Instructionally Related Activities Funds Request Summary

Project SponsorRachel Cartwright
Activity TitleHabitat preference in Hawaii's humpback whales
Activity/Event Date3/14/15 - 3/21/15
Date Funding Needed ByOctober 2015
Previously Funded?Yes
Semester/YearSpring 2013
Proposal #475
Report submitted for previously Funded Activity?Yes
Report submitted for previously Funded Activity475-ira-narrative.pdf (PDF, 19.4KB)
Academic Program or Center NameBiology
Estimated total Course Fee revenue5686.00
Amount Requested from IRA24584.00
Estimated Number of Students Participating10
Conditions and ConsiderationsField Trip
Brief Activity DescriptionEnrolled students will gain hands-on experience in all aspects of this conservation-based research study, from experimental design to post-trip data analysis. Every winter, humpback whales from across the North Pacific travel thousands of miles to the waters around Maui, Hawaii. Adults breed, females give birth and young humpback whale calves spend their first crucial few months in this region. Working with this endangered species as it recovers from the threat of extinction, students will gain a real-world perspective on the realities of marine conservation and the challenges of management within critical habitats.

In addition to participating in this valuable research study, the trip also provides students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the sub-tropical ecology and the culture of the Hawaiian Islands. Rain-forest hikes in remote island regions are combined with snorkeling and other activities so that students can appreciate this unique location. They will see first-hand the conflicts that develop when high levels of human recreational activity and fragile natural habitat overlap. Associated outreach activities and featured local speakers that meet with our students round out the trip to allow students to fully consider and appreciate the human footprint in regions such as this.

To date, results from this study present a compelling picture of how human activity may impact marine mammal use of critical habitat. Findings from the first three years of the research study were published in the Journal PLOS ONE (Impact factor 4.3), and a second publication is in preparation for submission in summer 2014. However, to be effective, conservation-based work such as this needs to communicated to the public at large. Consequently, the larger goals of this study provide a perfect vehicle for the involvement of students and faculty from the range of disciplines across our campus. Previously, students from the Communications, Art and Business programs have participated in the course and made substantial contributions to the overall impact of this activity. We plan to maintain this interdisciplinary approach to our work, promoting the course across campus and actively encouraging applications from students outside the traditional sciences.

Participating students will work in small, interdisciplinary groups and conduct their own related studies during their time in Hawaii. Previous studies have ranged from the impact of eco-tourism to underwater noise and many students have continued to develop these studies, incorporating their work into capstone and other independent research projects. We see this as one of the most valuable outcomes of the course, as students voluntarily pursue their own original interests.

This course essentially provides a unique opportunity for science-based students to fully participate in the research process. From the stand point of service learning, the results of this study provide vital information that is contributing to effective management and the continued protection of this endangered species. For non-science majors, the program also provides a range of related opportunities, ranging from public outreach and environmental education for communication majors, to experience within the non-profit arena for business majors.
Learning Outcomes and Relation to IRA to Course OfferingsLearning Outcomes.
Students who participate in the course will:
• Design experiments to test scientific hypotheses, collate data, conduct statistical analyses and evaluate research outcomes.
• Gain first-hand experience in problem solving
• Identify topic appropriate research materials, synthesize information from a variety of sources and gain experience in effective communication of results in a variety of media.
• Develop communication skills and the ability to work as an effective team member in a diverse cultural setting
• Use analytic and data collection equipment in situ.
• Work as part of federally permitted research team, and contribute to ongoing efforts for the conservation of a federally listed, endangered species.

Related courses:
Quantitative Methods in Biology (Biology 203): Study results will be compiled into a sample database and used three to four times over the course of the each semester in exercises in basic data analysis.

Marine Biology (Biology 312): Material used in ecology of marine mammals, management of marine resources and marine mammal field techniques. Two lectures, one lab.

Research Design and Data Analysis (Math 430): Real world data for use in demonstration of the principles of experimental design and advanced data analysis

Independent and directed Research (Biology 494/497): Numerous students been involved in related research studies, looking at photographic data and working with tissue samples from stranded animals to investigate the development of breath-holding capacity in marine mammals. For these students, the opportunity to work with whales in the field is invaluable.
Description of Assessment ProcessThe course assessment will comprise two components, related to its two key deliverables:

1. Student research projects will be assessed according to a rubric that measures their engagement with research planning and preparation, design and subsequent data analysis; grades will be assigned based on this rubric.

2. A topics-based component of the course will be assessed not only by the instructors, but by members of the target audience for the different media as well, using a voluntary survey form.

The students will also complete a self evaluation of both their research and their outreach activities using a rubric that they develop at the beginning of the term.
Activity Budgetiratravelbudget-c-spring15-maui-rccw.xlsx (MS Excel, 206.5KB)
CIA Budget
CIA Proposal
Course Syllabus
CIA Certification
Other Sources of FundingThe Keiki Kohola Project, a Maui-based non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization, will provide access to its research vessel, logistic support, in-field training and most of the field equipment required by the students. This represents an in-kind donation of around $3000 per student, based on current eco-tourism trips such as Earth Watch / similar programs offered for profit by other universities, which charge for participation in this type of project.

Monitoring equipment provided by Keiki Kohola Project includes cameras, computer equipment, acoustic recording and water quality monitoring equipment.

Additionally, each year a local whale-watching company, Ultimate Whalewatch Maui, has provided a second small research vessel, free of charge. This represents an in-kind donation of $4,000. While this donation is contingent on vessel availability, the boat has been provided in three out of the last four trips. As a result, our trip has come in consistently below the requested budget. However this donation cannot be finalized until the trip is scheduled, therefore the cost of an additional vessel remains in the budget at this time.

Course fees will be in the region of $900 per student. Students will also be involved in fund raising activities after the trip. Planned activities include the sale of photography and t. shirts. Production costs of these items will be covered by the Keiki Kohola Project and profits generated may be used to offset student costs and to cover the purchase of carbon offsets to cover the air travel involved in this itinerary.
Target Audience/Student MarketingThis activity will be offered to all students across the campus. Flyers will be posted to inform students of application dates and details, and all applicants will be encouraged to attend a set of informational meetings prior to submitting their applications.

It may be worth noting; the trip is currently well known within the student body. For the 10 places on the Spring ’13 trip, we received 80 applications from students representing the full range of disciplines on campus.
Bring Benefit to CampusFor the benefit of the campus community, on completion of the trip in Spring 15, students will prepare posters on their research topics and these will be displayed to the general student body during a Hawaiian- themed marine mammal event to be held in the students union, or similar central location. All trip participants will be required to attend, and share their experiences with other students. Underwater and surface videos will be displayed and acoustic recordings of whale song will be available for other students to listen to.

Additionally, students participating in the trip will identify current conservation issues that are impacting marine mammal populations. They will compile accurate information and options for active support, and will provide this to other students during this event. This event will therefore provide campus-wide education on the current status of marine mammals and associated issues relating to the health of the marine environment.
The materials that the students prepare will also be collated and prepared for possible display at the Channel Islands Boat Center, as part of an on-going effort to reach out to the general public through this facility.

Finally, results from the study that the students participate in will be compiled for publication. The first such publication has been widely recognized as a substantial contribution in this field, bringing public recognition to the university as an institution that facilitates undergraduate research experiences. Recent media coverage includes the New York Times, the BBC and Schoolyard films (ITunesU).

SustainabilityParticipation in this activity primarily impacts student attitudes towards sustainability. Spending time in a potentially pristine region, such as Hawaii, provides students with an opportunity to develop their own attitudes to this issue, through direct experience and reflection on the impact that anthropogenic activities can have, both on the larger marine environment and on marine megafauna.

Students who have completed the course will be more informed on these issues and hopefully persuaded by their own experiences to better embrace the ideologies and principles of sustainability. Furthermore, with the incorporation of the educational outreach event on campus, this impact will disseminate across the campus, to contribute to the general level of environmental awareness of our student body.
Program Chair/Directoramy.denton
Academic Affairs AVPkaren.carey
AcknowledgementI acknowledge that I have reviewed and accepted the Conditions and Considerations herein. Please check off boxes as appropriate.

Program Chair/Director Approval

ApprovalI approve the IRA Funds Request described on this page
NameAmy Denton
Date/Time3/5/2014 11:17:44 AM

Academic Affairs AVP Approval

ApprovalI approve the IRA Funds Request described on this page
NameKaren Carey
Date/Time3/5/2014 11:20:15 AM