Manager Climate Corps
Pacific Islands Climate Science Center

Investigating climate driven shifts in Staphylococcus aureus and MRSA for water resource and land management solutions

Hilo One Water Chemistry
Photo Credit: Louise Economy, UH Hilo

Project Summary: Staphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) abundance are being quantified in association with rainfall and river discharge in Hilo Bay, in efforts to model how these pathogens vary in response to weather patterns. The abundance of these bacteria is also being determined in soils, sands, rivers, cesspools, and storm water within the Hilo watershed, to gain information on sources of these pathogens to recreational waters. Additionally, MRSA infection rates at the Hilo Medical Center is being compared with rainfall events, to assess if community members are more at risk of these infections during the wet season. These data will provide foundational information on how S. aureus and MRSA abundance will respond to a changing climate, and help guide solutions to manage the transport of such pathogens to coastal waters.

Primary Contact

Faculty Advisor

  • Tracy Wiegner, Associate Professor of Marine Science, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo

Committee Member

  • Jonathan Awaya, Associate Professor of Biology, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo

Masters Student

  • Louise Economy


  • Ayron Strauch, Hydrologist, Department of Land and Natural Resources
  • Chad Shibuya, R.N., Hilo Medical Center

Project Start Date: August 2016

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Partner Agencies

Pacific Islands Climate Science CenterUH ManoaUniversity of GuamDepartment of the Interior


Contact MCC Staff

  • Sharon Ziegler-Chong: Project Coordinator
  • Phone: (808) 933-0759
  • Email: ziegler@hawaii.edu

  • Scott Laursen: Technical Projects Specialist
  • Phone: (307) 699-0123
  • Email: slaursen@hawaii.edu

The MCC partners with the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science Graduate Program at UH Hilo and is a part of the larger tri-university consortium of the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center (PI-CSC).