Rebecca Thomas

Kona, HI
United States
Fellow Year: 
2014 - 2015
About Rebecca Thomas

Becky is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources (HDNR). She is co-advised by HDNR Associate Professors Dr. Tara Teel and Dr. Brett Bruyere. The purpose of her fellowship project will be to investigate actual and perceived traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) regarding the endangered Hawai ́ian crow (ʻAlalā) on the Island of Hawai ́i through a comparison of the beliefs of community elders and conservation leaders. Little is known about TEK surrounding the ʻAlalā, and this information could serve to better connect the goals and motivations of conservation leaders with those of community members. The project will involve a local field assistant in data collection and analysis. The information gathered will be used to facilitate improved communication between conservation practitioners and local communities in Hawai ́i to mitigate social conflict surrounding reintroduction of this species. A possible outcome of the project is to ultimately inform approaches to improving livelihoods for Hawai’ians as well as other indigenous communities in the United States and Pacific Island region through an understanding of the institutional barriers that might prevent interaction with nature in a culturally meaningful way.