High Islands and Low: The Biogeography of Fijian Coral HealthEPA Grant Number: U915636
Title: High Islands and Low: The Biogeography of Fijian Coral Health
Investigators: Hoffman, Tegan P.
Institution: University of California - Berkeley
EPA Project Officer: Michaud, Jayne
Project Period: August 1, 1999 through August 1, 2002
Project Amount: $85,692
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1999) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Fellowship - Earth Sciences
The objectives of this research project are to: (1) investigate the geography of coral diseases in Fiji; and (2) examine the emergence and spread of coral reef disease in the recent past with human and natural impacts, by mapping the distribution and pattern of coral disease outbreaks and creating a geographic information system (GIS) database. Little is known about the cause of coral reef diseases throughout the world. I will examine the distribution of coral diseases and coral reef health in Fiji, and determine what the history and geography of that distribution imply about the disease origin, ecology, and transmission.
Three groups of islands have been chosen for this research project as sites. The focus of the first group of islands—Ovulua, Vatutheke, and Wakaya—will be to determine how a fish cannery, using hydrocarbons and ammoniums, affects the coral reef as a function of distance. The focus of the second group of islands—Vatulele and Bega—will be how an effluent on a large island, Viti Levu, affects a coral reef. The final set of islands—Malolo and Malololailai—will be used to examine how the sewage/septic system affects the reef. Each island has a unique geography and environmental history of the reef. By choosing islands with or without certain variables, this research will examine the spatial variability and the changes taking place in the composition and health of the coral reef ecosystem. Three methods will be used to obtain these data on coral reef health at varying spatial scales: (1) local knowledge—we will obtain data from local people who have firsthand knowledge of the reef to examine the local environmental history and identify impacts on the marine habitat; (2) transects and site analysis—we will gather data by conducting site-specific ecological and epizootiology data collection and water quality analysis; and (3) mapping—we will be mapping large-scale geographic patterns.