such as "Introduction", "Conclusion"..etc
April 2008 — Scientists at the
Smithsonian Institution have discovered data that suggests one of
Hawaii's most dominant plants, Metrosideros, has been a resident of the
islands far longer than previously believed.
Metrosideros, commonly called "ohi'a" in the Hawaiian Islands, has
puzzled researchers for years. Although previously thought to be a
newcomer to the islands, these plants are well integrated into the
However, scientists from the Smithsonian's National Museum of
Natural History and the Smithsonian's National Zoo now are able to
show, through molecular research, that Metrosideros may have colonized
the islands soon after they formed. If so, these plants would have
played an important role in shaping the ecology of the islands from the
The isolated Hawaiian Islands are home to many unique and endemic
species of plants and animals. To know how these species came to
interact with one another and form functioning ecosystems, scientists
must first know how and when each species came to be on the islands.
This is particularly important in the case of Metrosideros--many
species of birds and insects are specialized to coexist and feed on
these plants. Knowing when Metrosideros dispersed and colonized the
islands also will give scientists a better understanding of how and
when the fauna that rely on them evolved.
Until now, no definitive phylogeographical study (combining
evolutionary history with current distribution patterns in order to
understand both) has been done on ecologically dominant species in this
"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.
Scientists at the Smithsonian will continue to research Metrosideros
in Hawaii to further determine the plant's historical colonization
pattern and its influence and role in the biodiversity of the islands.
Their findings are being published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B in London on April 16.
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