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Championing Hawaiian Land Snail Conservation: A Collaborative Endeavor

Hawaiian land snails, unique and fragile, face the threat of extinction. To combat this, a partnership between the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, and the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources has been forged. This collaboration, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, is one of six groundbreaking projects.

With a grant of $1,595,518 over three years, our mission is clear: advance conservation science and action for endangered Hawaiian land snails. These creatures, with nearly 60% of their population already extinct, are in dire need of immediate intervention.

Our research team, including myself, will embark on a journey to understand Hawaiian land snail ecology. We will explore host plant preferences, feeding habits, and the crucial microbial food sources that sustain them.

But this project is more than science; it's a harmonious blend of values and missions that resonate with PBRC, C-MAIKI (Center for Microbiome Analysis through Island Knowledge & Investigation), and the University of Hawaiʻi. It aligns with our vision of innovation at the intersection of environmental microbiomes, stewardship, and sustainability.

My role as a co-investigator is multifaceted. I am a researcher, determined to uncover the world of environmental microbiomes shaping the snails' lives. I'm an educator, nurturing the next generation of scientists through our training program, in synergy with my REU: Environmental Biology for Pacific Islanders. Lastly, I'm a science communicator, bridging Indigenous wisdom with Western science to improve conservation outcomes.

The support from NSF and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation will help address critical knowledge gaps about the feeding ecology of Hawaiian land snails. We'll shed light on microbial food resources and develop efficient captive rearing methods, benefiting not only the snails but also the restoration of native ecosystems.

Kenneth Hayes, lead investigator, notes that this award will lay the foundation for transforming Hawaiian land snail conservation and deepening our understanding of plant, snail, and microbe interactions in Hawaiʻi's native ecosystems.

This project is a testament to collaborative power, knowledge pursuit, and the commitment to safeguarding Hawaii's treasures. We embark on a journey transcending scientific boundaries to honor the legacy of these unique snails and their Hawaiian habitats.


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