SERDP & ESTCP Webinar Series

SERDP and ESTCP have launched a webinar series to promote the transfer of innovative, cost-effective and sustainable solutions developed through projects funded in five program areas. The webinar series targets Department of Defense and Department of Energy practitioners, the regulatory community and environmental researchers with the goal of providing cutting edge and practical information that is easily accessible at no cost.

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Webinar #66 (12/07/2017)

Management of Novel Hawaiian Ecosystems

Dr. Susan Cordell, Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry/USDA Forest Service

Dr. Rebecca Ostertag, University of Hawaii at Hilo

December 7, 2017

12:00 PM ET (9:00 AM PT)

Presentation Slides

Abstract

“The Potential for Restoration to Break the Grass/Fire Cycle in Dryland Ecosystems in Hawaii by Dr. Susan Cordell

Tropical dry forest resources in Hawaii and the Pacific are declining at alarming rates. This loss of habitat for threatened and endangered species is largely a result of fire, forcing land managers such as the Department of Defense (DoD) to develop strategies to protect and restore these areas. We propose that native forest restoration may be the most cost-effective management tool to reduce fuel loads, fire danger, and fire impacts while also controlling invasive species establishment and spread. The specific objectives of our research were to 1) develop technology for regional restoration planning and ecosystem monitoring, 2) quantify restoration potential for remnant Hawaiian dry forests and shrublands, and 3) develop effective fuel and fire risk reduction measures that initiate succession of degraded grasslands into native woody communities. The presentation will show how we utilized a suite of remote sensing technologies and field approaches to provide concrete, and practical information needed for restoration planning and for monitoring of threats to the restoration process. The outcomes associated with this project jointly benefit a number of land management agencies in Hawaii and the Pacific including the Department of Defense and the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

"Developing Novel Ecosystems that Enhance Carbon Storage, Native Biodiversity, and Human Mobility in Lowland Hawaiian Forests" by Dr. Rebecca (Becky) Ostertag

Restoration to a previous reference condition may not be feasible in all situations, due to lack of information, invasive species, or climate change. When site improvement is desirable, a valuable option is restoration based on functional traits. The objective of this research is to develop an experimental approach to understand the role of functional diversity. In this webinar, we talk about the functional trait-based approach that led to the development of the Restoring Ecosystem Services Tool (REST) and resulted in the initiation of the “Liko Nā Pilina” experiment in a lowland wet forest in Hilo, Hawaii. Hybrid ecosystems (in which mixes of native and non-native, non-invasive species are planted) represent a new restoration technique aimed at maintaining forest structure and valuable ecosystem services. In Hawaii, low species richness provides a tractable system with which to experiment. The climate ensures that canopy closure can occur within reasonable time frames. These hybrid ecosystems meet DoD objectives because they can be maintained with relatively limited input, are capable of sequestering substantial amounts of carbon, sustaining a broad range of native biological diversity, and staying open enough at ground level to allow for military training.

Speaker Biographies

Susan Cordell

Dr. Susan Cordell is a research ecologist with the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, a research branch of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service located in Hilo, Hawaii. Susan’s current areas of research include ecophysiology, restoration ecology, functional ecology, tropical dry ecosystems, tropical ecology, grass invasions, and Hawaiian ecosystems. The focus of most of her professional career has been related to the conservation, preservation, and restoration of tropical ecosystems. Susan was a Principal Investigator on several research grants focused on restoration of ecosystem services and has authored or coauthored over 75 peer- reviewed publications. Susan received her Bachelors of Arts degree in Aquatic Biology from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1987. In 1989 she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines and was first exposed to the destructive impact of land use on native tropical ecosystems. Susan continued her education at the University of Hawaii Manoa where she received a master of science degree (1996) and doctoral degree (1999) in botany.

Becky

Dr. Rebecca (Becky) Ostertag is a professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Becky is a forest ecologist who studies how tropical ecosystems function. This focus has led her into the field of ecological restoration, in which she uses ecological theory related to functional traits to design restoration treatments. Since 2002, she has been working in the lowland wet forest ecosystem at Keaukaha Military Reservation. From 2011 to 2016, she served as the Principal Investigator of a SERDP project related to Resource Conservation. This SERDP project developed novel techniques for species selection in restoration and initiated a restoration experiment known as Liko Nā Pilina. She also has received funding from the National Science Foundation for other research on tropical forest growth dynamics and nutrient cycling. She has authored more than 50 publications on forest ecology. Becky earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota and a doctoral degree in botany from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. 

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