How has breadfruit domestication impacted soil carbon sequestration in varying community structures across the Hawaiian Islands?
Research Interests:sustainable agriculture; agroforestry; carbon sequestration; climate change; food security; biocultural conservation; soil ecology; mycology; forest ecology
Current Research: Modern industrial agriculture is contributing significantly to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels in part due to unsustainable soil practices. However, agroforestry systems offer a sustainable alternative to modern agriculture that mitigates this contribution. Agroforestry systems have been shown to increase soil aggregation and enhance carbon (C) storage in the soil by sequestering carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and into long-lived trees and the surrounding soil. Agroforestry systems are utilized in the tropics where food insecurity is high, and where breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis, A. x micronesica), a crop that has been valued for its potential to mitigate food insecurity, is grown. Hundreds of breadfruit cultivars have been selected for by humans and were domesticated on a west to east longitudinal gradient in Oceania, whereby the least domesticated forms (seeded) are found in Near Oceania, and the most highly domesticated cultivars (seedless) are found in Remote Oceania. This study will address how C storage and arbuscular mycorrhizal abundance vary across a domestication gradient, and how they may be affected by different community structures of a mono-cropped common garden setting compared to a mixed agroforestry landscape. These results will inform a model to predict soil C sequestration based on measurements of soil aggregation and fungal abundance. The findings will offer insight into choosing a cultivar with maximal benefits to the environment and to physical soil quality. In addition, my findings may inform farmers growing domesticated cultivars of any crop in any community setting about soil carbon storage variation in response to crop domestication, based on soil aggregation and hyphal abundance in the soil.
- Student Scholarship Program - Hawai'i Conservation Alliance