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Honolulu, HI, United States

Kahng S.E.,Hawaii Pacific University | Copus J.M.,Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology | Wagner D.,Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability | Year: 2014

While substantial mesophotic coral ecosystem (MCE) habitat (>30-40. m) remains uninvestigated, recent investigations show that the extent of both MCE habitat and species diversity is greater than previously thought. The depth distributions and biogeographic ranges for many shallow-water organisms have also been historically underestimated. The upper mesophotic is home to many shallow-water marine organisms and represents a transition zone between shallow-water and lower mesophotic communities. The lower mesophotic represents a distinct community with some species exhibiting special physiological adaptations. Therefore, vertical connectivity is predominantly relevant between the upper mesophotic and shallow-water reefs. In some cases vertical connectivity is restricted due to genetic adaptation to these opposing reef habitats. Horizontal connectivity between MCEs remains largely unknown and represents an important avenue for future research. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

News Article | February 3, 2016
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

Scientists have announced the discovery of four new species of deep-water algae in Hawaii's Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. The new species were collected between 200-400 feet, depths not typically known for marine algae.

New species of deep-water algae was photographed by a SCUBA diver at 200 feet at Kure Atoll in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Credit: Daniel Wagner/NOAA Scientists working with NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries announced the discovery of four new species of deep-water algae from Hawaii. Marine algae, or limu, are very important in Hawaiian culture, used in foods, ceremonies and as adornments in traditional hula. The new species of limu were collected between 200-400 feet, depths not typically known for marine algae. Heather Spalding, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii Department of Botany and lead author of the study, said, "I was astounded at the abundance and size of these algae, which resembled something you would see in a shallow-water lagoon, not at 400 feet." Spalding has been collaborating with NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries for several years studying samples collected by NOAA divers working in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. She and her colleagues at the University of Hawaii and University of Washington's Friday Harbor Laboratories conducted DNA analyses that showed that the species are very different than those found in Hawaii's shallow waters, even though they are very similar in appearance. "If you picked up one of these algae on the beach, you couldn't tell if it was from a nearby rock or washed up from the deep, the species look that similar," Spalding said. The newly discovered species are similar in appearance to limu palahalaha (Ulva lactuca), or sea lettuce. Scientists consulted with the Native Hawaiian community to develop meaningful names for the new species to honor the great importance they have in Hawaiian culture. One species was named Ulva iliohaha, which refers to the foraging behavior of ilioholoikauaua, the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, one of the best-known residents of Papahanaumokuakea. The species were sampled during surveys between 2013 and 2015 in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument by NOAA divers using advanced SCUBA diving technologies, and during past NOAA expeditions from 2006 to 2014 throughout the Main Hawaiian Islands using submersibles operated by the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory. Scientists anticipate that many additional new species of algae will be described in the coming years from samples collected by NOAA divers on future expeditions to the monument. "These findings redefine our understanding of algal distributions in Hawaii, and hint at the great number of other new species that are likely to be discovered in the future from these amazing deep-water reefs," said Daniel Wagner, Papahanaumokuakea research specialist with NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. More information: Heather L. Spalding et al. New Ulvaceae (Ulvophyceae, Chlorophyta) from mesophotic ecosystems across the Hawaiian Archipelago, Journal of Phycology (2015). DOI: 10.1111/jpy.12375

FILE- In this Feb. 11, 2016 file photo, rare species of Hawaiian coral being used to create a seed bank grows in a tank at a coral nursery in Honolulu. At the largest international gathering of coral reef experts in May, scientists called for action to save the world's reefs. The international community is coming together to address global warming, wildlife trafficking and environmental conservation at the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii. The start of the International Coalition for the Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress, which is being held in the U.S. for the first time, began Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016 with a Native Hawaiian ceremony. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File) HONOLULU (AP) — The international community came together Thursday in Hawaii for 10 days of talks by leading academics, conservation groups and government officials to address the impacts of global warming, wildlife trafficking and environmental conservation. Hawaii Gov. David Ige announced a major sustainability initiative to preserve his state's delicate ecosystem at the opening ceremony of the International Coalition for the Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress — committing to protect more watershed areas and reefs ecosystems through increased regulation . Ige said Hawaii will also double its local food production to reduce dependence on many items shipped to the islands, and impose a biosecurity plan to remove and prevent the introduction of invasive species that harm local wildlife. The measures come on top of an existing plan for Hawaii, which is the nation's most oil-dependent state, to become energy independent by 2045. "As an island state, Hawaii is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including increased storms, coral bleaching as well as local impacts that place our reefs at risk," said Jack Kittinger, director of Conservation International's Hawaii program in a statement. "CI is grateful to the Governor for committing to protect our natural environment so that it can continue to benefit our communities now and into the future." The conference is being held in the U.S. for the first time, and Ige called Hawaii a "microcosm of our planet earth" but also the "endangered species capital of the world." Also Thursday, President Barack Obama was travelling from Honolulu to one of the most remote corners of the Pacific Ocean — Midway Atoll — to amplify his call for global action on environmental protection. In his latest conservation push, Obama is expanding the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which includes Midway, to four times its current size. Speaking to leaders of Pacific island nations ahead of his trip, Obama said that 7,000 species live in the waters, and 1 in 4 are found nowhere else in the world. "Ancient islanders believed it contained the boundary between this life and the next," Obama told Pacific Island nation leaders Wednesday night before the conference started. "This is a hallowed site, and it deserves to be treated that way. And from now on, it will be preserved for future generations." The marine monument will grow to 582,578 square miles under Obama's expansion, an area more than twice the size of Texas. The world's largest, the monument reflects Obama's strategy of using his executive powers to put lands and waters off-limits to development, despite concerns from critics who argue his heavy-handed approach comes at the expense of vulnerable local economies. A study released Wednesday ahead of the conservation conference concluded that Africa's population of savanna elephants is rapidly declining. The animals are in danger of being wiped out as international and domestic ivory trades drive poaching across the continent, the study said. The African savanna elephant population plummeted about 30 percent from 2007 to 2014 and is currently declining at about 8 percent annually, according to the survey funded by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen. "If we can't save the African elephant, what is the hope of conserving the rest of Africa's wildlife?" asked elephant ecologist Mike Chase, the study's lead researcher. After the most powerful El Nino on record heated the world's oceans to never-before-seen levels over the past two years, huge swaths of once vibrant coral reefs that were once teeming with life are now stark white ghost towns disintegrating into the sea. The world's top marine scientists are still struggling to find the political and financial backing to tackle the loss of these globally important ecosystems. At the largest international gathering of coral reef experts in May, scientists called for action to save the world's reefs. Australia's famed Great Barrier Reef is among those hit hard, and the scientists urged the government of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to do more to conserve it. "This year has seen the worst mass bleaching in history," the letter said. "The damage to this Australian icon has already been devastating." The conference in Hawaii is hosting more than 8,000 people from 180 nations. Find more stories by AP's Caleb Jones at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/caleb-jones Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CalebAP

Obama's proclamation quadrupled in size a monument originally created by President George W. Bush in 2006. The Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument will contain some 582,578 square miles, more than twice the size of Texas. The president is slated to travel to the monument next week to mark the new designation and cite the need to protect public lands and waters from climate change. The president was born in Hawaii and spent much of his childhood there. In expanding the monument, Obama cited its "diverse ecological communities" as well as "great cultural significance to the Native Hawaiian community and a connection to early Polynesian culture worthy of protection and understanding." The monument designation bans commercial fishing and any new mining, as is the case within the existing monument. Recreational fishing will be allowed through a permit, as will be scientific research and the removal of fish and other resources for Native Hawaiian cultural practices. The regional council that manages U.S. waters in the Pacific Islands voiced disappointment with Obama's decision, saying it "serves a political legacy" rather than a conservation benefit. The council recommends catch limits and other steps designed to sustain fisheries. It said it recommended other expansion options that would have minimized impacts to the Hawaii longline fishery, which supplies a large portion of the fresh tuna and other fish consumed in Hawaii. "Closing 60 percent of Hawaii's waters to commercial fishing, when science is telling us that it will not lead to more productive local fisheries, makes no sense," said Edwin Ebiusi Jr., chairman of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council "Today is a sad day in the history of Hawaii's fisheries and a negative blow to our local food security." Sean Martin, the president of the Hawaii Longline Association, said his organization was disappointed Obama closed an area nearly the size of Alaska without a public process. "This action will forever prohibit American fishermen from accessing those American waters. Quite a legacy indeed," he said in an email to The Associated Press. The Pew Charitable Trusts helped lead the push to expand the monument. It says research shows that very large, fully protected marine reserves are necessary to rebuild fish populations and diversity of species. "By expanding the monument, President Obama has increased protections for one of the most biologically and culturally significant places on the planet" said Joshua S. Reichert, an executive vice president at Pew. The White House is describing the expansion as helping to protect more than 7,000 species and improving the resiliency of an ecosystem dealing with ocean acidification and warming. It also is emphasizing that the expanded area is considered a sacred place for Native Hawaiians. Shipwrecks and downed aircraft from the Battle of Midway in World War II dot the expansion area. The battle marked a major shift in the war. Obama will travel to the Midway Atoll to discuss the expansion. With the announcement, Obama will have created or expanded 26 national monuments. The administration said Obama has protected more acreage through national monument designations than any other president. The White House said the expansion is a response to a proposal from Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz and prominent Native Hawaiian leaders. The federal government will also give Hawaii's Department of Natural Resources and Office of Hawaiian Affairs a greater role in managing the monument, an arrangement requested by Schatz and Gov. David Ige. Ige signed off on the expansion Wednesday, telling Obama in a letter that there had been tremendous debate on the issue locally. In the end, he decided the "proposal strikes the right balance at this time for the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands, and it can be a model for sustainability in the other oceans of planet Earth." But American Samoa's delegate in the House of Representatives, Aumua Amata, said the monument expansion would place an already economically challenged territory at greater risk. "Our local fishing industry, which comprises more than 80 percent of the local economy, depends heavily on access to these waters," Amata said. Explore further: Federal agencies must protect America's Pacific Island monuments from illegal fishing

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