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Living Resources

PBRC has developed and/or currently supports several facilities that maintain valuable living resources that are used either as research material or for propagating biota for the preservation of endangered species.  By helping maintain the availability of each of these resources, PBRC helps to provide a unique service to UH Mānoa, the State of Hawai‘i, and the Nation.


Hawaiian Drosophila Research Stock Center (HDRSC)

HDRSC was established in 1963 in collaboration with the University of Texas at Austin’s Genetics Foundation.  The HDRSC maintains laboratory colonies of Hawaiian Drosophila species, several of which are listed on the Federal Endangered Species List and therefore protected by federal statutes under the Endangered Species Act. HDRSC maintains colonies of other species that researchers at UH Mānoa and elsewhere are using for specific research projects. Researchers within the U.S. as well as abroad may request live specimens from the colonies currently being maintained. The center also serves as a source of laboratory colonies of Hawaiian Drosophila species for the National Drosophila Species Stock Center funded by the National Science Foundation, which is now housed at the University of California, San Diego. One of the Hawaiian species, Drosophila grimshawi, which has been maintained in HDRSC for about 45 years, is the source of one of only 12 Drosophila species worldwide whose entire genome has been sequenced.  2013 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Hawaiian Drosophila Project.

Hawaiian Tree Snail Conservation Laboratory

The core function of this laboratory is captive breeding, care, and maintenance of rare Hawaiian tree snails. The Laboratory is currently working with 14 species, 9 of which (Achatinella spp.) are federally listed as endangered, and is critically involved in the conservation of these endangered species.  Located in Henke Hall on the UH Mānoa campus and under the direction of Dr. Brenden Holland and Dr. Michael G. Hadfield, the laboratory feeds and cares for these unique and extremely rare endemic taxa.

Hawaiian tree snails have experienced devastating levels of extinction due to introduced predators, and today all remaining populations are restricted to native forests above 600 m in elevation.  The tree snails are not only esthetically important and evolutionarily informative, they are considered flagship species: their presence in the wild indicates pristine, intact forest habitats, largely free of invasive predators and plants. Native forests are crucial to human population health downslope, as they act as critical natural rainwater filtration and catchment systems for island watersheds. Rain, mist, and condensation drip from tree leaves and plants to spongy mosses and soils, where they are held, acting as reserves that recharge water resources. Without upland native forests, the rivers and aquifers that supply our plentiful clean water would wither and dry up. The Hawaiian Tree Snail Conservation Laboratory is a key component of this conservation effort.

Békésy Laboratory Apiary

This Resource was established on the UH Mānoa campus in space behind the Békésy Laboratory of Neurobiology building to provide honeybees for studies of learning and behavior. Seven hives are maintained primarily for behavioral research purposes. With the recent declines in bee stocks across the Hawaiian Islands due to newly introduced pests, this facility has become an important resource to develop new management protocols to maintain healthy hives. This work has been in collaboration with researchers in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

Marine Invertebrates

PBRC faculty are maintaining multiple species of difficult to rear marine invertebrates in culture. Many of these species are native to the islands and thus important resources. The maintenance of these cultures has opened research opportunities, and brought collaborators to Hawai‘i. Two localspecies of calanoid copepod are maintained in the Békésy Laboratory of Neurobiology for physiological, anatomical, and behavioral research. The availability of these cultures has led to requests for starter cultures from aquarists and aquaculturists. Kewalo Marine Laboratory maintains corals and other invertebrates in its seawater tanks and these have attracted researchers from the mainland for collaborative research, as well as supporting graduate student research projects.

Volcano Rare Plant Facility (VRPF)

Established nearly 20 years ago on the island of Hawai‘i, this facility was the first mid-elevation nursery dedicated to the propagation of endangered Hawaiian plant species. It is located at the University of Hawai‘i’s Volcano Agricultural Experiment Field Station. PBRC’s Center for Conservation Research & Training (CCRT) administers the VRPF.  The facility participates in a State-wide program to prevent the extinction of native Hawaiian plants. There are 146 threatened and endangered plant species on the Island of Hawai‘i, and research at the VRPF includes developing propagation and cultural treatments and studying the phenology of these endangered species, most of which have never been studied before. The Facility maintains an average inventory of 13,000 individual plants of threatened and endangered species in four greenhouses at the VRPF. Over the past 5 years, more than 30,000 individuals have been out-planted into protected natural habitats with huge success and survival rate. Partner organizations include the Hawai‘i Division of Forestry & Wildlife/Natural Area Reserve System, the Plant Extinction Prevention Program, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge, Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate, and members of the Three Mountain Alliance, which coordinates projects on about a million acres of conservation land on the Island of Hawai‘i.

Olinda Rare Plant Facility (ORPF)

This facility was established in 2003 and is focused on propagation of threatened and endangered plants from the islands of Maui, Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i (collectively known at Maui Nui).  The ORPF staff is currently propagating 34 Maui Nui species and has also begun to out-plant individuals of many of these species back into the natural habitat. As with the VRPF, an objective of the ORPF is to serve as a gene bank for the mid-elevation threatened and endangered species from the islands of Hawai‘i and Maui Nui respectively so that these species can eventually be out-planted into the natural habitats to restore the native plant community that comprise the native ecosystem. Collaborators of ORPF include the Hawai‘i Division of Forestry and Wildlife, the Plant Extinction Prevention Program, Leeward Haleakalā Watershed Restoration Partnership, Haleakalā National Park, The Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i, the Maui Bird Conservation Center, and the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens.