Island Evolution: Speciation, Biogeography, and Phylogeny of Plantago L. (Plantaginaceae) in the Hawaiian Islands

EPA Grant Number: U916213
Title: Island Evolution: Speciation, Biogeography, and Phylogeny of Plantago L. (Plantaginaceae) in the Hawaiian Islands
Investigators: Dunbar, Stephanie F.
Institution: University of Hawaii at Manoa
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: January 1, 2003 through January 1, 2006
Project Amount: $115,970
RFA: Minority Academic Institutions (MAI) Fellowships for Graduate Environmental Study (2003) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Natural and Life Sciences , Biology/Life Sciences


The overall objective of this research project is to evaluate certain concepts regarding whether morphological variation along environmental gradients is indicative of speciation using the endemic Hawaiian species in the genus Plantago. The specific objectives of this research project are to determine: (1) the phylogenetic and systematic relationships in the group; (2) whether morphological variation is genetically regulated and related to genetic divergence; and (3) the biogeographic patterns exhibited by Hawaiian Plantago with respect to island age and direction of colonization.


The objective will be addressed by using molecular sequence data from the nuclear gene region LEAFY, morphological data, ecological data, and greenhouse studies. Molecular and morphological data sets will be compared and combined in an attempt to create the true phylogeny of Hawaiian Plantago. Mapping of geographic distributions will be completed by substituting the names of the islands of occurrence for taxon names in the cladograms. Greenhouse studies will be employed to examine phenotypic plasticity and the potential for hybridization between select species and variants in the group.

The Hawaiian Islands are a model system in which to study evolutionary processes. Despite this, much of the native flora remains unstudied. A comprehensive understanding of the evolutionary patterns of Hawaiian Plantago has broad conservation and management applications for both the Hawaiian flora and for other groups occurring in isolated systems.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, Plantaginaceae, Hawaiian Islands, phylogenetic analysis, island evolution, speciation, Plantago.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2003
  • 2004
  • Final