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

EPA Grant Number: MA916360
Title: Island Evolution: Speciation, Biogeography, and Phylogeny of Plantago (Plantaginaceae) in the Hawaiian Islands
Investigators: Dunbar, Stephanie F.
Institution: University of Hawaii at Manoa
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: January 1, 2004 through December 31, 2006
Project Amount: $89,331
RFA: GRO Fellowships for Graduate Environmental Study (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Fellowship - Ecology


The main objective of this research project is to evaluate whether morphological and ecological diversity is indicative of speciation in the endemic Hawaiian species of the genus Plantago. In particular, I am interested in determining: (1) the evolutionary relationships in the group using morphological and molecular data; (2) the evolution of breeding systems and the potential for hybridization in the group; and (3) the biogeographic patterns exhibited by Hawaiian Plantago with respect to island age and direction of colonization.


This objective will be addressed by using molecular sequence data from the nuclear gene regions NIA and LEAFY, morphological data, and experimental studies. Molecular and morphological data sets will be compared and combined in an attempt to create the most accurate phylogeny of Hawaiian Plantago. Mapping of geographic distributions will be done by substituting the names of the islands of occurrence for taxon names in cladograms. Experimental studies will consist of compatibility tests, breeding system characterization, and artificial hybridization trials.

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, speciation, molecular characterization, morphology, geographic distributions, Hawaii, HI, biogeographic patterns, ecological diversity,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, ECOSYSTEMS, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, exploratory research environmental biology, Environmental Microbiology, Monitoring/Modeling, Ecological Monitoring, Environmental Monitoring, Biochemistry, Ecological Indicators, ecological condition, assessment models, biodiversity, biogeochemical indicators, ecosystem assessment, ecological speciation, molecular characterization, ecological assessment, ecosystem indicators, molecular phylogenic research, speciation, species diversity, species formation, ecosystem impacts, evolutionary biology, hybridization

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2004
  • 2005
  • Final