitat after being introduced. Unlike our other restorations, where we fully dug out invasive plants, we wanted to retain the buffelgrass root systems to protect the sandy soil from erosion. For this removal, then, we simply gave the buffelgrass a ‘haircut’ (as Bruce likes to say), while keeping the root system relatively intact. Bruce had sprayed much of the buffelgrass with an herbicide prior to our arrival, to make it easier to remove. The remaining grasses would be hit again with an herbicide to give the native plants a good chance of establishing.

The herbicide treatment was particularly relevant for my biology students as the herbicide Bruce uses specifically targets monocots (the buffelgrass) while not affecting the native eudicots. Last week’s lab focused on the physiological differences in these two groups (leaf venation, internal structure of stems and roots, etc) but the herbicides act on a biochemical differences in acetyl coenzyme A in each group (which is important in lipid synthesis). The herbicide inhibits production of acetyl coenzyme A in monocots, which disrupts cell division in the meristematic tissue (growth regions) of the grass stem and ultimately kills the plant.

As with the other sites, our restoration here involved three steps: 1) remove invasive plants, 2) prepare the ground for planting (dig a hole and fill it with water) and 3) plant native plants. The plants Bruce provided for this ecosystem included:

‘Ohelo kai oh-hello-kye (Lyceum carolinianum var. sandwicense) In Hawai’ian, kai means water or sea, and ‘ohelo kai has berries that are similar to the ‘ohelo plant that grows on Big Island, hence the name ‘ohelo kai (‘ohelo by the sea).
Pa’u-o-Hi’iaka, pah-ooh-oh-hee-eee-ah-ka (Jacquemontia ovalifolia subsp sandwicensis) this vine is said to have protected Hi’iaka, the infant sister of the volcano goddess Pele, from the harsh Hawaiian sun as she lay on the beach while Pele was fishing. Pa’u-o-hi’iaka translates to ‘the skirt of Hi’iaka’ and can also be used to treat thrush. The vine produces rather pretty thick green leaves and small bluish purple flowers. Pa’u-o-hi’iaka already spreads throughout the dune areas where our restoration was taking place, and mature plants can be seen in many of the photos below.
‘Akulikuli, ah-coo-lee-coo-lee (Sesuvium portulacastrum) This indigenous shrub is common in coastal areas, marshes, lagoons, and rocky shorelines and can grow directly out of exposed coral beds. It is so well-adapted to shore life that it can take up moisture directly from sea-spray off the ocean, despite the salt content of this water source. ‘Akulikuli bears a strong physical resemblance to the invasive pickleweed, and the two are sometimes confused.
Naio, nye-oh (Myoporum stellatum) This rare shrub is found only in Kalaeloa and Nanakuli, and was part of our restoration at Kalaeloa Heritage Park last month. Our site today is found between the two current populations of naio, and so was a likely habitat for this plant in the past. Despite being quite rare, naio is not listed as endangered. It was sometimes substituted for ‘iliahi during the sandalwood trade, giving it the unfortunate nickname of ‘bastard sandalwood.’
Ma’o, mah-oh (Gossypium tomentosum) Known as Hawaiian cotton, this shrub is federally listed as vulnerable and is a close relative of commercial cotton (Gossypium hirsutum). Ma’o is much more resistant to herbivory by insects than G. hirsutum, and the two have been bred in order to confer insect resistance into G. hirsutum. Ma’o also produces yellow flowers which can be used to create a vibrant green dye.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Bruce and his crews had previously restored a nearby dune last year, and the plants there have established quite well. We hope in a year that our dune will look this good!

IMG_3551

Expansion of native plants on a restored dune, planted last year

Second Location: dune threatened by erosion
The Malama Learning Center provides hands-on learning experiences to link art, science, conservation, and culture in order to promote sustainable living in Hawaii. One such learning experience in August of this year focused on restoration at Piliokahe Beach. Unfortunately, the dune restored during that exercise did not retain enough underground root mass to prevent significant wind, water, and human-caused erosion to threaten the native plants on the dune. Malama Learning Center built a series of small terraces to aid in soil retention, but more effective, longer-term means of soil retention and erosion control were still needed. Since this dune had already been cleared, our efforts focused solely on planting new plants lower on the dune to protect the bottom half from erosion. Later this month, Bruce will return with students from Leeward Community College in Pearl City to plant on the upper portion of the dune to protect the dune from erosion higher up. We planted only two plants on this dune, specifically chosen by Bruce to aid in soil retention. Bruce also strategically placed the plants to maximize their effect (as opposed to letting the students choose locations, as has been the case in other sites).

Pohinahina, poh-hee-nah-hee-nah (Vitex rotundifolia) This indigenous shrub is named for its tendency to pohina or ‘fall over’ as it grows. Pohinahina has aromatic leaves described as sage-like in smell, which are used to make lei. Rapid nodal rooting and vegetative reproduction create dense mats reaching up to 10 feet from the parent plant, making pohinahina excellent for erosion control and soil retention.
‘Aki’aki, ah-kee-ah-kee (Sporobois virginicus) This indigenous grass is common along many Hawaiian coastlines. ‘Aki’aki forms extensive underground root and stem systems, making it also an excellent choice for erosion control and soil retention.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Currently, there is no signage indicating restoration efforts in this area, meaning much of the human disturbances (though walking, dune sliding, and all-terrain-vehicles) of these dunes may be unintentional and preventable. To assist in reducing human disturbances, restoration groups active in the area are considering posting small signs informing the public that restoration is currently active in this area. Hopefully, such signage may support the efforts of the students and other groups and allow the native plants to establish and grow uninhibited.

UHWO Biology Students Service Learning at Kalaeloa Heritage Park

This month’s service learning for UH-West O’ahu biology students was held at Kalaeloa Heritage Park, an archeological site and wahi pana (sacred place) managed and protected by the Kalaeloa Heritage and Legacy Foundation. The 77 acres that make up Kalaleoa Heritage Park containing 177 recorded cultural sites including a heiau (Hawaiian temple). The entire ‘Ewa Plain (stretching from Pearl Harbor west to Wai‘anae) is an emerged coral reef, covered with a thin layer of soil and  containing numerous small caves and sinkholes, which served as important sources of fresh water for drinking and agricultural purposes. The structures at Kalaeloa are built of coral ‘rocks’ and suggest a Tahitian origin due to the prevalence of upright stones in the construction.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The process for the students’ service learning was much the same as the previous service learning at Ka’ala Kipuka. The students removed invasive plants from the area (mostly grasses in this case), prepped the soil for planting (mostly with heavy watering) and then planted native plants throughout the area. We focused on a small section of the Kalaeloa Heritage Park next to the recently-built kauhale (meeting house) at the park. Since ‘Ewa is not dry forest, like Ka’ala Kipuka, the native plants we planted here are different from those we worked with last time.

Ewa hinahina, ay-vuh hee-nuh hee-nuh (Achyranthes splendens var. rotundata) This shrub is federally listed as endangered and is found in only three places on O’ahu island, including Kalaeloa Heritage Park. The Hawaiian name for this plant was lost, so it’s current name comes from it’s habitat of the ‘Ewa plains, and hinahina which means grayish or silver. The leaves of this plant have small ‘hairs’ which give the plant a grayish or silver appearance and protect the plant from the heat of the sun.
Naio, nye-oh (Myoporum stellatum) This rare shrub is found only in Kalaeloa and Nanakuli (also on the west side of O’ahu). Naio was sometimes substituted for ‘iliahi during the sandalwood trade, giving it the unfortunate nickname of ‘bastard sandalwood’.
Lonomea, loh-noh-may-uh (Sapindus oahuensis) This large tree is endemic to Hawaii and found only on the islands of O’ahu and Kaua’i. It’s large size and branching canopy make it an excellent shade tree, and an excellent addition to the Kalaeloa Heritage Park. In hopes of ensuring their success, the lonomea trees were planted at the base of kiawe stumps that had been cut down as part of earlier restoration. Kiawe is an invasive tree that was introduced in the 1820s. In theory, spots that previously supported large kiawe trees will prove suitable for native lonomea as well.
Aweoweo, ah-vay-oh-vay-oh (Chenopodium oahuense) Aweoweo is also the name of a Hawaiian fish. The aweoweo shrub shares the name because of the distinct fishy smell of the aweoweo flowers. This shrub is particularly adapted to the coralline soils of the ‘Ewa plain.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.