Hawaii's botanical history is expanded

Apr 21, 2008

Smithsonian Institution scientists say one of Hawaii's most dominant plants, Metrosideros, has existed on the islands much longer than previously believed.

The researchers, who said their finding might rewrite Hawaii's botanical history, noted Metrosideros, commonly called "ohi'a" in the Hawaiian Islands, has puzzled researchers for years. Although previously thought to be a newcomer to the islands, the plants are well integrated into Hawaii's ecosystems.

However, scientists from the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian's National Zoo have now used molecular research to show Metrosideros might have colonized the islands soon after they formed.

If the finding is accurate, the plants would have played an important role in shaping Hawaii's ecology from the beginning, the scientists said. Knowing when Metrosideros dispersed and colonized the islands will give scientists a better understanding of how and when the fauna that rely on them evolved.

"What we are finding," said Scott Miller, a Smithsonian scientist working on the project, "is a distinct geographical pattern that supports a hypothesis that these plants colonized the Hawaiian Islands sequentially as they formed."

This could prove that Metrosideros played a far more important role in Hawaii's ecology than once thought, he said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Explore further: Population genomics unveil seahorse domain

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Standalone wireless info display device an easy fit

51 minutes ago

A Latvian team has come up with a good-looking WiFi display device, connecting to the Internet using WiFi, which runs on a high-capacity built-in battery and tracks what's important to you. This is a standalone ...

Technology improves avalanche gear for backcountry skiers

2 hours ago

As outdoor recreation companies increasingly cater to skiers and snowboarders who like to venture beyond the groomed slopes at ski resorts and tackle backcountry terrain, they've put a special emphasis on gear and equipment ...

The elephant poaching business in numbers

2 hours ago

From the pittance paid to local poachers to a multi-billion dollar industry, here are some of the key numbers related to Africa's endangered elephants:

UN moves toward major treaty for ocean biodiversity

2 hours ago

UN member states agreed Saturday to begin negotiations on a treaty to protect marine biodiversity in ocean areas extending beyond territorial waters, in a move heralded by environmental organizations.

Recommended for you

Population genomics unveil seahorse domain

5 hours ago

In a finding vital to effective species management, a team including City College of New York biologists has determined that the lined seahorse (Hippocampus erectus) is more a permanent resident of the we ...

Researchers develop new potato cultivar

8 hours ago

Dakota Ruby is the name of a new potato cultivar developed by the NDSU potato breeding project and released by the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station. Dakota Ruby has bright red skin, stores well and is intended ...

Researchers develop new soybean variety

8 hours ago

The North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station has developed and released ND Henson, a conventional soybean variety, according to Rich Horsley, chair of the NDSU Department of Plant Sciences.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.