Marine biology student receives country’s first conservation scholarship


Shayle Matsuda doing fieldwork. (Photo credit: Gates Coral Lab)

A doctoral student at the University of Hawaii in Manoa Graduate Program in Marine Biology, studying a potential coral conservation strategy, was appointed Recipient of the 2021 David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship from the Society for Conservation Biology and the Cedar Tree Foundation.

Shayle Matsuda will be part of a team of researchers engaged in an international coral reef restoration project. During the fellowship, he will assess how coral transplantation affects their health, in particular the symbiotic relationship between coral and their microbiomes.

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Shayle Matsuda. (Photo credit: Gates Coral Lab)

“By studying patterns of microbial dysbiosis, the disruption of the microbiome-host relationship, in several key coral species in both Hawaii and in Florida, we will better understand the risks of implementing large-scale coral translocation as a conservation strategy, ”said Matsuda.

Prepared for the future

Work with Craig nelson, researcher associated with Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education, and the Gates Coral Lab to Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, Matsuda focused his graduate research on the effects of warming oceans on coral-microbial symbioses and coral physiology. With scholarships of Hawaii Maritime subsidy, Point Foundation and Denise B. Evans Fellow as well as direct support from Pam Omidyar and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, he has studied coral bleaching and recovery in Hawaii and on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, examining the impact of heat stress on microbial and algal symbioses.

“Shayle’s doctoral work here at EUH Mānoa broke new ground in understanding how rising ocean temperatures will affect the symbiosis between corals, algae and bacteria as coral reef bleaching increases around the world, ”said Nelson. “He pioneered new molecular techniques to study these symbioses throughout the life cycle of corals. Shayle will bring cutting-edge skills in coral microbiome science and the molecular basis of symbiosis to his Smith Fellowship project. “

The Smith Fellowship, one of the country’s leading postdoctoral programs in conservation science, identifies and supports early-career scientists who will shape the growth of applied conservation science and seek solutions to current conservation challenges. more urgent.

This effort is an example of EUH Mānoa’s goal of Building a Sustainable and Resilient Campus Environment: Within the Global Movement for Sustainability and Climate Resilience (PDF), one of the four objectives identified in the Strategic plan 2015–25 (PDF), updated in December 2020.

For more information, see the School of Ocean and Earth Sciences and Technologies website.

–By Marcie Grabowski

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