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Abstract Detail


Becker, Anna [1], Fritsch, Peter [2], Cellinese, Nico [3].

The Evolution of Hawaiian Blueberries.

Hawaii's extremely isolated,  de novo  nature fosters a high proportion of endemic lineages that have recently evolved across relatively small geographic distances in short intervals of time, characterizing the archipelago as a "living laboratory" for evolutionary studies. Few other places on Earth offer opportunity to study in-situ evolution on such a finite scale.  Endemic Hawaiian  Vaccinium, locally known as Ohelo, boasts dazzling morphological variation. Leaf structure, as well as fruit and flower colors, shapes, and sizes differ dramatically by locality, reflecting diversified ecotones that characterize Hawaii's dramatic landscape. Growth habit is also highly variable, as one can find Ohelo in the most extreme parts of the islands, from 10-meter-tall spindly vines in high-elevation bogs to thumb-sized herbs dominating sea-side cliffs and brittle shrubs that are the first to arrive on arid soils after volcanic eruptions. Some evidence suggests that this group is monophyletic with a North American origin. However, because some of these plants have a habit more typical of tropical  Vaccinium, whereas others resemble temperate species of  Vaccinium, multiple origins possibly followed by hybridization also seems plausible. Although the current taxonomic treatment of Hawaiian  Vaccinium  recognizes only three species, previous treatments and recent field observations suggest many more than that, including some distinct single-island endemics that have yet to be formally described. However, because putative hybridization resulting in a mixture of morphological traits is rampant among Ohelo, the true diversity of this group has long been debated, and certainly impossible to discern from morphology alone. Ohelo is important to Native Hawaiian culture as a traditional food with healing properties, and as a primary food source for endangered native birds. As a keystone species in most pristine Hawaiian habitat, Ohelo is often planted for rehabilitation of disturbed land. Yet locals do not have the tools to distinguish species, some of which may be rare and in need of protection.This study utilizes advanced phylogenomic methodology to trace the evolutionary history of Ohelo by (1) pinpointing the origin(s) and timing of dispersal and (2) uncovering the true diversity of the Hawaiian group. Molecular approaches and analytical tools will be used to trace the evolution of this group across time and space, potentially illuminating  in-situ  diversification associated with Hawaii's relatively recent biogeographic events. Ancestral state reconstructions will be implemented to illustrate how Ohelo's morphological variety was selected over time, exposing changes in pollinator and disperser abundance through history.

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1 - 1659 Museum Rd, Gainesville, FL, 32611, United States
2 - Botanical Research Institute Of Texas, 1700 University Drive, Fort Worth, TX, 76107, United States
3 - University Of Florida, FLORIDA MUSEUM OF NAT. HISTORY, 1659 Museum Rd, 354 Dickinson Hall, Gainesville, FL, 32611, United States

species delimitation
target capture
Ancestral State reconstruction

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: SYSTIV, Systematics IV: Eurosids & Basal Asterids
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Wednesday, July 21st, 2021
Time: 4:30 PM(EDT)
Number: SYSTIV007
Abstract ID:117
Candidate for Awards:None

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