Abstract Detail

Paths forward: Engaging Indigenous science and knowledge

Gibson, Veronica [1], Bremer, Leah L. [2], Burnett, Kimberly M. [3], Lui, Nicole Keakaonaali'i [4], Smith, Celia [1].

Biocultural values of groundwater dependent ecosystems and associated limu (Hawaiian macroalgae) in Kona, Hawai‘i.

Limu, or native Hawaiian macroalgae, play a key environmental role as primary producers in Hawaiʻi’s groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs), including anchialine pools, Hawaiian aquaculture systems, and nearshore reefs. Limu are also important to Indigenous Hawaiian, or Kānaka ʻŌiwi cultural practices. Kānaka ʻŌiwi knowledge and value systems associated with both limu and GDEs reflect a complex understanding of ecosystem connectivity, hydrology, ecology, management systems of ecomimicry, and sacred connections to place. GDEs are increasingly recognized as important conservation targets with linked ecological and cultural value. However, the Indigenous cultural values and knowledge systems of GDEs have received relatively little research attention in the peer-reviewed literature, precluding their greater inclusion in policy and management decisions. To help fill this gap, we provide a case study from Kona, Hawaiʻi, where multiple types of GDEs are abundant, to illustrate the diversity of ways limu contribute to the social uses and values of GDEs. To explore these uses and values, we combined a literature review, archival analysis, and key-informant interviews with resource managers and lineal descendants connected to three prominent GDEs: Indigenous aquaculture systems, anchialine pools, and nearshore ecosystems. Interviews focused on current and historical uses and values of GDEs, contemporary management challenges and strategies, and desired visions for the future. Interviewees expressed a range of uses and values associated with GDEs, which we categorized using a Hawaiʻi-based cultural ecosystem service framework focused on social connections, physical and mental health, spirituality, and knowledge. We found that limu plays many important roles in Kānaka ʻŌiwi GDE biocultural systems as ecological indicators, food, medicine, and as an important component of Kānaka ʻŌiwi spiritual cosmologies. Importantly, results suggest that the historical value of GDEs directly informs current social value, and that restoration efforts are largely carried out through biocultural approaches, which emphasize the mutually reinforcing restoration of ecology and Indigenous knowledge. We found that interviewees seek to restore GDE and limu ecosystem functions, cultural practice and connection to place, and in some cases, local food production. Achieving these goals requires addressing multiple and interacting threats to these systems including invasive species, land-based sources of pollution, groundwater pumping, and climate change. Importantly, effective and equitable restoration also rests on recognition and amplification of Indigenous rights, knowledge, practice, and governance. These results provide important lessons for land and water management and policy in Hawaiʻi as well as other islands and coastal areas where GDEs and GDE associated macroalgae have important linked social and ecological value.

Related Links:
This work is part of the larger ʻIke Wai hawaii EPSCOR project
This work is also funded by the Hawaiʻi Water Resources Research Center

1 - University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, School of Life Sciences, 3190 Maile Way, Honolulu, HI, 96822, USA
2 - University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Water Resource Research Center , 2540 Dole St. , Holmes Hall 283, Honolulu, HI, 96822, USA
3 - University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, 2424 Maile Wau, Sunders Hall 540, Honolulu, HI, 96822, USA
4 - Hawai'i County Planning Department, Hawaiʻi Cultural Resource Commission, 74-5044 Ane Keokālole Hwy, Kailua Kona, HI, 96740, USA

social ecological systems
submarine groundwater discharge
ecosystem services
Traditional Ecological Knowledge
Indigenous aquaculture
Anchialine pools
Indigenous management systems

Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Number: C8006
Abstract ID:666
Candidate for Awards:Ecological Section Best Graduate Student Paper

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