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Geneticists Explore Hawaii Volcanoes

July 29, 2010

'Akialoa. Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park has a complex diversity of biological and geological resources.

Today members of the American Genetic Association (AGA) are spending the day exploring some of the rare insects and birds of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This field trip is a part of the American Genetic Association Annual Symposium being held at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. This year’s symposium focuses on Conservation Genomics, which seeks to utilize genetic technology and research to help find solutions for conservation problems.

Our goal is to brainstorm about how the genomic data that we anticipate becoming available in the next few years can be best used to conserve biodiversity on the planet.

In addition to exploring the summit area of the park, this morning participants will meet with David Foote of the U.S. Geological Survey, Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center, and receive an introduction to Hawaiian Montane Tropical Rainforests. It is no coincidence that this year’s symposium is being held near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

In 1980, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural organization (UNESCO) named Hawaii Volcanoes National Park an International Biosphere Reserve because of its outstanding scenic and scientific values. The park was recognized for its important volcanic sites (including two of the world’s most active volcanoes); its volcanic island ecosystem, which preserves one of the largest significant ecosystems on the Hawaiian Islands; and its cultural and historic sites. The Biosphere Reserve program goals are to conserve the diversity of a designated site’s ecosystems and provide areas and facilities for international ecological and environmental research, education and training.

Map of World Heritage Sites. (Image Courtesy United Nations Environment Programme))

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. World Heritage Sites recognize and protect areas around the globe that have outstanding natural, historical, and cultural values. It evolved from the idea that certain natural and cultural sites have “universal value” for all people.

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