Seed Grant Programs

Upena of Pilina: Revitalizing Connections Between Kānaka ‘Ōiwi Food Systems and Arthropods

Principal Investigator:

Rosemary Gillespie, Professor, UC Berkeley
Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
Director, Essig Museum of Entomology
Schlinger Chair in Systematic Entomology

Research Team:

Leke Hutchins, PhD Candidate, UC Berkeley
Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

Natalie Kurashima, Integrated Resources Manager, Kamehameha Schools
Affiliate Faculty, Botany Program, School of Life Sciences, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa
Affiliate Faculty, Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Sciences Program, University of Hawai’i at Hilo
Commissioner, Hawai’i County Cultural Resources Commission.

Funding level: $100,000


Research Summary

Biodiversity and Indigenous agroecosystems and communities on the leeward side of Hawaiʻi Island have long been impacted by the industrial agri-food system. In collaboration with Kamehameha Schools, we will address this issue by utilizing a socio-ecological framework, along with novel interdisciplinary methods, to determine pathways to increase land access to Kānaka ʻŌiwi (Indigenous Hawaiian) farmers, motivate industrial growers to diversify their farms, and study the effects of agricultural diversification on arthropod (i.e., spiders and insects) biodiversity. 

Kamehameha Schools has the power to restructure management of over ~200,000 acres of cultivated and forested lands. Therefore, by working closely together to address common objectives, we can drastically increase the number of Kānaka ʻŌiwi farmers, acreage dedicated to Indigenous agroecosystem management, and arthropod biodiversity. Throughout the project, we will advance emerging Indigenous data sovereignty methods to empower Kānaka ʻŌiwi to have authority over data relevant to them.