Evolution on Islands

Evolution...does not cease to operate simply because species have found their way to an island with the helping hand of humans.

Oceanic islands have served as warehouses of knowledge concerning evolution. They sport some spectacular examples of adaptive radiation, and house species that evolved under conditions that are not typical of most terrestrial environments. Evolution, of course, does not cease to operate simply because species have found their way to an island with the helping hand of humans. We use exotic birds introduced to oceanic islands as probes into mechanisms of evolution. Exotic birds provide unprecedented information on the early stages of colonization of islands, and are thus very useful for exploring how these early events shape the evolutionary fate of island species. Our lab has explored the morphological and genetic evolution of exotic passerine birds on Hawaii, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico.


The view of the Big Island of Hawaii from Haleakala Crater on Maui; Mauna Kea on the left and Mauna Loa on the right