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recent research

current and past efforts emenating from this space 

Dr. Julie Bailey-Brock leads the Wormlab in studying the benthic invertebrate fauna of Hawai‘i and the tropical Pacific, particularly soft-sediment infauna. The Wormlab is home to a diverse group of researchers including technicians, post-docs, undergraduates, and graduate students who all share an interest in studying marine invertebrate biology from a variety of perspectives—from taxonomy and physiology to community ecology and population genetics.

The following are current and recent projects in the Wormlab:

Ocean Sewage Outfall Biomonitoring: "A five-year biological and sediment monitoring program on the marine communities near the city's ocean sewer outfalls." 

Marine fauna in the vicinity of several of the City of Honolulu's ocean sewage outfalls have been monitored for more than ten years under this ongoing program. Organisms monitored include those living on and in the sediment—worms, mollusks, crustaceans; plus corals, and fish. The study is designed to identify any changes in the composition and dynamics of these communities that might signal negative impacts from the sewage discharge. Outfall sites monitored are Barber's Point, Sand Island, Waianae, and Mokapu as well as a biannual Mamala Bay Regional sampling. Recently, supplemental studies have been added including a project to see if land based metals accumulate in the marine benthic community though the sewage outfalls in Mamala Bay. 


Reef Community Study 


This study assesses the impact of human trampling on the shallow benthic community as well as benthic grazers using exclusion cages. A baseline sample was taken in 2000, subsequent samples in 2001 and completed in 2007. Both plate and rubble samples were collected in this study.


Hawaiian Open-Ocean Aquaculture Research Project (HOARP): "The impacts of Polydactylus sexfilis mariculture on the benthos." (National Sea Grant Program)


An open-ocean enclosure has successfully produced several commercially viable harvests of the Pacific threadfin, Polydactylus sexfilis, off the south shore of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. The mariculture enclosure is suspended 10 m above native carbonaceous sediments in 38-40 m deep water. Granulometric and infaunal analyses were conducted on sediment cores collected from six stations at approximately the same depth were sampled along an east to west gradient. This research as resulted in two publications, see recent publications for PDF files.

Benthic Infaunal Community Structure in Sediments from Apra Harbor, Guam, Mariana Islands 2010

January 2011 to August 2011

National Coastal Assessment Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP): Continuing Assessment of Hawai‘i's Estuaries and Coastal Waters Phase 2

mid-2004 to 2006 (University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program).

The Hawai‘i EMAP Phase 2 is an effort to continue the assessment of the physical, biological, and chemical condition of Hawai‘i estuaries and nearshore coastal waters using standardized methods and a suite of environmental indicators. A number of key coastal environmental issues were addressed, including:

◦ impact of alien or aquatic nuisance species introductions 

◦ habitat destruction and alteration

◦ sedimentation related issues

◦ direct and indirect effects of over harvest of resources

◦ toxic contamination

◦ role of eutrophication on Hawai‘i reefs

◦ alteration of hydrology

Benthic Community Structure of Reef Sediments in the Vicinity of Sewage Outfalls at Tanguisson and Agana, Guam, Mariana Islands

April 2005 to December 2006

The benthic invertebrate community structure was characterized at outfall sites in the zone of initial dilution and at control sites away from the outfalls at Tanguisson Point and Agana on Guam. The purpose was to characterize the species present and their abundance at these sites to satisfy EPA requirements of 301h waiver permits.

Community Structure of Infauna Residing in Reef Sediments from Guam, Mariana Islands

August 2005 to March 2006

The benthic invertebrate community structure was characterized at EPA designated sites around the coasts of Guam. This provided a unique opportunity to further study the benthic invertebrates around Guam, adding to our current knowledge of the infauna in Guam, the Marianas, Fiji, Tonga, and New Caledonia. An index of biodiversity was assembled and any indicator species that were present were noted. The motility, feeding and reproductive modes of the native fauna and any potential indicator species were compared to those identified from other tropical locations. 

Coastal 2000/EMAP 2002 - Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) for Hawai‘i Regional Sampling: An initial assessment of Hawai‘i estuaries and coastal waters 

2000 to 2002 

Coastal 2000 represents a large-scale, five-year effort led by the EPA's office of Research and Development to assess the environmental condition of the estuaries and offshore waters of the 24 US coastal states and Puerto Rico. This project is organized at the national level by the Gulf Ecology Division (GED) of the US EPA's Gulf Breeze Environmental Effects Research Laboratory. The overall goals of the project address two primary questions: (1) What is the condition of ecological resources in my state? and (2) What stressors are associated with degradation of ecological resources in my state? In 2002 Hawai‘i launched field operations to simultaneously examine environmental quality parameters of near shore waters, sediments, and biota at 50 stations among six of the main Hawaiian Islands.