HONOLULU – The UH Mānoa Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology has been awarded a $24,650 grant from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) to support the Connecting Coral Reefs Worldwide project. This new award will build on the positive outcomes of their 2013 award.
The DWCF 2014-2015 award will allow researchers and students from the Palau International Coral Reef Center to travel to HIMB to learn new population genetics techniques that will improve the design of resilient Marine Protected Area (MPA) networks so that they are more effective in protecting coral reefs in Palau and throughout Micronesia.
“Once trained in the new population genetics techniques, researchers will be able to return to Palau to apply these innovative approaches to coral reef conservation. Additionally local communities will have real ownership of the design of their MPA networks from the beginning,” said Dr. Stephen Karl, associate researcher at HIMB.
Impact of 2013-2014 Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund
The award helped support a HIMB team in obtaining the genetic data needed to observe the connectivity patterns of the coral Acropora hyacinthus, which is particularly resilient to environmental impacts, around the reefs of Palau. In this ongoing research, each individual coral is molecularly barcoded and fingerprinted at eighteen genes. The DNA sequence of each of these genes is determined and then a map of genetic relatedness can be created showing the genetic architecture of the corals on the reef. To date, the team has processed 1,200 individuals.
The grant helped to fund an outreach project which included trainings for three UH undergraduates in the genetic data research methods during internships in the laboratory.
The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund focuses on protecting wildlife and connecting kids and families with nature. Since its founding in 1995, DWCF has provided more than $25 million to support conservation programs in 114 countries. Projects were selected to receive awards based upon their efforts to study wildlife, protect habitats and develop community conservation and education programs in critical ecosystems.
For information on Disney’s commitment to conserve nature and a complete list of 2014 grant recipients, visit www.disney.com/conservation.