Michael Trunkhill

Michael Trunkhill
MS Candidate, SDSU


San Diego State University
Department of Biology
Physical Sciences, Rm. 240
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182-4614

Cohort 1 Theme 3: Water Prediction & Ecosystem Services Project 2: Synoptic and seasonal monitoring of the Earth System Task: CREST Ocean Observations in Critical Regions/Environmental data for assessing resilience to disturbance in tropical coral reefs. Ocean-atmospheric fluxes using boat-based flux measurements

Advisor: Donatella Zona NOAA Mentor: Mareike Sudek (NOS) Expected Graduation: June 2019 Degree: Biology / Ecology

Research Title: Distinguish between levels of production and to examine coral reefs contribution to the global carbon budget in Faga’Alu Bay, American Samoa

Research Synopsis: This project is designed to explore the CO2 output of one of the most productive ecosystems on the coastal shelf, coral reefs. Coral reef ecosystems are sources of CO2. The strength of this output varies dependent on many environmental and biological factors. One such factor that has not been explored is how CO2 output is affected by reef ecosystems under anthropogenic stress. Our project takes place in several bays on the Island of Tutuila in American Samoa. Using a headspace equilibrator, we will measure the CO2 levels in the surrounding air and water column to estimate the efflux of CO2 over the reef ecosystems in the surrounding bays on Tutuila Island. Faga’Alu Bay will be our primary study site. It is unique to the local community because it contains several coral reef systems in various stages of health in similar environmental conditions. Because of a trench that splits Faga’Alu Bay in half the coral reef ecosystem in the southern part is healthier and more vibrant than in the north. The northern ecosystem is degraded and dying from excess sedimentation. The other bays are representative of more stable ecosystems in various degrees of health.

NERTO Title: The Effect of Coral Reef Health on Near Shore Air-Sea Exchange of CO2 in American Samoa

NERTO Synopsis: National Marine Sanctuaries of American Samoa (NMSAS) is composed of six protected areas covering 13,581 miles of nearshore coral reef and offshore ocean waters across the Samoan Archipelago. The Sanctuary supports a variety of corals, invertebrates, fish, turtles, marine mammals, and marine plants as well as hydrothermal vent and deep-water habitats. The Sanctuary Program provides protection of these natural resources through research and education, which foster public understanding and stewardship of this nationally-significant marine area.

The objective of this internship is to engage graduate studies in coral reef ecology and ecosystem studies in support of NOAA and NMSAS missions. The project provides the student opportunities to develop fieldwork sills, conduct data collection analysis, enrich themselves in a unique Pacific Island culture, correlate data with current and former studies conducted in American Samoa, and foster a connection with NOAA's Marine Sanctuary System.