[Coral-List] Research facilities available at the National Park of American Samoa

Tim_Clark at nps.gov Tim_Clark at nps.gov
Tue Oct 12 18:28:26 EDT 2010

National Park of American Samoa
 Seeking Novel Research and Collaborations in Support of National Resource
                     Request for Statement of Interest

The National Park of American Samoa (NPSA) is requesting information on the
interest of academic and agency partners to collaborate in the development
of research projects in support of natural resource stewardship in American
Samoa.  American Samoa, a US Territory in the South Pacific Ocean, provides
an ideal location to serve as a baseline for climate change research on
coral reefs and tropical rainforests.  The islands have high biodiversity
with relatively few of the anthropogenic stressors occurring elsewhere
around the world.  Of particular interest is research conducted at the
National Park’s marine research station on the island of Ofu.  Ofu is a
high volcanic island in the Manu`a group, and offers a unique diversity of
tropical rainforests, sandy beaches, protected lagoons, and outer reefs in
a remote island setting.

Ofu is especially suited to marine research as the 200-m wide "lagoon" (a
back-reef moat 1-2 m deep at low tide), which stretches 3 km along the
southern coastline, is easily accessible from shore.  The protected lagoon
has a highly diverse marine community, with 85 coral species providing 25%
benthic cover and over 100 fish species.  Corals in the lagoon are uniquely
adapted to survive brief hot water events that would normally lead to
bleaching.  Mean summer temperatures are 29 °C but reach up to 34.5 °C,
with daily temperature fluctuations up to 6 °C.  Regular hot water events
with temperatures over 32 °C occur during low tides in the summer, and last
an average of 2.4 hours per event.  Despite the extreme stress from hot
water events, bleaching is less than 1% during most years, making the
lagoon one of the best natural laboratories in the world for climate change
research.  During the same tidal events, water acidity changes up to 0.5 pH
units and dissolved oxygen changes from 20-250% saturation.

The National Park has recently renovated its ranger station and two small
research labs to support marine and terrestrial research on the island.
Starting in February 2011 there will be a full time ranger stationed on Ofu
to help with logistical support for visiting scientists.  The wet and dry
labs are 60 m from the lagoon.  The wet lab has a freshwater supply and
floor drainage.  The dry lab has counter spaces with areas for dissecting
scopes and computer work stations.  In addition to lab space, the park has
a portable seawater flow system which allows for experimental manipulation
of light and temperature regimes in a controlled environment.  While the
lagoon can be easily accessed from shore, there is also a 12 ft. zodiac
with a  25 hp outboard and a 23 ft. zodiac with twin 150 hp outboards on
the island that can be used with park certified drivers.  A gas compressor
and 6 scuba cylinders are available for divers with AAUS/Govt. reciprocity.
Food and lodging are available for up to 20 people in seven cabins adjacent
to the lab at the privately run Vaoto lodge (www.vaotolodge.com).  Home
stays with local families can also be arranged.

Only a limited number of projects can be supported each year (generally
self-funded), and priority will be given to proposals contributing to
NPSA’s management and research interests.  For additional information about
conducting research on Ofu contact:

Tim Clark
Marine Ecologist
National Park of American Samoa
Phone: 684-699-3982 ext. 41
Email: tim_clark at nps.gov

                           Selected publications

Barshis D J, Stillman J H, Gates R D, Toonen R J, Smith L W, Birkeland C
(2010) Protein expression and genetic structure of the coral Porites lobata
in an environmentally extreme Samoan back reef: does host genotype limit
phenotypic plasticity?  Mol Ecol 19(8):1705-20.

Birkland, C. et al.  2008.  Geologic setting and ecological functioning of
coral reefs in American Samoa.  Chapt. 20, In (B. Riegl and R. Dodge,
Eds.). Coral reefs of the USA. Springer Publications. NY. 803pp.

Craig, P. et al.  2008.  Subsistence harvest of coral reef resources in the
outer islands of American Samoa: modern and prehistoric catches. Fisheries
Research 89(3): 230-240.

Craig P, Birkeland C, Belliveau S (2001) High temperatures tolerated by a
diverse assemblage of shallow-water corals in American Samoa. Coral Reefs

Smith LW, Birkeland C (2007) Effects of intermittent flow and irradiance
level on back reef Porites corals at elevated seawater temperatures. J Exp
Mar Biol Ecol 341:282–294.

Smith L W, Barshis D, Birkeland C (2007) Phenotypic plasticity for skeletal
growth, density and calcification of Porites lobata in response to habitat
type.  Coral Reefs 26: 559-567.

Tim Clark
Marine Ecologist
National Park of American Samoa
Pago Pago, AS  96799
Tim_Clark at nps.gov

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