Adaptive Radiation of the Hawaiian Silversword Alliance

Genetic Variation

Last Modification: June 15, 2000

Despite tremendous morphological and ecological variation among species of the Hawaiian silversword alliance, genetic identities of species pairs based on electrophoretic studies are often very high (I = 0.95-1.00), comparable to genetic distances between populations of a single species in continental plants.  Similar levels of uniformly high interspecific genetic identities have also been found in a number of other Hawaiian genera.  However, the silversword alliance exhibits a greater range of interspecific genetic identities than other Hawaiian groups; some of the species pairs have much lower genetic identities (I = 0.43 - 0.75), and are more comparable to congeneric interspecific comparisons in mainland plant groups.  Nevertheless,  the Hawaiian Madiinae have only half the level of genetic variation observed in average mainland populations.

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