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UH Ecosystems Work is a Cooperative Extension Program that provides evidence-based problem solving and best practices so conservation and watershed workers can effectively maintain and restore thriving ecosystems and landscapes

We strive to provide practical support to land stewardship efforts and the conservation/ watershed workers in Hawaiʻi. Common topics include:

  • Native Ecosystems Restoration

  • Addressing Threats (Weeds, Fire, Predators, Climate Change)

  • Connecting and Supporting Ecosystems Workers


Extension serves a key role in improving the relevance, dissemination, and adoption of knowledge generated through research. We serve as partners and collaborators on projects that prioritize relationship-building and dialogue with research users.

We use a Needs-Finding Process and a Logic Model to prioritize and guide our work.



Clay Trauernicht

Extension Specialist

I am an Associate Professor in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.  My scientific interests revolve around the application of quantitative ecology and remote sensing to understand how people and climate influence the dynamics of tropical forest and savanna ecosystems.  In addition to many years of botanical and ecological fieldwork, I have published and presented on plant community ecology and population modeling, geospatial analyses of fire and species occurrence, and the use of local knowledge to adapt management strategies and inform research needs.


Phone: 808-956-6875

Office: Sherman Labs 233 

Twitter: @claytrau


Liat Portner

Project Specialist

I am passionate about sustaining native Hawaiian ecosystems through research, management, and community engagement. I completed undergraduate programs in Geography and Ethnobotany (2011) and a master’s degree in Geography (2022) at UH Mānoa, exploring how land cover changes impact water processes. Field experiences across the archipelago, from Holanikū to Kohala, immersed me in the aspects of managing across Hawaiʻi's biodiversity. Throughout this journey, I have had the privilege of engaging with the mālama ʻāina community, who continually deepen my understanding of, and expand my passion for, Hawaiʻi's native ecosystems. 



Office: Sherman Lab 210

Current Team 

Past Team Members

Melissa Kunz

Melissa was the first  Project Specialist for the Ecosystems Extension program, working with Clay before and during its inception. She currently holds a position with the U.S. Forest Service at the Institute for Pacific Island Forestry (IPIF) as a social scientist. We are forever grateful for the thought she put into this program and  we will continue to collaborate with Melissa into the future.

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