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Trip report: pilot studies of factors linking watershed function and coastal ecosystem health in American Samoa

November 3, 2010

Coral reef resources in the territory of American Samoa face significant problems from overfishing, non-point source pollution, global warming, and continuing population growth and development. The islands are still relatively isolated relative to other parts of the Pacific and have managed to avoid some of the more devastating invasive species that have reached other archipelagoes. As a result, there are opportunities for collaborative and integrative research and monitoring programs to help restore and maintain biodiversity and functioning natural ecosystem in the archipelago.

We found that the 'Ridge to Reef' paradigm already exists in American Samoa, with a high degree of interagency cooperation and efficient use of limited resources already taking place in the Territory. USGS may be able to make contributions as a partner organization in the Coral Reef Advisory Group (CRAG) through deployment of sediment monitoring instrumentation to supplement stream monitoring by the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency, by providing high resolution vegetation and land-use maps of main islands, by providing additional support to the American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources and the National Park Service for monitoring of invasive species, by working with members of CRAG to initiate sediment transport studies on Samoan reefs, and by developing new projects on the effects of bacterial contamination and pollutants on coral reef physiology and demography.