Last week I went to O'ahu to collect Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae) for my National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship. As part of my postdoctoral fellowship I am studying the population genetic structure of D. suzukii in its invasive range in the Hawaiian Islands. One of the things I am interested in learning is whether D. suzukii populations have begun to diverge across the island chain.
I grew up in Wai'anae on O'ahu from the age of 9 on to high school, and then left for college at the University of Hawai'i in Hilo on the "Big Island". Mauna Ka'ala in Wai'anae was the first place D. suzukii was detected in the Hawaiian Islands (Kaneshiro, 1982). Thus, the most exciting coincidence about surveying for insects in Mauna Ka'ala is that this mountain was the backdrop of my childhood! My first home was behind Tamura Store in Wai'anae, then on Wai'anae Valley Road by "Ark of Safety" church, then in front of Tamura Store, then in Mā'ili across the street from "Tumble Land", then finally out in Mākaha on Holt Street. Now, if you grew up in Wai'anae, you would know location, and maybe significance, of all of these places.
It is crazy to think that while I lived in Wai'anae during an important portion of my life, I never actually went up to Mauna Ka'ala as a kid. For my family and even my friends, it wasn't very common to go hiking in the mountains. However, like many 4th graders at Wai'anae Elementary School I did visit the lo'i at Ka'ala farms, but never went up the mountain itself. So, it was exciting to go back home and do research that I think is constructive, and has real value for the place I call home. I hope that my current project on invasive D. suzukii in Hawai'i is just the beginning of the research I will be doing back in Wai'anae.
For more information on this project please visit the SWD Research Group page.
Kaneshiro K. (1983) Drosophila (Sophophora) suzukii (Matsumura). Notes and Exhibitions. Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society, 24, 179.
**This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number #1523661. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.