CAC Island Biogeography - Hawaii


During this year's Winter Break, CAC will travel to study wildlife in Hawaii.  The dates of travel will be 15-22 December 2018



Because of their isolation from large land masses, the Hawaiian Islands afford a unique opportunity to study the influences of geography on wildlife. Because the archipelago has unique plants and animals that are found no-where else on earth, the Hawaiian Islands are ideal for studying the kinds of local adaptations that are critical to our understanding of evolution.


The focus of this field trip will be on biological diversity in the context of local geographic features.  While in Hawaii, we will visit four distinct habitats:

  • High-altitude desert ecology in the extinct Haleakela vocano

  • Windward side rainforest ecology

  • Shallow-water coral reef ecology

  • Inter-island pelagic zone

Although, access to wildlife can never be guaranteed, our goal will be to make direct observations of as many species as possible in each area.  Goals will include

  • Birds:  terrestrial, wetlands, and seabirds, including endemic species like the I'Iwi and the Nene Goose.

  • Fish:  more than fifty species of fish can be expected in the near-shore coral reefs 

  • Reptiles:  terrestrial and marine, including the green sea turtle 

  • Cetaceans:  principal focus on the breeding ecology of the Humpback Whale 

  • Invasives:  including the historical spread of human-introduced Mynahs and domestic cats 

The One-Credit Course:  This seven-day-long field trip will associated with a one-credit course for the student participants.  The activities and tone of the trip will be fun and exciting, including coral-reef snorkeling, and whale watching.  But the trip will also include periods of careful observation and study.  Critical evaluations will occur through discussions within our group and with local experts.  Student evaluations will occur via brief oral presentations and short writing assignments.  This work will commence while we are in Hawaii, and it will continue during four class meetings when we are back at Canisius.  The one-credit grade will be awarded in the Spring-19 semester. 




Each student's portion of the total cost will be $1950.

(Students should anticipate additional costs associated with required snorkeling gear, plus the cost of meals while traveling.)   


Limited Spaces:

Space in this project will be allocated competitively and limited to 11 students.


Application Process:

Applications can be downloaded by clicking HERE.

Written applications are due on 28 September 2018. 


There will also be a required swim-safety test (in KAC), and a physical fitness test (Churchill Tower stair climb). 


Award Announcements:

The CAC-Hawaii team will be announced 6 October 2018.

Payment Schedule:

The $1950 payment will be due on 9 October 2018. 

Payment should be provided as a check, made out to "Canisius College."

This payment is not refundable.  So each student should consider obtaining their own travel insurance.




Contact Info: Michael Noonan, PhD, Canisius College , 2001 Main St., Buffalo, NY 14208