Evolutionary Biology

Volume 31 of the series Evolutionary Biology pp 1-53

Speciation Processes in the Adaptive Radiation of Hawaiian Plants and Animals

  • Elysse M. CraddockAffiliated withDivision of Natural Sciences, Purchase College, State University of New York

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Hawaii, the most isolated archipelago on earth, is an evolutionist’s paradise. Despite its comparative geological recency and extreme isolation, this chain of volcanic islands in the northern Pacific hosts an amazingly rich and diverse biota—the outcome of rapid, explosive speciation and adaptive radiation in many groups of plants and animals. Most of the flora and fauna are endemic to Hawaii, with endemism rates as high as 90 to 99%o for terrestrial forms (Carlquist, 1970); in fact, many species are restricted to individual islands or volcanoes. Thus it can be inferred that these endemic forms speciated in situ, following successful colonization by a series of founder individuals.